The Ring
2002
It sounds like another urban legend: a videotape filled with nightmarish images, leading to a phone call foretelling the viewer's death. A reporter is skeptical until she watches the video -- and has to unravel the mystery before her own time is up.

Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

This is a love-it-or-hate-it movie. Though I happen to fall into the latter group, I can tell what the former group sees in it: Some well-executed jump scenes, impressive cinematography, and a complicated mystery to unravel. But in my opinion, jump scenes are a distraction, the images are not impressive enough to save the film, and the movie considers the mystery solved just when it should begin putting the final pieces into place. I have no problem with a cinematic ghost lacking a backstory, but when a movie goes to this much trouble creating an elaborate history for its restless spirit, it needs to go the final mile and put the pieces together. How exactly did Samara create the videotape? I understand what the two characters did to arrive at the final scene, but how exactly does the curse accommodate that? We can guess at the answers, but in a film that treats its plot so literally, we should not have to; another ninety seconds of exposition would settle everything.

I want to like this movie. D.P. Bojan Bazelli dreams up elaborate images and the visual effects team pull them off with aplomb, especially in the scene where reality and video occupy the same space, and Rick Baker provides some truly disturbing corpses. Hans Zimmer's soundtrack struck the right tone, as creepy and detached as Samara's video, which itself is sufficiently unsettling to justify the plot. But the plot details keep accumulating with no apparent purpose, such as the bathtub suicide, and the movie can't seem to decide which of three horrible people is its true villain. The ending is a particular let-down: It's not the twist ending; it's not the bad ending; it's the lack of real resolution at the end (were they already planning the sequel?) that causes such a strong dissatisfaction as to weaken the picture as a whole. There are plenty of people out there who can enjoy this movie, but they'll have to find it without my recommendation.

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