It begins as just another urban legend - the whispered tale of a nightmarish videotape that causes anyone who watches it to die seven days later. But when four teenagers all meet with mysterious deaths exactly one week after watching just such a tape, investigative reporter Rachel Keller tracks down the video... and watches it. Now, the legend is coming true, the clock is ticking and Rachel has just seven days to unravel the mystery of The Ring.
"Here we go, the world is spinning. When it stops, it's just beginning. Sun comes up, we laugh and we cry. Sun goes down, and then we all die. "
- Samara Morgan
Where does one begin when attempting to review Gore Verbinski's The Ring
? There is so much to be said that it's hard to gather ones thoughts in preparation. Well, lets see what I can do...
As many of you already know, The Ring is is based on the Japanese film Ringu
. (Leave it to us Americans to steal other countries triumphs. Sigh.) Ringu
gained a massive cult following after its 1998 release in Japan. I'm still not sure who was the orchestrator of remaking it in America (because I'm too damn busy to even think most of the time) but I sure hope the creators in Japan had a massive payday when it was decided.
The Gory Good: This movie is unbelievably brilliant. Most of the time, when films are remade, the directors and writers fuck everything up. For example; Marcus Nispel's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2004, Alexandre Aja's The Hills Have Eyes in 2006 and Sam Raimi's The Grudge in 2004. These were all attempts to remake classic films that were doomed from the start. Needless to say, remaking classic horror films is a risky business. But somehow, the filmmakers of The Ring pulled it off with remarkable success.
All too often, the extra effort to make the viewer feel true fear in the pit of their stomachs is traded for tits and gore. Which isn't necessarily bad because those are what make the Horror genre so successful, tits and gore. But it's always a breath of fresh air when a film like The Ring comes along and actually makes me squiggle in my office chair with excitement and fear. Which is exactly what I do after deciding to throw in the DVD while working on the site. It's always a pleasure.
Naomi Watts is smokin' hot in this film. Perhaps that's part of what makes us men jump so much throughout the film. We'll be staring at Naomi Watts while pitching a tent-for-two in our pants when WHAM! That half-rotten chick with the long black hair will snap into the frame like a nightmarish version of a young Bettie Page and cause us to stab ourselves in the eye! Now, you want to talk about horror? Imagine the horror when you return from getting popcorn to discover 37 men with their mahogany securely lodged in their eye socket. Woah... I was scared.
The cast was chosen perfectly. There's not one role that was cast with a shitty actor, which is super rare these days, and it was nice to see Rachael Bella (Edward Furlong's wife) make an appearance. I've always liked her. Brian Cox also did a great job. I've been a fan of his ever since Braveheart.
The Bloody Bad: There isn't much to say here. I would've made a few adjustments during the climax scene, but I won't ruin that part of the film by speaking of it. Also, I would've made the "cursed tape" a little bit more gory. It already has great shots of maggots, nails through fingers and dead horses on the beach, but I would've added a bit more. Something with the human eye. Perhaps a razor blade slowly being dragged across, deep inside the core. Yeah, that would've been nice.
Slaughter/Carnage/Butchery: There's not much death in the film, but that's made up for in style. There is a scene near the beginning where we see a young woman's rotten corpse curled up in her closet with this look of shier horror across her face. It's probably the most convincing and creepy supernatural death scene I've had the pleasure of viewing. Also, when Martin Henderson's character is offed... ohhhh man. Fuck yeah.
Tits and Ass:
Sniffle... tear. Zero. The closest we get is Naomi Watts in her bra and panties. Which I think caused alot of those eye socket injuries we talked about.
- To avoid being banned the original UK cinema version was cut to completely remove the knife fight.
- The role of Rachel was first offered to Jennifer Connelly. The script was then offered to Gwyneth Paltrow, and then to Kate Beckinsale, and finally Naomi Watts.
- Chris Cooper was supposed to be featured in a small role as a child murderer. Though his scenes were allegedly filmed and his name was included in early promotional materials (and on the film's official website) he's nowhere to be seen in the final theatrical cut.
- Subliminal frames from the Ring video are inserted in the film. For example, the 'Ring' image can be glimpsed for a fraction of a second in the transition between the ferry/horse sequence and Rachel's car drive to Anna Morgan's farm on Moesko Island.
- The other videos on the shelf where Rachel finds the Ring video are: Shattered, Scent of a Woman, Spontaneous Combustion, Mondo di Yor, Il, Sodom and Gomorrah, The Looking Glass War, Visions of a New World, Family Plot, Steel Magnolias, The Man from Snowy River and School Ties.
- The original WGA-approved credits listed Hiroshi Takahashi (writer of the original 1998 screenplay for Ringu but his name is absent from the final print.
- There are several visual references to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, including Rear Window, Psycho and Family Plot. Ironically, Hitchcock himself once directed a totally unrelated boxing movie called The Ring.
- Subtle images of circles in various forms, such as the designs on the doctor's sweater, the shower drain and Rachel's apartment number, appear throughout the movie.
- The red Japanese maple (seen in the video) was artificial, built out of steel tubing and plaster, with painted silk for the leaves. (The crew dubbed it "Lucille" after "a certain red-haired actress"). While filming in Washington state, the tree was erected three times, only to have it knocked over by nearly 100-mile-an-hour wind gusts. In Los Angeles it was erected for a fourth time, only to be blown down again, this time by 60-mile-an-hour winds.
