Horror movies usually bring a question lurking around: is it a horror movie, or is it plain horrifying? In an annual year, hundreds of horror movies make way to the big screen worldwide from various film industries. Some are really gripping—instilling spooky vibrations in the psyche of the viewer. Some simply aren’t worth a hack. When I watch a horror movie, I like the stories behind the supernatural. The interweaving of the supernatural with the very natural makes the movie intriguing. As an intriguing genus in the ecology of films, horrors are probably the closest a viewer could find themselves in experiencing the thrills of unpredictability, the charms of tragedy, and the proximity to the supernatural. With all of this, the balance is the key. Collages of sickening scenes put together to terrify viewers, with the hopes of at least, wouldn’t be my definition of a proper horror movie, but to each their own—so they say.
The Ring, starring Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Daveigh Chase, and Brian Cox, is such a psychosomatic horror movie—a horrifying thriller consisting of a plethora of really scary scenes, engaging build-up, neat visuals, and a dramatic plot twist at the end leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. It did on me! Based on the novel Ringu by Kozi Suzuki, The Ring is a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror movie by the same name (Ringu). Ehren Kruger adapts the novel for the screen, with Gore Verbinski of Jack Sparrow and Rango fame directing this effective horror movie.
The Rings kicks off with Katie (Amber Tamblyn) romancing with the supernatural, albeit not literally, starting off with a turbulent hook that would surely capture the interest of viewers. Katie is the cousin of the erratic, organized, and a boy with psychic tendencies, Aidan Keller (David Dorfman), who also happens to be the son of our central character, Rachael Keller portrayed by the one and only, Naomi Watts. We learn that a strange video tape containing bizarre and creepy montages is the reason behind the death of four teenage students. Subsequently, Aidan’s supernatural senses aide Mama Rachael in initiating a series of investigative journalism masterworks—eventually taking her to the heart of the Ring, the center of all evil, and in all likelihood—the place where it all begin—the headquarter of Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase).
The plot is simple, and moves forward and backwards like the peeling of a mystery that takes us here and there. Although not mysteriously presented, interpreting the story depends on the viewer individually to decipher and find out. The story is, by far, a case of swindling into the mysteries of a video cassette, with many questions leading to many answers, as Rachael undergoes the operative procedure to the best of her investigative nature. It is the spontaneity of Naomi Watts—portraying the confused, occupied single-mother to the mystical Aidan whose looks reveal a philosopher in the making—that enhances this journey and unfastens the style from your regular horror movie. What we get here is not just a plain representation of the evilness of mind’s creations, but the inherent psychosomatic reactions to the revelations of a world beyond. The crucial scary scenes—when they do arrive—freak you out in its own methodical manner leaving you numb at times because it’s just so silently lethal. When the power of Samara rises to unravel the spirits of the video lovers, particularly in one instance, the image remains as a psychological scar because the entire movie builds from your inside rather than relying on external vogue and madness.
The progression of scenes, with one leading to the other gives viewers an engaging style of dethroning previous assumptions and replacing them with dark and ghastly realities surrounding the episodes behind the mystery. In the first scene of the movie with Aidan, his Mom’s arrival, and the Teacher’s observation, her advice—the story presents two dynamic, paradoxical characters: a child beyond his years and an adult lost in a confused vacuum. The advancement of these two streams of consciousness, in time meeting at a crossroad and collaborating with a third stream (Aiden’s father), going deeper into the mysterious deaths—brings about genuine emotions out of the viewer, whilst delivering an intelligent and well thought out movie, with a sound structure and a reticent build-up. The twists and turns into the climax raise the stakes from a starting point to the breaking point—squeezing every possible drip from the pulp, and culminating with an unprecedented ploy—straight from the email subculture ever popular during the time of the movie’s birth. You’ll get this after you watch it.
The Ring offers a disturbing and repressive affair intertwined with an eerie supernatural plot resulting in an ominous presentation of a story that keeps one cagey throughout the movie—looking around with investigative and anticipatory eyes themselves. It succeeds in large portions in transferring this chilling aspect to the eyes of viewers, while avoiding any direct and offensive demo of outright nastiness and cruelty. It’s a fine exhibition of a good, well-made horror movie. Borrowing from Japanese culture of the unnatural; lovers of supernatural themes would be flattered watching this subtle, yet eerie movie with natural performances, characterizations, and the obliquity of different layers used in establishing, prolonging, and at last, concluding a peculiar story. The biggest compliment I could give would be the movie does not feel like a movie—it is a tale of untied relationships and inglorious connections leading to some hoary revelations and creepy experiences. The Ring is scary, and an incredible ride of the thrills and spills.