The Ring
directed by Gore Verbinski
(Universal, 2002)

As much as I love the horror genre, I will admit that only rarely has such a film aspired -- let alone attained -- the artistic plateau upon which The Ring proudly sits. The movie is an artistic masterpiece, a film whose amazing textures and tones invite multiple viewings and a never-ending search for further insight into its darkly beautiful truth.

I find myself examining everything my eyes run across, trying to analyze the pattern of raindrops on a car windshield, watching in curious awe the rushed setting of the sun behind a magnificent tree, wondering if door number 601 means something, etc. While the original state of advanced creepiness and awe-struck surprise fades to some degree after the first viewing, The Ring somehow manages to completely captivate me every time I watch it. The plot is, naturally, a little on the weird side, but it certainly seems straightforward enough for me to wonder why some viewers claim they did not understand the movie. I don't think anyone can truly pick out and digest all of the subtle implications of the film on the first viewing, but there's really nothing incomprehensible about The Ring at all.

I won't even try to describe the plot; any iota of preconceived notions or revealed plot points robs the potential viewer of the complete experience this movie takes pride in delivering. One issue of concern with a lot of horror movies is, of course, the ending, and the anticipation one feels sitting down to watch The Ring for the first time can very well preprogram the brain to expect a let-down of some type. I can assure you that the final plot twists and ultimate ending will delight you and renew your faith in truly original movies of this genre. I should add the fact that the ending does much to counterbalance the riveting early moments of the film.

In my opinion, the opening scene here is the creepiest, most powerful beginning to a horror movie I have ever seen, and I assure you that this is a very bold statement on my part.

The cast, I must say, is wonderful. Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson help sell the mysterious truth about "the tape" to any viewers reluctant to suspend their disbelief, but it is the children who make this movie a truly creepy good time. David Dorfman makes young Aidan a dark and complex little boy who, one might think just by watching him, could very well be Antichrist material. The mysterious child Samara is the pivotal character in this film, the conduit for all of the horror and psychological manifestations of dread and fear, and Daveigh Chase is uncannily remarkable in the role.

While the movie is a horror masterpiece that sells itself, I am a little disappointed at the paucity of extras included with the DVD. With so many artistic nuances complementing a wildly unpredictable plot, I would dearly love to have the director or an actor or two offer their thoughts on the process in the form of a commentary. The "never-before-seen short film" of roughly 15 minutes is good, but I can't say it really delivered many new revelations about The Ring. There was one additional piece of information I picked up that works on a psychological level, but overall it is certainly not a Rosetta stone with which to translate the secrets of the film. Consisting of several deleted scenes mixed within a cauldron of images from the film itself, it was little more than interesting to me. It is nice to have a trailer for the original Japanese film Ringu thrown in, but this trailer is the equivalent of a TV commercial and not an extended theatrical trailer.

In the end, of course, the extras are just extras; it is the motion picture itself that matters, and The Ring not only delivers the goods, it knocks down your door, grabs you by the throat and shoves them right down your gullet.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 4 June 2005

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