The Ring / Ringu Gore Verbinski and Hideo Nakata

The Ring / Ringu Gore Verbinski and Hideo Nakata
Based on director Hideo Nakata's Japanese horror/thriller success Ringu, The Ring is a creepy, eerie, slightly disturbing but effective thriller that while light on horror, blood and gore, is compelling to follow throughout its numerous twists and turns, drawing you in deep with its slowly spun plot until its prerequisite twist ending. The Ring's concept of a mysterious videotape that causes its viewers to die seven days after watching it is an intelligent one, especially in today's entertainment-obsessed society, and while it may not be a classic, it's better than most. Naomi Watts plays Rachel Keller, a young single mom obsessed with her job as a reporter, who after her niece and a group of her niece's friends die mysteriously, begins to investigate their deaths, quickly unearthing the tape's urban legend and tracking it down. Of course she watches it (wouldn't you?), as eventually does her ex-husband and her young son (played well by David Dorfman), and she receives a phone call informing her she has seven days to live. What follows is a desperate attempt, after initial scepticism, to discover the tape's origins, decipher its rather cryptic, disturbing images and escape the curse before all three die. The Ring utilises a number of effective tricks, from actually counting down the days, to jump-cuts of images of the video throughout (which looks like an avant-garde art film directed by Tool's Adam Jones) to déjà vu-ing images of the video (before you die, you see the ring), all the while slowly but effectively revealing the mystery behind the video. It's good, but what may have made it even better would have been a commentary track from Verbinski. As it is, the extras are relatively light, with just an intriguing but ultimately extraneous short film by Verbinski using unused Ring footage, the full version of The Ring's "death" video and a trailer for Ringu. While claiming to be inspired by Ringu, The Ring is more like an American remake, and the original Ringu drives this point home. Story-wise, Ringu may be slightly more linear, shorter and less complex in its developments, not to mention less arty than The Ring, but it is essentially the same story, with the same, or similar, plot developments and characters. Its more straightforward and slightly more supernaturally-inclined story works for it though, as complexities tend to get lost in sub-titles, and it may even be creepier than its American brother. Extras: The Ring: short film; Ringu trailer; complete "death" video. Ringu: none.
(Dreamworks/Universal)