Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The Ring

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, language and some drug references

Reviewed by: Douglas M. Downs
STAFF WRITER

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
15 to Adult
Genre:
Sci-Fi Mystery Suspense Supernatural Horror Remake
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2002
USA Release:
October 18, 2002
Copyright, DreamWorks Distribution click photos to ENLARGE Scene from “The Ring” Martin Henderson in “The Ring”
Relevant Issues
Naomi Watts in “The Ring”

ghosts in the Bible

death

final judgment

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Shannon Cochran | Directed by: Gore Verbinski | Produced by: Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, J.C. Spink | Written by: Ehren Kruger, Scott Frank | Distributor: Dreamworks

Sequel: “The Ring Two

We all smile sometimes at the list of gullible stories that we know as Urban Legends. How many do you get in your email inbox each day? The most popular were the items or reptiles that were flushed down the toilet and later transformed in the sewers. Teens love discussing haunted houses and mysterious cars that stalk unsuspecting victims. “The Ring” introduces us to another Urban Legend. This time the fictitious tale is about a videotape.

Yup, that’s right… if you watch this video—you receive a phone call, then 7 days later you die. There are some in society that feel that entertainment is contributing to the moral death of our culture. This film takes simple everyday objects like a videotape, a ringing telephone, a fly, a ladder and a TV set and turns them into a cinematic delivery system for fear.

“The Ring” is an extremely intelligent thriller. Now I admit that I do like scary films, but I refuse to participate in most of the trash that tries to shock you with a style of horror that is disgusting (can we say “FEARDOTCOM”?!). Instead of resorting to such tactics, this movie uses moments, lighting, suspense, music, and tone to toy with your imagination and mood.

Based on the popular 1998 Japanese horror film “Ringu”, Director Gore Verbinski (“Mouse Hunt”) brings us an intriguing yarn. This is one of those visual experiences that, like “Sixth Sense” or a classic Hitchcock film, can navigate its way under your skin. I like the premise of the story unfolding as a well-constructed mystery. You are spoonfed just the right amount of tempting plot morsels as you are drawn deeper into the story (while not being forced into an unrelenting onslaught of violence, sex and profanity). Yes, there is a strong theme of fatality based on unfortunate circumstances. There are also some traditional forms of judgment common in most films of this genre. This primarily relates to the order by which the victims die or why they are chosen. (You know, the teen that has pre-marital sex is always the first to die.)

Our story begins during a teen girl sleepover. Katie (Amber Tamblyn) and Becca (Rachael Bella) are engaged in typical girl-talk. The conversation moves into a rumor about a mysterious video that sets into motion a chain of events. The moment you finish watching it, you are informed that you will die in seven days. “Oh my goodness!” Katie has seen the tape and guess what?… today is the 7th day!

I won’t spoil it for you, but her death leads an aunt, Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) to become involved. Rachel is an investigative news reporter and her sister (Lindsay Frost) asks if she can look into the death. Rachel’s research leads her to the tape and she views it for herself. It isn’t long before she realizes that she is now under the curse of this tape. We now watch as she lives through the next seven days and desperately tries to make sense of the seemingly unrelated images on the video.

The atmospheric cinematography by Bojan Bazelli is brilliant, and the musical score by Hans Zimmer is superb. The talent in this film really adds to the threatening development of each section. The acting is also quite good. I would easily compare it again to “Sixth Sense”. Martin Henderson, who plays Josh, turns in an excellent performance as he assists Rachel in her quest. Both are convinced that if they can solve the mystery behind the tape, then they will live. ’Nuff said—if I tell you much more, it will spoil those who would like to see the film.

Here’s one fair warning though: the “PG-13” rating should be observed and even then I would not suggest “The Ring” for anyone under 15. The film does have a strong theme of ghosts and their implied power beyond the grave. Just like Lou Costello, “I don’t believe in ghost, I don’t believe in ghost.”

There are some disturbing images that are not for the faint of heart, but nothing that will absolutely gross you out. The special effects are well placed and in the classic tradition of true horror and suspense, the most frightening elements are not what you see, but what you can only imagine. This is a very smart film with no sex and very little language. If you like scary films, and it has been awhile since you saw a good one, I do recommend “The Ring”.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This movie is creepy on so many levels. The music delivers quiet an mysterious presence. Although, what makes this movie so uncomfortable (in a good scary movie way) is it’s blue/green-ish tint. It’s shot not with light being a factor, but rather a very low, eerie, dreary color that doesn’t emit a lot of brightness. It’s hard to explain, if you see the movie, you’ll know what I mean.

