The Ring
Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman
Directed By:
Gore Verbinski

The Ring begins as many slasher flicks do - two friends are alone in one of the girl's home late at night. Conversation turns to an urban legend about a videotape filled with disturbing images that after the viewer watches, they receive a phone call in which they are told that they will die in seven days. One of the girls reveals that she had actually seen the tape the previous weekend. And from this point, the movie deteriorates from a more traditional horror flick into a psychological terror trip.

Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is a newspaper reporter in Seattle who visits the home of her sister to mourn the death of her niece, who supposedly died of a heart attack. Rachel's sister asks her to look into the girl's death. Before too long, Rachel finds out about the tape and unearths information that the three other people who watched the tape with her niece also died at the same time. When Rachel finally locates the tape, she watches it and immediately gets a phone call in which she is told "Seven days."

Rattled, she enlists the aid of Noah (Martin Henderson), friend and videophile. The two of them begin to investigate the tape, which in itself is pieced together like a disjointed puzzle, full of clues as to it's purpose. Both Rachel and Noah are initially cynical about the validity of the legend, but when various signs from the tape begin showing up in their real lives, they struggle to discover what the tape is trying to tell them.

The Ring is filmed with an intriguing pace that's slow, but deliberate. An undertone of fear seems always present, but doesn't beat you over the head with it. Shocks are random, but there are a few scenes that really build a disturbing tension that set such a tone, you can't help but to be drawn in. The world is often tainted with blue and green hues and every scene seems to be shot with a precise intention.

There are fine performances all around. Both Watts and Henderson are convincing in their very real and humanly flawed roles. David Dorfman plays Aidan, Rachel's son, who seems to have a touch of Sixth Sense's Osment in him, even if it isn't intentional. Bit characters really add to the formula, often injecting enough to the dark mystery to keep you wondering how things got where they did.

The Ring starts with such a standard opening that the events that follow will leave the viewer off-kilter. And, just as you think the ride is about to be over and there's going to be a simple "wrap it up" ending, The Ring throws you a major twist that will leave you rattled as you leave the theater. Be warned - while this film is PG-13 because there is very little in the way of violence, it's impact on those susceptible to psychological horror should not be underestimated. This may be one of the more disturbing films you'll ever get the chance to view.

- - Kinderfeld

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