Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ring, The - 3.5/5

After having a Ringu marathon and watching all four original Japanese films back-to-back, I decided to revisit the American remake which I haven't' seen since it first came out in 2002. I might be bitched out by some elitist horror fanatics by saying this but this remake, especially for being American, is pretty good. I know most of the time American filmmakers tend to fuck up remakes of J-Horror films (Pulse, Shutter, One Missed Call, etc) but The Ring is not the case. The filmmakers actually translated the story to an American audience pretty well, for the most part anyway.

The main basic plot stays pretty close to the original Japanese Ringu film and even incorporates a few ideas from that films sequel Ringu 2. The film begins with two girls talking about how one watched a video tape with scary images. After watching the film she said she received a phone call saying she will die in 7 days. In a nicely crafted sequence, the girl meets her doom. Her mother convinces her friend, who is a reporter, to investigate her mysterious death. She tracks down the tape the girl watched at some remote cabin and where-upon watching it finds that she has become part of the curse and with the aid of ex-tech savvy husband must decipher the meaning of the tape to save her life. It ends up being an engrossing detective mystery involving horses, murder, a girl with long black hair, and a well.

Most of the changes from the original I was okay with and I understand the changes due to make the film appeal to American culture. One aspect I do like better than the original is the images on the tape itself. They are much more memorable and creepy. Besides that I did find a few changes that didn't sit too well with me. The first thing is the young boy character which is the son of our reporter. There was a trend when this film was made to make little boy characters super smart and act like mature adults. I just find it extremely annoying. Perhaps the filmmakers were trying to mimic The Sixth Sense but I have never met a child act like these kids, super smart or not. I also didn't like how they changed the reporter's ex-husband character into a tech savvy buffoon from a mature mathematics professor in Ringu. They also made the girls in the beginning typical self-centered bitches. Do Americans relate better to goofy and self-centered characters? I'm not sure but I do see a trend of this in modern horror films.

Director Gore Verbinski re-shoots many sequences from the original and still manages to make them scary and suspenseful keeping that good old ghost story vibe. Speaking of old ghost story vibe I sure do get a lot of flashes of the haunting classic The Changeling while watching this. Anyone who has seen that film will definitely see the connections, especially with the well under the house. Though director Gore Verbinski keeps the creepy vibe and dread going throughout the entire film but there are a still a few sequences that made for some unintentional laughter. The first has a horse go berserk and jump off a car ferry. The awkward computer effects of the horse falling of the ferry into the water just came out a little silly. The second has a character commit suicide by electrocuting himself in a bathtub with what literally looks like his entire stereo and entertainment system all hooked up beside the tube. Hey buddy, a single hair dryer would have worked just as good.

Other than those two awkward sequences and some character changes, I came out liking this remake almost as much as the original. Perhaps it's the streamlined polished look and American vibe of the film that didn't' make it as creepy as Ringu but overall this is an American remake that does the Japanese original justice.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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