Morally, “The Ring” does not touch on religion or the occult. It plays with the idea of a dark and disturbing story line that reveals major twists as it runs. If you are very dedicated to the lord and take the messages sent in movies/tv/books and other various types of media seriously… as I do, you should still not have any problem with this film.

There is no constant harsh language although at times cuss words are uttered, there is no incredible amounts of blood and violence but there are some very scary and very graphic and disturbing images that have no need for such gore.

In conclusion. I’d recommend this film if you want a night of a scary adrenaline rush without the language, nudity, and violence. Just brace yourself for a lot of jump out of your seat moments.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Charlie, age 24 (USA)
Positive—I went to see this with my 13 year old this weekend. From all I had read here and at sites like ScreenIt and others, it sounded like a good scary film without a lot of objectionable material (gore, sex, language). Well, the reviewers were right on the money! It was a great thrill ride! Just enough to scare you while you watch, but not “real” enough to keep you scared after the show.

To be honest, the things that seem so terrifying as you watch the movie merely make you laugh when you think about them a few hours later. At least this was my reaction, and my son said much the same. One word of caution: unlike The 6th Sense, to which this movie is often compared, The Ring does NOT have a positive, “happy ending.”
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Tim Blaisdell, age 39
Positive—Wooooooooooo hoo. That was one great movie. How funny would it be to see 3 teenage girls sitting two rows from the front and screaming… Well, that’s what you would’ve seen if you were with us. Ha ha. Anyway, I didn’t find it offensive in any way. I’ve seen horror films before and this is one of the cleanest yet. I would recommend it to anyone.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Andrea, age 18
Positive—Up front, this film is NOT for the faint at heart or people (particularly Christian people) who are keenly adverse to occultic themes. Also, this film isn’t merely a half-heartedly scary movie with an underlying sense of humor woven throughout. It’s quite actually a deadly serious film—a difficult tone for any horror film to try and undertake nowadays because usually if a horror film takes itself too seriously it winds up being an eye-rolling embarrassment full of unintended laughs. But I have not been this scared by a film since I saw “The Exorcist” over twenty years ago.
When I got home from the theatre I found myself turning on all the lights in the house. I truly admire a film which is able to achieve the ever-increasingly-more-difficult task of sinking a really deep scare into a mature and rational adult. This film is slow and subtle, and it creeps under your skin inches at a time over the course of two hours, terrifying you right down to the bone. The filmmakers of “The Ring” have rediscovered the long-lost secret for how to be “atmospheric.”

My own opinion on what separates a “good” scary film from a “great” scary film is measured solely by the movie’s ability to do its primary job of just plain scaring, and this film did exactly that for me! I am also delighted to say that this film understands the correct yet subtle distinction between “terror” and “horror”: terror is more primal, while horror requires some thought. And this film went after the more sophisticated and trickier goal of “horror” according to the “old school” of scary film making: it employed several of what may be the most mundane, the most ordinary, and the least interesting sorts of objects from our everyday modern environment (a videotape cartridge, a digital camera, a telephone) and extrapolated the most frightening scenarios of “What if?” from them.


Hitchcock was the masterful pioneer of forgoing the employment of objects from the realm of “the romantic” and “the exotic,” and instead employed things generally regarded as “the mundane” and “the uninteresting” for his conveyances of horror (a shower curtain, a sea gull, a set of tire tracks in the snow). Via “the mundane” he was able to hit us right where we lived via those universally familiar objects which reek of exceptional degrees of ordinariness and that we take for granted as being inherently benign.

