The Ring (2002) is an American remake of the classic Japanese psychological horror film Ringu (1998) which was based on the novel Ring by Koji Suzuki. I might be wrong in thinking this but The Ring (2002) was the first major remake of a Japanese horror movie by Hollywood and whether you enjoyed it or not it turned out to be a huge success with a sequel in 2005 and a further sequel/reboot coming this year (Rings).
With success comes money and The Ring happened to make nearly two hundred and fifty million dollars in theatres worldwide on a forty eight million dollar budget. Had it not triumphed at the box-office we might not have had the avalanche of J-Horror remakes that would follow. Believe it or not but 2002 was 14 years ago so I thought I’d go back to where it all began and see if it had aged well or if it was as inferior to the original as I remembered.
Just like Ringu, The Ring begins with two teenagers (Katie & Becca) discussing an urban legend about a video tape that kills the viewer seven days after watching it. Katie admits to watching the tape with her boyfriend and two others at a cabin and this just so happened to be a week ago to the day. Suddenly, the telephone rings and both of the teenagers are initially startled, but the caller turns out to be Katie’s mother. After speaking with her mother, Katie begins to notice eerie noises coming from upstairs, where her friend had supposedly gone.
Reaching the top of the stairs, Katie notices water leaking from her bedroom and as soon as she opens the door, she sees an image of a well on her TV screen. It is later revealed that Katie had basically been scared to death, she was found huddled in a nearby closet with a grotesque, twisted expression of fear on her face. The quick image that flashes of her terrified face is something that will certainly stick with you; it’s pretty damn creepy to be fair. I find it kind of silly that it is just accepted that she died from a scare that was big enough to literally stop her heart. I mean, is that a thing or? I guess you could say they had nothing else to go on and were mourning but it could have used better explaining.
Anyway, at the very least Katie’s mother isn’t buying that crap so she asks Katie’s Aunt Rachael to investigate her strange death. Rachel’s son Aidan also tells her that Katie predicted her own death about a week ago. Rachel learns Katie’s three friends also died on the same date and time and yet nobody thought that was a little odd?
Travelling to Shelter Mountain Inn, Rachel discovers the videotape and watches its haunting imagery in the cabin Katie stayed in. The cabin’s telephone rings and on the line, a girl’s voice tells Rachel she has “seven days”.
The movie really slows down at this point; it becomes surprisingly dull until the climax. You’re stuck with Rachel as she tries to piece her life back together while attempting to save herself and any further victims of the deadly video tape. There is a bunch of backstory surrounding the origins of the tape and the young girl within it.
One of the main things I remember disliking about the remake was the entire story involving Anna Morgan, the woman in the tape who was a deceased horse breeder from Moesko Island; she committed suicide after her beloved horses all drowned from a mysterious ailment. Rachel visits the Morgan Ranch but is quickly dismissed by Anna’s husband Richard when she starts asking questions about their adopted daughter Samara.
This section of the film is extremely heavy on dialogue with very little of anything happening at all. I appreciate them attempting to change things up with the backstory of the tape and the mystery surrounding the death of Samara but quite simply, it’s a chore to sit through.
Also, it’s hard to give this movie credit for the all of the things that are really imaginative and creative because those are the elements that were taken directly from the original. The moments where they decided to change things up or add something new is where the film struggles. The concept is undoubtedly solid, although it all surrounding the idea that a video tape needs to be passed on from person to person is obviously extremely dated. Imagine if Samara depended on having the tape passed around in modern times, she’d be screwed. I think for this reason alone, a modern sequel/reboot using the latest technology is actually a really smart idea and one that could be very interesting if done correctly.
Finally, I didn’t find the movie to be particularly scary which disappointed me because the concept should be ripe for some decent scares. The overly long middle third really dragged on, it lost a lot of the momentum that it had gained from the initial third.
I don’t want to come across like I’m biased but it’s hard not to compare it to the original and while it is by no means terrible, it’s still inferior in my eyes. Just to reiterate, The Ring does a lot of things right but those things were done in Ringu and they were done better with less reliance on imagery or special effects, Ringu depended more on atmosphere and psychological scares.
I can’t think of a better word to describe The Ring other than overrated, it hasn’t aged well. When people remember The Ring they’ll likely mention the creepy image of the terrified girl in the closet at the start of the film. They might talk of the tape and its imagery or the ending when Samara crawls out of the TV. Those moments make up a really small part of this film and happen at the beginning and end. Basically, nobody remembers anything else because it’s so damn boring and not very scary at all. Everything that was basically ripped from the original is great but everything new that was added is pointless. Why does Rachel’s son have psychic powers? Why even? I know the original requires a small amount of reading but just watch that instead man, it’s so much better.
(Scary Movie ruined this forever)