The Ring (2002)
Beginning amid the bedroom girl talk of two suburban high school friends, The Ring unfolds one of the genres' most well executed, utterly frightening pre-credit vignettes, as the conversation shifts from guys to a mysterious tape. The urban legend has it that after watching this tape, the viewers' phone will ring and a woman's voice will say "Seven Days." A week later the viewer will die. Utter terror eclipses the face of the second girl. She has watched the tape, and it has now been seven days.
Scaring pre-pubescent adolescents is easy. Toss a hockey mask on a guy and put him in the woods and that usually does the trick. I even thought Silver Bullet was scary when I was 9 years old. But movies that manage to frighten adults, grown people who should know better than to believe in bogeymen, are few and far between.
It takes a terrifyingly original premise that is somehow grounded in reality to make most adult want to peak into their rear view mirror driving home from the theater. The Ring is such a movie, using an everyday item like a television to make its far-fetched central idea resonate with a tinge of reality. Simply put, The Ring is the first horror movie in years that is actually scary. And if you happen to be watching this at home on video and your phone rings, forget about it.
The Ring's principal narrative involves a Seattle reporter (Naomi Watts) investigating the death of the pre-title teen, who is her niece. Watts tracks down the bizarre tape to a secluded cabin, where, being your typically skeptical reporter, she watches it. The phone rings, a voice says "seven days," and a race against time for her life and the life of her son (who also ends up seeing the creepy video) ensues.
Part gothic mystery, part supernatural thriller and part slasher mayhem, The Ring is an example of that truly great idea that comes along ever so rarely. Based on the 1998 Japanese film Ringu, (which has spawned three sequels thus far), The Ring's only fault is that it lets down its frightening premise with a script that simply can't match it in originality.
To reveal anything but the bare bones of the plot would be to betray much of The Ring's effectiveness. But it is safe to say that after a spine chilling first hour, the film has two endings too many and a few plot twists that call into question the very logic of the whole movie.
Be that as it may, if you're a horror fan who yearns the adrenaline rush of fear, who likes to check the rear view mirror when driving home to make sure there's no one waiting for you, The Ring will provide that rush.