Back in the mythological times of Ancient Greece, many ancient warriors wanted to claim the head of the snake-haired Gorgon sister, Medusa. Medusa was so hard to attack because one look into her eyes would spell your demise.
In “The Ring” a new film from Dreamworks, a mysterious videotape is watched by a pair of teenage girls. The tape drives one girl to end up in a mental institution and the other to mysteriously die. The tape eventually makes it into the hands of Rachel Keller, a single mother (Naomi Watts of “Mulholland Drive“) and her young son, Aidan.
Rachel is a reporter and begins an investigation to what happened to the two girls (one of the girls happens to be Rachel’s niece). Rachel finds herself slipping down a very slippery slope as she soon discovers that others who had seen the tape had only lived for 7 days after seeing the tape. The tape turns out to be the summit of a giant mystery that will bring Rachel and the people she cares about to the brink of death. What kind of power is housed within the tape? What are the secrets surrounding the tape?
“The Ring” is a nail-biter from the opening frame. It is a roller coaster for the mind that doesn’t let go till every pinpointed detail is revealed. I loved the feeling of this movie as it plays with your mind as the cleverly conceived plot unfolds. The film isn’t afraid to slowly release detail after detail very slowly and methodically. A lot of films these days tend to bash us over the head with a shock-ending or gross-fest but this film is too clever for either movie invention.
I loved that the film was multi-layered in that if you guessed a section of the secret you wouldn’t be disappointed when it came to the final frame. There are just so many twists and turns.
The film is a remake of a 1998 Japanese horror film called “Ringu” which I have never seen and I am sure that this version will the first time Western audiences are exposed to this story. If anything it may help Western audiences to look more closely at Japanese horror. Or at least open our eyes to the possibility.
Director Gore Verbinski (“Mouse Hunt” and “The Mexican“) wasn’t afraid to get dark and spooky with this project. Verbinski’s cinematographer Bojan Bazelli photographs the film very gritty but invokes the camera to do some very interesting angles. Bazelli’s dark gritty gift of camera photography was also witnessed in some of his other works like 1993’s “Kalifornia” and “Boxing Helena” as well as 1992’s “Body Snatchers“. Bazelli created a very lush look for 1998’s “Dangerous Beauty” but he seems to have gone back to what he does best with “The Ring“.
I really enjoyed Naomi Watts in her breakthrough role in “Mulholland Drive“. Naomi continues her strong screen presence and knack for being able to soar in experimental projects with grace and acting passion. There was darkness in “Mulholland Drive” which could have been overtaken by a weak actress but Naomi stood her ground. She continues the trend by making Rachel Keller a real and strong female character. I will be interested to see what she does next.
My only slight problem with the film was the strength of Rachel Keller’s romantic interest, Noah (played by relative newcomer Martin Henderson (Windtalkers)). I found that we never got a chance to know Noah except through the eyes of Rachel and Aidan. I also found Henderson’s performance a little lacking. I never felt he contributed much to the feelings in the film and that he was just there. I wonder how he was used in the Japanese version of the film.
What make films like this so draining and an unreal experience are the conversations that tend to awaken when you exit the theatre. You want so badly to debate and discuss what you have just witnessed. There hasn’t been a thriller this clever since the “Sixth Sense” and it surely will be looked at as the thriller of the year. This is one of the best films of the year.
4.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer.