Horror Hit ‘The Ring’ is our pick of Friday night movie club

Make a grand entrance in The ring
Photo: DreamWork Productions

Each week for the foreseeable future, Vulture will select a movie to watch as part of our Friday night movie club. This week’s selection – the first of a special month-long celebration of horror – comes from film critic Alison Willmore, who will begin her screening of Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of The ring Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. ET. Head for the vultures Twitter to see his live commentary and watch next week’s movie here.

The ring is a haunted house movie in which the house itself has become almost incidental. The one in the film is actually very boring to find, nestled on an island off the Washington coast, where it sits in the shade of a lighthouse whose beam bathes the windows in intermittent light. When journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) finally reaches him, following the trail of clues included in the mysterious VHS tape of which she is under the curse, she is barely let in by her lonely resident – Richard Morgan (Brian Cox) , who seems to spend his days doing chores on behalf of long-dead horses. She must return under the cover of darkness and sneak around to find evidence of the trauma that is inevitably central to these films.

There is always trauma, and in The ring, it involves a little girl with psychic powers and the adoptive parents who slowly broke under the pressure to manage those abilities and locked her in, in more ways than one. The house this family once shared, with its maze of dark interiors and sagging porch, is spooky. Even scarier is the barn at the back, with a hayloft turned into a juvenile dungeon. But Rachel didn’t have to travel this far to figure that out. The details were right there on the tape she was watching – the ladder was propped up against the wall, the lonely chair, the horses, the oval mirror on the wall, the man at the window, all transforming a fragment of a domestic nightmare. in a collage evocative of Buñuel-esque imagery. The trick of The ring don’t you need enter the haunted house to be threatened. Look at the tape, give it seven days, and haunting will come to you.

Hideo Nakata’s film in 1998, Ringu, is one of the highlights of the Japanese horror wave of the 90s and 2000s, and I’m one of the Philistines who prefers the American version anyway. Gore Verbinski’s 2002 film is arguably the only non-terrible entry in the dismal list of successful Hollywood remakes of J-horror, in part because it takes into account the localization and translation of the original film’s concept in context. of the dark American Northwest. But Verbinski’s version, while brighter and more expensive, also reduced the number of psychic characters and a whole story involving a character falsely maligned as a fraud. What’s left is a slimmer, cleaner film about a woman who thinks she’s following the rules of a horror movie type – the kind where a ghost wants closure and can be buried – only to find out, too. later, that it is part of a whole different story.

The ring is a complete failure as a technophobic film, although I don’t think it ever wanted to be one in the first place. VHS was already well advanced when The ring created in theaters. The landlines, the other key aspect of the curse process, weren’t quite there yet, but the idea of ​​their possible obsolescence was on the horizon, something that could be seen coming. There’s a scene in the middle of the movie in which Rachel, who lives with her son Aidan (David Dorfman), in a glass-walled skyscraper, watches the nearby tower from her patio and sees residents living room after living room with their TVs. But it’s not a shot that seems destined to be cranky – parenting is much more of the film’s central preoccupation, and its big bogus, than screen time or modern disconnection. On the contrary, as Rachel examines all these little apartment dioramas, with all their devices, what she examines are the vulnerabilities – the pathways.

What is the idea that still makes The ring frightening, long after the technology around which it revolves has passed from use. It’s the idea that there is actually no distance between this sleek condo tower and the isolated island ranch, or between the suburban house in which the movie begins and the ramshackle mountain cabin where the curse has its origins. Malevolent Ghost Samara (Daveigh Chase) can move seamlessly between them – can walk across the screen, bringing all of her rage and all the wrongs done to her with her. In a haunted house movie, there is always the possibility, however difficult, that you can escape, come out the door, and get away from anything terrible that is trapped in the key location. In The ring, bright, modern spaces become just as spooky as moody log cabins in the woods built above murderous sites. There is no way out of the haunted house when you bring the haunted house with you wherever you go.

The ring is available for rental on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Prime Video, and iTunes.

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About Evan A. Ellis

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