"The Ring" ... scary and chilling.
CONSIDERING THAT the preoccupation with the mystical and the occult is pretty much part of oriental psyche, this is one venture that probably made immense sense in its original Japanese version, ``Ringu." Bizarre things and bogeys out of the nether world are horrifically accepted and no matter how implausible it may seem to the rational mind, there is healthy respect for ghosts and such like. But here its not just ghosts. It's something to do with a nightmarish videotape, where some grainy disturbing images cause the person who watches it, to die in exactly seven days. Ordinary objects like a fly, a ladder, a pitcher of water, mirrors, lighthouse and a ring of light, take on sinister dimensions and what horrors the film shows are so fleeting that the mind does not have time to deconstruct and dismiss them as mere objects - images and sounds are used so effectively that they manipulate the audience into a state of fright.
The story goes that there is this videotape. Two girls on a stormy, rainy night are trying to pass time watching the TV- till one of them says that there is this legend doing the rounds that whoever watches a particular video they get a call saying seven days - and death follows after those seven days. One of them watches it and the phone rings. Enter a reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), a single mom, whose niece dies a gruesome death. And no one can figure out why. Three other youngsters die similarly. She is forced to investigate this for her paper and as she goes along trying to figure things out, obviously she has another deadline to beat. Because she has watched the tape, too. She has only seven days to unravel the mystery. She enlists the help of her ex-husband Noah (Martin Henderson) to save herself and her son Aiden, who also watches the tape. The son (David Dorfman), incidentally, is some kind of a telepathic, mournful child, who keeps seeing things and images, which he captures as drawings (a la ``Sixth Sense") especially after his cousin's death. And there is no explanation why he has been chosen for this task. The mystery is linked to a horsewoman who lived in a remote farm and died. Of what - that is not clear. She had a daughter who also died - presumably thrown into a well. Who does this dastardly deed? You'll have to see the film to discover that!
Somehow Rachel discovers the taciturn husband of this woman (Brian Cox) - never mind if the director does not explain how she was almost part of the 18th Century, but the husband is still alive and not that old, really! Anyway he had to be there to make your skin crawl with the way he eventually dies. What follows then is actually pretty creepy. It forces you to remain glued to your seat, lest one of those ghastly images out of the videotape springs out of nowhere and causes your heart to stop. Some of the scenes are truly scary and have been shot with an austerity that gives the film its chilling quality. The climax, the scene where Rachel's ex-husband is hunted down by the image coming out of the TV, the terrified horse on a jumping off the ferry, are all impressive for their terrifying quality. Gore Verbinski, the director makes you believe that everyone watches TV sitting almost face to face with it. That apart, his idea is to recreate those moments that cause several goose bumps - which he does most successfully. And even as you tell yourself that all this just does not happen, you do get this odd feeling that since you have also watched the video tape, would something happen in seven days?
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