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The Ring - Special Edition (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES: 'Rings' - a short film that tracks the history of the video tape from The Ring to The Ring Two. Making of. Don't Watch This. Much more... Regions 2/4.

ALL of the essential components required to make a really great horror film are present and correct in The Ring, a genuinely scary remake of the cult Japanese horror film about a blank video tape that means death within seven days for anyone who watches it.

Firstly, there’s the nail-biting opening, usually involving an attractive young damsel in distress, followed by the creepy child with extra-sensory powers, and, finally, the psychological factor - ie, the ability to get into your mind without having to resort to cheap shocks and random blood-letting.

The Ring sets its stall out from the start. Two girls, both attractive, discuss the ‘urban myth’ surrounding the aforementioned video tape, each trying to creep the other out. The only trouble is, one of them claims to have actually seen it, seven days earlier.

Cue lots of mystery phone calls, disappearing acts, dark corridors and weird electrical activity involving the television, before one of the two becomes so terrified, that she is literally scared to death.

Cut to Naomi Watts’ inquisitive reporter, Rachel Keller, who is asked by the parents of the deceased to investigate what happened.

She discovers the tape, watches the surreal montage which appears on it, makes a copy and then has seven days to unravel the mystery before meeting the same fate.

Enlisting the help of her boyfriend (Martin Henderson’s Noah), who also watches it, the film then becomes a race against time for both of them, particularly when the stakes are raised by the fact that Watts’ son, who appears to be psychic, stumbles upon the tape himself.

Ringu, the Japanese classic upon which The Ring is based, became one of the country’s highest grossing films of all time when it was released in 1998 and spawned a sequel, and there is already rumour surrounding the possibility of the US version following the same path.

It is one of the better remakes of recent years and remains a genuinely unsettling and nervy affair.

Ehren (Arlington Road/Scream 3) Kruger’s screenplay does an excellent job of teasing the viewer with the clues contained on the video, while Gore (The Mexican) Verbinski’s direction is suitably creepy throughout.

The film possesses an air of menace which makes it very difficult for viewers to relax, especially if they haven’t seen the original, while the truth behind the tape is well-hidden; it will keep you guessing up until the final reel.

Verbinski also pays clever homage to past Hollywood chillers, with the opening, in particular, evoking memories of the first Scream, and sequences involving Watts’ son harking back to the creepiness which surrounded children in films such as The Shining and The Sixth Sense.

But he also remains fairly true to the spirit of Hideo Nakata's original, particularly when employing the visual gimmickery which surrounds the images on the tape.

In Watts, the film also boasts a suitably feisty leading lady, who lends proceedings a great deal of credibility without feeling the need to resort to the ‘scream queen’ tactics of the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis. She is far more than just a damsel in distress and her quest for the truth is fuelled by the need to protect her son, just as much as saving herself.

Nakata’s template may still be the definitive version, but Verbinski’s clone succeeds by providing mainstream audiences with something all too rare nowadays; an intelligent chiller than engages the intellect as well as making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

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