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RJ Bayley Reviews: The Ring (2002)

by RJ Bayley

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By RJBayley

The early noughties trend of American remakes of J-horror featuring lank haired children was old before it’s time. Hell, the original J-horror films featuring lank haired children were old before their time.

Director Gore Verbinski’s The Ring, (yes, the man who engineered the initial Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) starring Naomi Watts, (yes, another Naimoi Watts film) was the first of the American J-horror remakes out of the gate and is generally considered the best, even if it is generally maligned by the horror community these days.

12 years down the line and The Ring is very dated, but not dated in a charming Hammer or Universal way. The films of those famous houses of horror are from a time most of us weren’t around to remember, and if we were, it certainly isn’t a recent memory. Indeed those films are often set a century before they were made anyway, so they’re directly removed from us. You might as well set some of them in Middle-Earth.

It’s also worth noting that when there’s something cursed or mystical, it’s generally a book of some description, an object we still use today. Videotapes however? Not so much. It’s a testament to The Ring then that it still manages to entertain so much given it could have been a camp time capsule. The film itself is never scary but the killer video itself is affective and there’s some genuinely haunting imagery in there. There’s fine exploitation of the mechanics of actual VHS as well which are clever.

Brian Cox is always welcome in a cast, Watts gives a superior performance to the original’s Nanako Matsushima, and the ghostly island is a strong location. It’s just all a bit dated and nothing special. But then again, so is the original.

★★

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