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Thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Verbinski.  Thank you for bringing horror fans (and movie fans, in general) an intelligent, suspenseful film to the big screen.  Despite the legends, I will continue to hold this movie in my collection and view it often.  I did not die in seven days, but I won’t be answering the phone for a while, either!

Ring, The
Gore Verbinski ( The Mexican, Mouse Hunt) has run with his first opportunity at making a horror movie and, in the process, handed fans of the genre a taught, suspense filled thriller with brains and scares.  The movie opens with what has become an obligatory “opening scare” that involves two girls, Katie and Becca, scaring each other with talk of a videotape.  The tape, it seems, is cursed and after the viewer watches it, he or she receives a call explaining his or her fate: death will come in seven days.  Kate admits that she has seen the tape.  In a scene of brilliant tension, this opener takes us through Katie’s final minutes; it has been exactly seven days to the hour since she has seen the tape.

We are then introduced to Katie’s cousin, Aidan, and her aunt, Rachel Keller (played by Naomi Watts, Mulholland Dr.).  Rachel is a newspaper reporter and, at Katie’s wake, begins a search for the cause of Katie’s death.  Rachel learns of the cursed videotape and is quickly tangled in the mystery.  Her detective work leads her to Shelter Mountain Inn where she watches the video tape and receives the legendary call.  “Seven days,” she is told, and the count down begins.

Rachel and friend Noah (who also watches the tape) work together to discover the origins of the tape.  The hints are many and varied and, at first, don’t seem to add up to much.  There are horses, a lighthouse and a family called the Morgans.  How they are linked and what they have to do with the videotape, I will never tell.  Midway through the film, the urgency the investigation carries is increased and the ramifications of the reality of the urban legend are amplified.

The movie is expertly directed.  There’s a drenching rain to many of the scenes and even when the weather clears up, their remains a wetness of dread.  The colors are subdued except for a red that figures prominently into the story.  Overall, Verbinski has shown his talent in droves here, successfully keeping the pace taught, the visuals interesting and the tensions paramount.  

The acting is great across the board.  Some mention was made of the performance of the young boy, but I found him to be quite charming and much better than many child actors.  Naomi Watts does well (even if she is handed some questionable lines) and very much shows her versatility of the actress.  Her work here is completely different than knockout performance in Mulholland Dr..  

The only problem I found with the movie is that, taken in a series of unnerving parts, there are some moments that feel very familiar.  The film borrows heavily from other popular horror films.  Aside from this, however, the sum of the parts shines as an excellent horror film.

This film has a long history.  It is a remake of a Japanese film, Ringu, which is an adaptation of a book.  I have seen Ringu and find that film to be slightly scarier, though lacking in plot.   The Ring fleshes out the story and accurately recreates the impending dread of the original film.  This movie is a genre fan’s dream: a suspenseful, smart horror movie that, as a whole, is highly original.   The Ring make no attempt to spoon feed the audience and leaves the viewer to connect the dots.

Ring, The

The ring is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The video here is superb.  Darks are deep and the colors, while intentionally subdued, are crisp.  There are a minimum of edge enhancements present, but it never becomes a distraction.  The video contains no compression artifacts.  Overall, the video is excellent.

The disc contains both a Dolby Digital 5.1 tack and a DTS track.  Not surprisingly, when comparing several key scenes, the DTS proved to be superior.  The mix is great and engulfs the viewer.  Key sounds are used to heighten the suspense through the picture.  The soundtrack is a clean, aggressive surround mix.  Also included is a a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Ring, The
Disappointingly, the extras here are almost non-existent.  There’s a featurette, labeled as “Don’t Watch This”, which is a short-film put together exclusively for this DVD.  This is basically a collection of deleted scenes and alternate takes strung together in a hectic fashion.  This is a condensed version of the main film and allows us to see some of the scenes that were deleted, but made it into the trailers.

Secondly, there is an option called “Look Here”.  This is a collection of trailers that include The Ring and Ringu.

Does this slim presentation of features indicate an inevitable “Special Edition” in the near future?  I’m not so sure.  I’ve seen many reports that indicate Verbinski wanted to maintain the mystery of the film by choosing to not include many features.  While this is clever, I would have loved to have seen a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Ring, The
Horror fans rejoice!   The Ring is a suspenseful film that never resorts to graphic violence and contains not a single blonde running the wrong way.  At the core of this movie is a simple story (a videotape that kills) and, no matter how corny the premise may sounds, the plot has been carefully conceived.  This is a smart thriller no matter how you look at it.  While the DVD offers up great examples of excellent video and sound presentations, the features leave much to be desired.  I may be wrong, but don’t hold your breath for a feature packed “Special Edition”.  Buy this movie now.