The Ring (2002) - Gore Verbinski

The Ring (70)

The most successful J-Horror remake of the early 2000's.

Director

Gore Verbinski

Producers

Walter F. Parkes
Laurie MacDonald

Starring

Naomi Watts
Martin Henderson
Brian Cox

Studios

BenderSpink
Parkes/MacDonald Productions
DreamWorks Pictures

Release date

October 18, 2002

Country

USA

Budget

$48 million

Box office

$249.3 million

The Ring is an American remake of the Japanese film Ringu. It is directed by Gore Verbinski. Good hands when it comes to direction. He had brought us a few other horror movies like A Cure for Wellness (2016) and Terrifying Tales (1989). But he's known for the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The Ring kicked off a trend of Japanese horror remakes that didn't do so well. I had remembered being mildly interested in the film upon its release. But never watched it until now. I liked it.

There is a VHS tape out there floating through the world. When curious and unsuspecting people watch the tape, they die a horrible death seven days later. Rachel and Noah are two young adults that get caught up in the hype after Rachel’s sister Katie dies. They both watch the tape. Unfortunately, Rachel’s moody son Aiden watches it too. This leads to Rachel becoming obsessed with finding the source of the evil cassette. She goes looking for answers to the questions that the tape vaguely presents. Her journey leads her to the dark and disturbing tale of Anna and her adopted daughter, Samara.

Production on this film started in 2000 without a script. Ringu had been a success in Japan. Director Hideo Nakata brought a fresh and exciting ideas to the horror world. But it would only be a matter of time before “Big Hollywood” would  seek to make their own western version. This infuriated hardcore fans of the original. But that didn’t stop the movie from becoming successful. Some theaters had even given out copies of the “cursed VHS tape” as a freebie to people attending the premier. The footage promoted the film's release on late-night television without mentioning the title. It all proved to be successful because the movie made $249 Million dollars worldwide.

I am not a big fan of these early two-thousands horror films. Most are abysmal CGI snooze-fests. But this one feels different. The atmosphere is cold and dead. Scenes have an equally moody soundtrack presented by legendary composer Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight, The Lion King, Gladiator, etc…). This feature had been so successful that it kicked-off the “J-Horror” trend in Hollywood that brought us movies like The Grudge, Dark Water, One Missed Call and The Eye. Among others. 

The cast is solid. Naomi Watts is our featured lead, Rachel. She does a great job. I loved her character. David Dorfman is great too. For a child actor, he can put on a mature performance. David did well in this as Rachel’s son, Aiden. Also, Daveigh Chase did fantastic as our demonic villain Samara Morgan. She is just scary to look at. Brian Cox and Martin Henderson also give solid performances. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by Adam Brody.

The film has an overarching sense of dread and fear. The “cursed tape” is scary, and I liked the inclusion of subliminal messages. Samara is freaky too. But it doesn’t feel much like a typical horror movie from the time. Instead of jump scares we get a creepy atmosphere that sets a suspenseful tone. The perfect feeling that sits heavy on late winter nights. 

This is an awesome feature for horror movie fans. I highly recommend The Ring. If you’re looking for a scary feature, then this is it. It’s not overly scary, making it a good date night picture. The performances aren’t offensive and it’s not gory or bloody at all. But it’s still creepy. Too much for younger viewers. Need more of a reason to watch it? In 2003 the film had won Best Horror Movie and Best Villain at the MTV Movie and Teen Choice Awards.