Where is caller ID when you need it? In THE RING, right after you
view a certain videotape, a caller, from what sounds like the Great
Beyond, tells you that you have seven days to live. The Grim Reaper
on the phone is a female with a very precise stop watch. Seven days
to the second after you see the tape, you will die, and it won't be
pretty. (If this sounds a bit like this past summer's trashy FEARDOTCOM,
it is. But that movie was about viewing a web site, and it's several
orders of magnitude in quality below THE RING.)
THE RING, directed by Gore Verbinski (THE MEXICAN and MOUSE HUNT),
is based on RINGU, a Japanese box office hit. This American version
stars Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller, an investigative reporter who
is asked by one of the victim's mothers to investigate the events
surrounding her daughter's demise. You will remember Watts from a
much more bizarre mystery, last year's wacky and weird MULHOLLAND DR.
Like a scientist who tries out her vaccine on herself first, Rachel
has to watch the killer tape as soon as she gets her hands on it.
It starts with the image of a ring and gets very strange after that.
Think of it as a video collage made by Lizzie Borden. When Rachel
can't figure it out, she takes the tape to Noah (Martin Henderson),
her video geek friend. She hopes that he can find subliminal messages
and other clues on it. Of course, this means that he'll have to see
it too -- and be toast soon after she departs this life.
Although THE RING has horror picture elements, it is more of an intriguing
mystery and detective story than a shocker, no matter what the film's
marketing might lead you to believe. The seven days of the rest of
Rachel's life are counted on the screen, which adds to the tension.
David Dorfman, who plays Rachel's son, Aidan, and who looks a bit
like Haley Joel Osment, gives the movie some of the feel of THE SIXTH
SENSE. He sees dead people too.
The ingredients of the mystery include dead horses, a lighthouse and
even a fly. Don't try too hard to guess what will happen since they
are several unpredictable twists. It's a satisfying little thriller
that'll provide a couple of opportunities to put some distance between
your buttock and the seat cushion. And did I mention that the cast
includes Brian Cox? That's always a good sign.
THE RING runs 1:55. It is rated PG-13 for "thematic elements, disturbing
images, language and some drug references" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes