Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Brian Cox, David Dorfman, Martin Henderson, Naomi Watts
Runtime: 115 minutes
I am doing Verbinski’s American remake instead of the original Japanese Ringu for a simple reason. I haven’t seen Ringu. You see, I’m legally blind, so watching movies with subtitles are often difficult for me. So I stick to remakes or dubbed versions if I can when it comes to foreign films. I don’t think that it’s status alone as a remake should make it any less valuable.
That out of the way, this is alternately a disturbing, effective, and confusing film. I remember that it was pretty big when it came out—people were flocking to see it, and the theater was pretty full when I went, which is not that usual for me, as I almost never go on opening weekend. I remember the trailer intriguing me: it conveyed the very basic plot, the cursed videotape that, once you watch it, makes you die in seven days.
That sounded like a cool idea to me. When I saw it in the theater with a few friends, I remember them saying afterward, “OK, can you explain to me what happened?” That’s likely a common response—negative reviews accuse it of being messy and filled with unexplained plot holes. To a certain extent, it does leave holes, but as I think we’re starting to see, horror is often about mystery, about not explaining the horrible.Although there is an explanation given about the tape, it’s more of a mystical explanation than a concrete one of how the tape got made. Samara, a young girl with mysterious powers (Daveigh Chase), appears on the tape, along with an array of seemingly unrelated ordinary and disturbing images, making it look like an avant-garde grad student art film. But through the investigations of a reporter who has seen the tape (Naomi Watts), we come to see the story behind the images. Still, some things are not explained—like how the tape got made in the first place, and how it got in the hands of others.
I can’t say that I felt the acting was that impressive. I think it was the mood of the film that was most compelling for me—dark, gothic, and at times, grotesque. There’s also a scene with a horse. Yeah, forget Samara. That damn horse was scary!