- The tree with the fiery red leaves featured in the movie is a Japanese maple. The fruit of this tree is known as a "samara".
- In both the American and Japanese versions, the name of the little girl is connected to a story about death. The name "Samara" refers to a story retold by W. Somerset Maugham (Appointment in Samarra) about a man who meets Death in the marketplace and flees to the town of Samarra.
- Production designer Tom Duffield relied on Andrew Wyeth paintings as his main visual inspiration for the film.
- Chris Cooper can be seen at the end of the film in Noah's loft. His photograph is on the newspaper that that is revealed when Noah moves his coffee cup.
- When Noah and Rachel return to the inn, at the end of the movie, there's a sign that reads "Closed until further notice", under the "Shelter Mountain Inn" sign. In an earlier cut of the film, the cabin manager dies from watching the tape (see "Alternate Versions"). Probably that's the reason for the inn being closed.
- An interesting feature on the VHS release: rewind the tape to the very beginning. (Or just put the tape in the VCR when fully rewound.) When you play it, you see the cursed video. After the segment ends, you hear a phone ringing twice, then it goes into the previews. Also after the movie has ended, you see additional scenes that help explain the mystery of the cursed video.
- Scott Frank revised the screenplay.
- This film was originally promoted under the title "Ring," like "Ringu", the original Japanese film upon which it is based. Shortly before release, the title was changed to "The Ring".
- In keeping with the Japanese references, among the dinosaur toys on Aiden's nightstand is a toy from a Japanese cartoon. The whale-like creature on a small stand is a "Musuka" from the cartoon Blue Submarine No. 6.
- The videotape with the word "copy" is the video tape from the original movie.
- Sold more than 2 million DVD copies in the US alone in its first 24 hours of video release.
- On its first week of release in the US and Canada, select cinemas put actual copies of "the" cursed tape on seats for unsuspecting viewers as freebies.
- A Bad Religion sticker is partially visible in Noah's locker in the A/V room; Gore Verbinski (credited as Gore Verbinsky) directed the 1994 music video for "American Jesus" from Bad Religion's 1993 Epitaph Records release "Recipe For Hate". Other stickers visible in the locker include those for Epitaph bands Pennywise, The Refused, Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards, and Descendents.
- Playing the movie frame by frame, in the exact moment when Katie Embry is scared to death at the beginning of the movie, you can see all the images that appear on the video. Each image appears for just a fraction of a second. The effect is repeated at the end of the movie.
- The "Moesko Island Lighthouse" is a fictional name for a real lighthouse located in Newport, Oregon. Built in 1873, the real lighthouse is named Yaquina Head Lighthouse and is still currently an active aid to navigation.
- Long before the movie premiered, the killer video was used as a commercial. The commercial did not mention any movie for nearly a month.
- There are no title cards or opening credits to the movie, although there is a flash of 'The Ring' during the Dreamworks logo.
- The cursed "video" is available as an easter egg on the DVD. Select look here and press down and your cursor will disappear. Press enter. This has an interesting feature; your remote control is disabled. Once the "video" has started playing, you can't stop it, pause it, fast-forward it, or return to the menu. Unless you turn off the TV, you're forced to watch the whole thing. When it's over, the DVD returns to the menu, then you hear a phone ring twice before you're given control over your remote again.
- Among the visual references to Psycho: The close-up of the drain when Rachel showers. Katie and her friends stayed in cabin 12 ("12 cabins, 12 vacancies"). Rachel swinging the chair around with Noah in it near the end of the movie.
- The pen that Rachel Keller uses throughout the film is a Sensa.
- In the space of four years since the original Ringu, the production budget multiplied roughly forty-fold.
- Among Samara's medical files is a piece of paper containing the name "Anna" and oriental writing. The writing is a combination of Chinese and Japanese letters, and roughly translated it is a prescription for "purging agents".
- To promote this film the studio placed copies of the mysterious "killer tape" at concerts and events. The tape had a label directing whoever watched it to a web site (www.anopenletter.com) supposedly written by a pedophile who'd seen the tape and was now trying to warn others about his impending fate (this was the character portrayed by Chris Cooper in a sub-plot deleted from the theatrical release). The website contained links that led to other movie-related mock-ups, including a page written by one of Katie's friends who was unaware of Katie's death and believed she'd been kidnapped or run away, and a page written by scientists who researched psychic phenomena involving television transmissions. When the movie was released, Dreamworks deleted all the Web pages and denied ever having anything to do with them.
- The ring shape motif is unique to the American remake. Kôji Suzuki, the author of the novel upon which the movies are based, says that the title referred to the cyclical nature of the curse, since, for the viewer to survive after watching it, the video tape must be copied and passed around over and over.
- During the scene in which Rachel is on the balcony looking into windows of another building, shown on the TV of the third window she peaks at, is a Taiwanese soft drink commercial, featuring actor Takeshi Kaneshiro. This commercial is made in the early-'90s, when Takeshi's career was mainly in Taiwan as a pop idol.
- The October 3rd, 2001 draft of the screenplay credits Scott Frank as a writer.
- During the cursed video, about 25 seconds in, a young boy's muffled singing can faintly be heard. This audio track is taken from The Innocents.