Top critical review
Viscerally creepy, but not a whole lot more than that
on July 17, 2004
Gore Verbinski's THE RING is the classic example of a film that is all style and very little, if any, substance. Verbinski certainly knows how to make a creepy horror film: this film is laced with atmosphere and dread and gray skies. Technically, it is quite impressive. It's too bad that all the skillful visuals are put in the service of a really dumb plot---or, at least, that's the way it turns out. Perhaps the idea of a videotape killing people could make a good horror film---but when the screenplay by Ehren Kruger starts trying to explain how the videotape was made and then how to dilute the videotape's power, this movie just became plain stupid for me. How could anyone be duped into blindly accepting this kind of silliness? I suppose, though, that that is a very subjective reaction and that some people might find its visuals and atmosphere effective enough to accept the film without a second thought. Still, I remember that John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN never really provided an explanation for Michael Myers' motives (except, of course, that "he's crazy"), and I think that perhaps horror movies shouldn't be so burdened with having to explain the horror in them---it should merely be felt, since film is such a visual medium anyway (leave explanations to writers, hehe). In the case of THE RING, we feel the horror, but we also feel a plot that strains to explain itself, and ends up merely being laughable instead (especially that final twist, which I had difficulty swallowing). If Kruger hadn't tried so hard, maybe this would have turned out to be a highly effective horror film instead one that made me wonder what the heck the horse in the middle of the film had to do with anything. I think THE RING is viscerally creepy enough that it earns its three stars here, but all of Verbinski's style cannot hide the fact that, plotwise, this film is a mess, and I certainly don't plan on seeing this film's intended sequel whenever it comes out.