This finely-nuanced philosophy of his (I name it “horror via the ordinary”) has only just recently been rediscovered by Shyamalan with “Signs” (a baby monitor, a baseball bat, a glass of water) and the encouraging trend of this Hitchcockian revival is evidently continuing with “The Ring.” Hopefully, the current cinematically degrading, twenty-year gore fest which was sadly triggered by that low-budget and yet career-making bit of brilliance from movie history called “Halloween” back in 1978 is now going to take a back seat to this old-school revival on how to make an adult scary movie with class.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Eileen A. Sheehan, age 36
Positive—You know, there are two types of thrillers. There are those that have an explanation just to have an explanation, just to tie up loose ends; and then, there are those which may or may not have an explanation, and if they do, it doesn’t cover ALL the bases. Also, in the latter, the explanation has a meaning. It goes beyond the story and takes hold of the viewers. That is what “Signs” did, and that’s what “The Ring” does. And it does it marvelously. This is one of the scariest, creepiest, and best movies of the year. Naomi Watts is great, as she was in last year’s overrated “Mulholland Drive,” but here, it feels like we know her better. All of the acting is good in the movie, and director Gore Verbinski shows off a lot of visual style that really affects the audience. You know, this movie could have been rated R, I imagine it almost was, but I’m glad it’s not. The R rating usually scares people away (Christians, at least) and also seems to imply a lot of gore, which is NOT what “The Ring” is about. It is chilling, haunting. And I mean those words in the most fun way possible. I really, really liked this movie. As for the point? Well, to say it would ruin the movie. But, keep in mind, there IS a point. Go see this movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Jason Eaken, age 19
Positive—I regret that I watched this movie alone. One of the scariest I’ve ever seen, but is still an intelligent film. It’s good to know there are still writers and directors who don’t have to spoon-feed us the film. “The Ring” is very well made and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good thrill… just don’t watch it alone. I’ll never look at an empty TV channel again.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Christopher, age 20
Positive—I saw this movie before it came out. I was in a theater with only one other person and so that might affect the view I have of it …maybe. I thought the film was well made, and the mood certainly was creepy enough for me to not want to look sometimes. But the problem I had with the film was the motivation of the “tape”, or villain, what have you. The film ended and I felt as though there should have been more to the killings than what was attributed. That really was my only objection, other than it was not too uplifting of a film, but life is not always uplifting either. I must say this film worked its magic for being a scary film, I lowered myself in my seat a few times. And I must add that my favorite piece of the film is the actual tape the victims see. I would recommend it to those who want a scare, but not to those seeking an uplifting story with a unique solution at the end.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Joel McGitny, age 20
Positive—My wife and I went to see The Ring last night and we were thoroughly impressed. The Ring is a very well made (and well thought out) “horror” movie that leaves off all the gore, nudity and a lot of bad language. There were a couple of times when the Lord’s name was taken in vain, and a couple of s*** words, but that was pretty much it. Kinda unbelievable for a PG-13 movie in this day and age. The gore was VERY minimal with just a quick camera shot here and there. I agree with the author’s input above that no one under 15 or so should it though. I can imagine younger children having nightmares… I would have when I was a kid.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Eric Freeman, age 33
Positive—While I must admit that it is somewhat difficult to judge this movie for its Christian content, I am compelled to recommend it as a superb piece of filmmaking. I suppose that the film does convey a foreboding sense of a very real evil. Often in film mankind is posed as the progenitors of evil. This is necessary because to admit something greater would be to lend credence to the concept of a supernatural existence. Honestly, this is neither here nor there. It is just something to consider.

“The Ring” plays upon the primal and subconscious fears in the human mind. The images on the tape have a very Lynchian feel. I have always felt that David Lynch could create the most terrifying film ever made. He never has, though. He is eternally determined to create such extremely postmodern films, that we only find snippets that truly connect. He has the innate ability, however, to reach past our direct rational mind and tap into the subconscious. His sounds and images are at once innocuous and also terrifying.

They unsettle us but we don’t know why. Gore Verbinski has managed to take the vocabulary of someone like Lynch, and infuse it with a discernable plot. The results are electrifying.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Kent Smith, age 27
Neutral
Neutral—“The Ring” is a very close call. It scared and creeped me out on several occasions. The scene where a horse on a boat goes mad and actually throws itself into the ocean is done so realistically it terrified the daylights out of me. The mystery kept me interested and I liked how all the clues fit together.

Unfortunately, I can’t quite recommend the ring (at least not at the price of a movie ticket, perhaps video) because I couldn’t care about the characters very much. The acting is all right but the characters aren’t developed enough for us to care about the plight so that the writing on the screen ticking down the days to final one doesn’t elicit the suspense that it should. The dialogue is often lifeless and although The Ring has its share of excellent scary moments the film overall I was just barely on the edge of my seat.

**Warning: Potential Spoilers** Most of the stuff is explained but other stuff is confusing such as why the ghost is doing such things? Why does she say she’s sorry for them on video and continue to do them? What is the significance of the fact that she “never sleeps”? Why was Watts spared (actually I found out the answer by reading a synopsis of the film after I’d seen it but the film portrays it in such a confusing way that I’m probably not the only one who didn’t get it).

The scene where Watts visits her niece’s friend in the mental hospital is gratuitous because all we get is stuff explained to us that we already knew. The filmmakers should have either not put the scene in or at least had it add to the plot not just mark time. Also why is not revealed until late that the man who helps Watts with her investigation is in fact her child’s father since there is no real reason to keep it secret and also the fact that its no big revelation in my opinion at least.

