Though the majority of truly effective scares in The Ring resound most clearly when borrowed from the original source material, Gore Verbinski's reworking of the phenomenally successful 1998 Japanese film Ringu is a suitably chilling version of the story, which has already seen a Korean remake, two sequels, and a made-for-television movie. Wisely opting for a sustained sense of dread over a series of shock scenes or an over-reliance on special effects, The Ring also benefits from the suitable and assured lead performance of actress Naomi Watts, despite some over-dramatization of events early on. The majority of newly incorporated plot elements are also fairly effective, with at least one instance aboard an island-bound ferry reaching a fever pitch of disturbing heights. And though many of these elements work within the context of the story, certain embellishments are more distracting than effective. The properties of the video that spark the desperate investigation of its origins, as well as the video itself, seem slightly more forced, even if the plot developments that they ultimately lead to are indeed intriguing. A hypnotic melding of obscure nightmarish imagery in the Japanese theatrical release, the video as presented in the American remake, as one character so eloquently states, is "very student film." This isn't to say that it isn't effective in terms of uncomfortable imagery, but rather that it lacks the subtleties that made the original so obscurely menacing. This can also be said of the character of Samara. Where the original wisely refrained from giving the audience a good look at this terrifying figure of mysterious origins, we simply see too much of her here. Her seemingly unearthly and unnatural movements, so effectively realized by utilizing an actress versed in Kabuki theater in the original, is here less-engagingly realized with special effects and trick photography. Also integrating elements from the sequel as well as other contemporary Japanese chillers, The Ring pays homage to its origins while maintaining a decidedly American slant. A highly stylized visual stunner, Verbinski's sparse frame recalls the original while cinematographer Bojan Bazelli's photography helps the film stand on its own as a lusciously foreboding rain-soaked nightmare.
by Jason Buchanan review