September 18, 2015

Blu-ray Review: The Ring (2002)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0298130/
(aka 7 Days)
Release Date: October 18th, 2002.
Country: USA
Rating: PG-13
Written by: Ehren Kruger, Koji Suzuki, and Hiroshi Takahashi.
Directed by: Gore Verbinski.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman, and Daveigh Chase. 

Not only was The Ring the first J-Horror remake to hit it big at the Box Office, but it ended up being nearly as good as the original was, which is no easy thing to accomplish. Many have tried to competently remake Asian Horror, and many have failed, or at least done a mediocre job of it.  

Now, 90% of the time we'll take the original over a remake, especially when it comes to Foreign Horror being remade for the English-speaking market, but The Ring was special in that it managed to work as its own movie without completely crapping all over the source material from which it was taken. It was also pretty damn scary.

Plus, how ridiculously hot was Naomi Watts back in 2002?

There's a cursed videotape floating around out there, and when you watch it, your phone rings, and then you die in 7 days. Sounds kind of cheesy, right? Well you tell that two the schoolgirl (outfit and all) who watched the tape last weekend with her friends. They're all dead now, and even though she's still alive... nope, she's dead now too.

WHEN THEY SAY 7 DAYS, THEY MEAN 7 DAYS.
The schoolgirl's hot Aunt Rachel, who also happens to be a journalist, gets wind of the Urban Legend of the cursed tape, and vows to track it down. She ends up finding it a cabin, where she watches it, and them promptly gets a phone call where a the voice of a little girl whispers "7 days" before hanging up on her. Prank call, or is it time for Rachel  to start being afraid?

AFRAID. DEFINITELY AFRAID.
Fearing her death, and the potential death of her creepy little son, Rachel uses all of her journalistic skills to find out where the tape came from, and to try to figure out a way to stop the curse before she ends up all twisted in some closet like her dead Niece. Filicide, creepy kids, scared horses, and lots of other unsettling shit ensues.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN 7 DAYS.
One of the best Horror movies of the 2000's, The Ring proved that Foreign Horror (in this case, Japanese) can be re-made effectively. It also proved that there's nothing creepier than kids, whether they be evil or not. Both of the kids in this one were sufficiently creepy.

The thing about The Ring is that from the very start of the movie, it fills you with an overwhelming feeling  of dread, which doesn't really let up until the credits roll. Not sure how Gore Verbinski pulled it off so well, but good luck finding a more atmospheric movie from the early 00's. Especially one of the PG-13 variety. They're out there, but they are a rare beast indeed.

The mythology of Samara is what really got us the most, as our minds couldn't stop wondering who she was, and exactly how she came to be like that. The whole shady adoption and the fact that "she was never quite right" just made us think that the poor child was born with a Demon inside of her. Or at least some kind of spirit.

We also love how the movie seems to be drawing to a close, with a happy ending for all, and then it goes "Oh, wait. Just one more thing..." That one more thing ended up being a truly terrifying scene, and one of the most memorable of the past two decades.

WELL, WELL, WELL...
We would have really liked more backstory on Samara. We know that the lack of detailed backstory is a big part of what made her character so terrifying, but we're way too curious for our own good, and we really want to know more of the particulars of her birth, and the details of her adoption.

I guess we'll find all of that out in the upcoming prequel, Rings.

WHO IS THE GIRL BEHIND THE HAIR?
Being that this movie is 13 years old now, we have to wonder about the whole VCR Tape thing... I mean, no one really has a VCR anymore, so at some point the whole "you have to make a copy!" thing would have run its course, everyone who had seen the video would have been dead, and Samara's curse would be over. 

So really, the whole premise would become moot once DVD's came into being. *And don't give me the old "Well, they could have just uploaded the video onto the Internet!" bullshit, because back then, the Internet wasn't what it is now, and unless some Tech Geek got a hold of the tape to rip and upload it, no one would have been able to figure it out.

The premise worked really well for the late 90's (when the original story was written) though.

THIS MOVIE MAKES US MISS VIDEOTAPES.
Not a lot of gore in this one, but Samara's victims, when we do see them, are twisted up and mangled in some pretty disturbing ways. There's also plenty of other disturbing imagery throughout, even if very little of it is truly gory.

"MAKE A WISH, SWEETHEART."
It's PG-13, so you know that there isn't going to be any sex or nudity to be found here. Naomi Watts does traipse around in her undies though, if that's your thing.

OH, AND SAMARA IS ALL GROWN UP NOW, AND LOOKS WAY LESS CREEPY.
Never adopt. How many Horror movies do you need to see before you understand that all adopted kids are evil, and will only try to kill you in the end?!? Movies don't lie!

YEAH. SHE'S A KEEPER.
An effective Supernatural Thriller that used the trappings of technology to maximum effect (at least for its time), The Ring is about as solid as a movie of its kind can hope to be. It's intelligent, moody, and most importantly, it's scary enough to get under your skin in the most uncomfortable of ways.

If you haven't already seen this top-notch remake, then you should. 

A

The Ring is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

http://amzn.to/1UUsASo

Oh, Naomi...

6 comments :

  1. Commenting the "THE DOWNRIGHT HORRENDOUS" part, it's probably the reason why even Japan itself think they need to reboot it with those two Sadako movies, with all those update stuff including cellphone and internet. But frankly, VCR is the one that makes the premise sound even more terrifying and old school at the same time.

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    1. We love the whole VCR angle, we just needed a "negative" to harp on a bit, so that was what we went with.

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  2. One of the best horror movies of the past 20 years and, as the reviewer mentions, a remake to boot. Just a constant sense of dread and you can almost feel the pressure throughout the second half of the movie. I do agree came out at the tail end of the VCR era but still resonates with those of us that grew up with them. The idea of technology taking over our lives was not a new one but showing our dependency on television was rather clever. Great cast(Watts in her prime) with a child actor that didn't ruin the movie and Verbinski who would go on to direct the Pirate movies. I remember seeing this at the movies and the imagery bothering me for a week or so. Just something about that weird stuff on the tape that freaks me out. A great flick to watch alone or with friends that never seems to get stale.

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  3. I loved this movie. When I found out it was a remake, I watched the original and loved it, but his is possibly the only case where I liked the remake better than the original. This led me to Kairo and Japanese Horror in general.

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    1. It was a gateway to J-Horror for many people, us included. The Ring helped us discover that Japan, S. Korea, Hong Kong, etc.. were making some truly great movies.

      And yeah, as a remake, it's fantastic.

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