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I don't do this often, but I watched The Ring without having seen Ringu, the film it's a remake of. Just thought I should share that so you can understand my point of view while I watched this horrifying movie. The Ring follows the story of Rachel (Naomi Watts), a single mum with just one child, Aiden (David Dorfman). After Aiden's cousin, a cousin whom Aiden was very close to, is killed exactly one week after watching a cursed video tape, Rachel begins to look a little deeper. However, things become a little more complicated when Rachel finds and watches this cursed tape.
The Ring is a very effective psychological thriller. The film, like a lot of great horror movies, doesn't rely on fountains of gore being hurtled towards the camera. It's a film that plays with your head, and it messes a few things around while it's in their too. Thanks to a creepy screenplay that's full of tense moments drooling with atmosphere, cinematography of a higher class, precise and frightening editing, and solid direction from Gore Verbinski (who I didn't even realise directed this film until the final credits appeared on screen), The Ring works on many levels. It enters into your mind and lurks there, slowly eating away at everything before moving into your eyes, where you swear that you can see things that aren't really there. This film is messed up, and not in an Antichrist sort of way (I reference that movie too much), but in the way that you're left feeling when it's done. You're petrified, disgusted and left wanting more.
Naomi Watts gives a very restraint performance, never allowing herself to go over the top. Her performance is sharp, giving plenty of emotional all while trying to hide all of her fear inside, never allowing it to let it go. We can tell that her character is haunted by what she's witnessing, but she doesn't have to give us a scream every few minutes to remind us of it. It's neither her best performance or her worst. It's something in-between. Well above average, but just below amazing. She's persistent, never showing hesitation, but, again, that's simply the way her character works. Perhaps that's just the reason why the performance is so good. Good god, I have no idea what I'm talking about right now, but I'd suggest going along with it and nodding your head politely.
When this film isn't completely terrifying or excellently acted, it hardly ever fails. The film is just all-around entertaining, leaving you speechless once it cuts to black (or static). The only flaws I have with this film come when I really try to nitpick, which I hate doing with films I adore, much like this one. There's a minor, not even a plot-line really, scenario that's introduced towards the end of the second act/start of the third. It's established then forgotten about, although the most logical cause for this was the curse of The Ring, but I would still have liked some sort of explanation or progress.
To sum up, The Ring is a highly effective psychological thriller with high class cinematography, a creepy screenplay, plenty of atmosphere, solid direction, excellent performances and plenty of moments of sheer, haunting terror.
4 1/2 Stars