If you want a scary movie The Ring should give you your money’s worth (as a video rental) however I felt the film would have benefited a great deal if I could feel more than “Gee tough break” towards characters who might be dead in seven days. The Ring contains profanity, violence, and occultic elements. Mixed review but thumbs down overall.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Andrew, age 26
Neutral—“The Ring” was a perfect example of what Hollywood should be doing in the genre of scary movies. The movie is highly intelligent, well-acted and does not resort to cheap gore and blood bath style action. Why does it NOT resort to these usual “solutions”? Because a well scripted story with subtle imagery can support itself. The imagery presented with the wonderful use of lighting made this movie chilling and quite eerie. “The Ring’s” appeal is understatement at its best. I would highly recommend it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Laura Calvaruso
Negative
Negative—I always check Christian reviews before my wife and I go to see a movie. Because we didn’t see that this movie was offensive, and none of the reviews listed language as a problem, we went to see it. I regret it now. This film has absolutely no redeeming quality to it, and if you take a child (anyone under 18) to it, you are making a poor decision that may result in serious problems later. The most prevalent curse in the movie is “Jesus” or “Christ” (at least 6 times), and there are enough other offensive and disturbing elements to make the movie even worse. Do yourself a favor, horror fans, and keep looking. This film scares me, but not in the way you think. It scares me by showing me the way our society is headed and what we think is normal. Avoid this movie like the plague.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Joshua Kay, age 26
Negative—I wouldn’t take any young children to this. It is creepy. There is no uplifting elements that were left with me after the movie. I was confused and a little disappointed. The heroine tries hard to save herself and son, but at a great cost. I am not sure if her actions in the end were admirable or not. I just don’t think there was much to be gleaned from this spiritually. I guess you could discuss what happens to people when they die. You could also discuss God’s justice and how it is adequate to resolve unpunished wrongs. I like scary movies but this one was more disturbing than scary and left too many things unresolved. I needed closure and I believe others, especially the young, will want closure as well. Our 14 year old son slept on our floor after we saw the movie. I regret I took him.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Mark L. Gilliam, age 40
Comments from young people
Positive—Oh, I loved this movie! I went and bought it, and I don’t normally buy movies. I regret not having seen it in the theater. It was such a satisfying story (something so many scary movies lack.) Very effective …I lay in bed thinking about the ending (which was awesome, by the way) one night and had to turn the light on! As far as kids, I would just follow the PG-13 rating; I say appropriate for 13 and up (though some kids that young may not be able to take it.) Anyway, this was a superb, intelligent thriller. As far as unanswered questions, it’s a satisfying enough movie that they don’t matter. And there isn’t an onslaught of sex, language, or violence, which is of course refreshing.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Jenna, age 17
Negative—I went to The Ring thinking it was going to be the scariest thing ever …I was wrong. I actually laughed at a lot of the parts that were supposed to be the scariest. I guess having half the theater screaming didn’t help too much (hee hee). This is the kind of movie you just have to have fun with. Like one reviewer said earlier… it gives you just enough thrill while you’re watching it, and doesn’t leave you scared afterward. However, I thought the whole plot of the movie was totally stupid. Certain parts could tie into some others, but when the movie ended, I was disappointed that as a whole, the movie didn’t fit together very well at all. It just left you with a bunch of unanswered questions. I wouldn’t particularly recommend this movie to anyone, and I don’t plan on watching it again.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Sarah, age 16
Negative—I went to see this movie a couple of nights ago with a bunch of my friends. I reviewed it and decided to go. It was horrible. Me and all my friends were soo scared. It was mostly disturbing and gross. I would hate to see anyone recommending this movie. It has no christian aspect at all, I should have gotten up and left and regret that I didn’t.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive]
—Rebecca, age 16
Positive—I thought that this was a phenomenal movie. I would definitely pay to go see it again if not twice. Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson did a very good job. Naomi especially did great with the emotions and the facial expressions. She always let you know when something was wrong. **Warning: Potential Spoiler** The thing that makes this movie stand out from the others is that when you thought the movie was over it really wasn’t. When it got to what I thought to be the ending I was a little bummed. They had done such a good job on the rest of the movie I hated to see them end it like that. Fortunately they didn’t let me down. This movie has to be the best scary movie I have ever seen. I don’t really get into all the sex and language, so this movie really was perfect for me. I gave the right amount of suspense that I needed to keep me interested. You will want to go see this with someone if you scare easily. Again this movie was great and I would definitely pay to see it again.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Sara Francis, age 16
Positive—As far as scary, this movie is up there with “the Silence of the Lambs.” It is intelligent, yet extremely scary and disturbing at the same time. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good horror flick. And whatever you do, DO NOT bring little children to this movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Andrew, age 14