Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
The Ring (2003)

Here comes the fear. An unmarked videotape is circulating in Seattle. Seven days after you watch it, you die - face frozen in a rictus of terror.

Grabs the attention, dunnit?

Presumably that's why the dollar-spying honchos at DreamWorks tapped Japanese hit "Ringu" for this surprising remake - surprising, in that it's not terrible.

As with the 1998 original, a reporter investigates the tape, spurred on by the mysterious death of her niece - who carks it in a creepy opening scene.

But once Rachel (the excellent Naomi Watts) tracks down the offending VHS, she can't resist taking a peek. She soon begins to fear that curiosity kills more than just cats.

Central to the success of "The Ring" - such as it is - is the tape itself, with its blend of gruesome and eerie images - including an impaled finger, haunted woman, and the titular vision itself.

It's effectively disturbing stuff and the troubling pictures don't stop there. Gore Verbinski creates beautifully-composed pictures of unpleasantness throughout - moments that sneak around the memory for days after viewing.

The problem is that moments is all they are - stylish snapshots diminished by the soggy script, which only differs from its (overrated) antecedent by introducing mostly boring backstory.

Even the appearance of the ever-menacing Brian Cox can't justify the extended exposition, which makes the movie feel overlong, although it's under two hours.

Still, those looking for a few Friday night chills won't be disappointed, while high-minded horror fans can feel smug as they spot the fear of family and film subtext.

"The Ring" may not be worth rewinding, but scare-seekers should give it a play.

End Credits

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: Ehren Kruger

Stars: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn, Richard Lineback, Daveigh Chase, Rachael Bella

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Length: 115 minutes

Cinema: 21 February 2003

Country: USA

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