The Ring

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The first time I watched The Ring in 2002 was at a friend’s house, late at night. The scene of Katie (Amber Tamblyn) slumped in the closet with her face grotesquely contorted will always haunt me. I came home to my parents’, where I lived in the basement, to find the television in the living room on a static screen. I didn’t sleep that night.

Few films have terrified me like The Ring did. Upon watching it again, it’s amazing to me how that overwhelming sense of dread was accomplished. This film is a different caliber, forgoing the overwrought jump scares and other generic techniques of modern horror films. That’s not to say that there aren’t any jump scares, because there are certainly a few.

I have to mention the transition where the image of the ring flashes extremely briefly, causing the viewer to wonder if they’re starting to actually see these horrific hallucinations themselves. Brilliant.

The Ring also has something that many horror films these days lack – an engaging plot. The pace is fantastic and guides the viewer through the story of Samara and the deadly phenomenon of the video tape without ever feeling dull. I also really enjoyed the ending, as so many modern horror films would have concluded on a high note with the recovery of Samara’s body being the end to the curse. Instead, we get a bleak and ambiguous finale that separates The Ring from many other films in the genre.

Unfortunately the script and some of the performances really prevent The Ring from being a perfect film. Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson do their best with what they’re given, but some scenes are just bad. I understand that child actors should be given a pass, but that doesn’t change the fact that David Dorfman’s robotic performance and obvious attempt to be creepy was more distracting than anything.

Overall, The Ring stands the test of 17 years in my opinion and remains one of the few horror films of its kind. I wish more directors and writers would focus on atmosphere and story, and less on jump scares and quantity of blood.

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