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the pathetic caverns - movies by title - The Ring

eclectic reviews and opinions

The Ring

2002, D: Gore Verbinski, S: Ehren Kruger

So here's the thing: The Ring has, since I saw it about a month ago, had a more potent and lasting effect on me than any horror film I've seen since Five Million Miles to Earth ... which I saw when I was about 6.

But I have a little trouble explaining why.

It's a bit like Cronenberg's Videodrome crossed with David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, with just a dash of Rosemary's Baby. As the viewer learns in the film's first few minutes, there's a video cassette wandering around, which, when watched, sentences its viewers to die in exactly seven days. The video is eerily reminiscent of the early, formalist films of Peter Greenaway; a little creepy maybe, but not intrinsically horrific. Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson do fine jobs in the lead roles as people who saw the video and are trying to figure a way out of the trap. A lot of the cinematography is very nice; it has a more composed look than many mainstream horror flicks. Like The Others and Blair Witch Project, it relies more on psychological suspense than gore (although it has a bit of that too).

But it's also filled with hoary camera tricks and tired Hollywood clichés. It has an annoying dumbed-down quality every time there's text on the screen (which is rather often) one of the characters has to read it aloud.

Despite these flaws, Watts and Henderson's attempts to unravel the puzzles of the video are compelling, and, perhaps most important, the film has a certain creepy logic. It's not entirely consistent, even internally, but it makes more sense than a lot of horror films, and it has some very striking and disturbing imagery.

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