THE RING concludes with the lines “What about the person we show it to? What happens to them?” , which begs answering with “Well, if it’s this movie we’re talking about, they’ll be a little irritated they spent nearly two hours getting to its wet noodle finish.” The very popular 2002 supernatural spookout starts well, has some effective scenes and is really lucky to sport a top-notch leading lady, but in the end The Ring — take your pick—(a) goes around the rosy (b) leaves one around the TV (c) is a fake and the jeweler ripped you off (d) should be in your nose if you believe any of it.
A Seattle journalist (Naomi Watts) investigates the sudden bizarre death of her niece, and finds it linked not only to a hypnotic, purportedly evil videotape, but several other horrific, coincidentally timed fatalities. Watch the tape, the phone rings, and you’re told you have seven days to live (akin to e-mails from the Vice-President of Nigeria informing you that you have 12 hours to claim your twenty million dollars). Her ex-boyfriend (Martin Henderson), father of her spooky little boy (David Dorfman), helps her track down clues, leading to a bitter former horse-breeder—are there any happy ones?—played by Brian Cox, in his grumpy mode.
The further it goes, the sillier it gets, although it looks good (rainy Washington and Oregon locations shot by cameraman Bojan Bazelli), with some arresting makeup and effects, and a jarring sequence with a runaway horse on a ferry. The sound is also well-done. But it goes on, and on, and after Watts survives a 50-foot plunge down a well—into three feet of water, unharmed—grip slackens and gripe takes over.
After toiling in nothing roles for 14 years, fetching Naomi finally broke through in ’91 with a stunner performance in David Lynch’s weird and wonderful instant classic Mulholland Drive. This doom-toss was her next up, and it did well by many critics and left a $48,000,000 price tag vanquished by a global fan harvest of $249,300,000.
Ring me this, Batgirl—Naomi Watts would make the discovery of gravel worth tuning in for; she’s never less than excellent, though here she comes close to exhausting her impressive supply of puzzled & worried looks and emergency kit of dawning-recognition-of-horror faces. She does give forth with a couple of her tremendous screams—with her later lung-busting shrieks in King Kong and The Impossible we hereby christen her The Best Screamer in Moviedom (apologies to Fay W.)
Directed by Gore Verbinksi, with a script by Ehren Kruger, adapted from the just plain Ring, a major cult hit out of Japan in 1998, in turn based on a book of the same name written by Koki Suzuki six years earlier (those who read it died, others found their copies; hmm, kore wa nan desu ka?…).
With Daveigh Chase, Jane Alexander, Amber Tamblyn, Shannon Cochran and Rachael Bella. Followed, predictably, by two lesser sequels. What indisputably was a raging success would be little Mr. Dorfman. A quietly upset, camera confident 9 here, he went on to be admitted to UCLA at 13, graduating valedictorian, thence to Harvard Law School, emerging from that bona fide evil-spawning horror show Magna Cum Laude at 21. Supernatural indeed!