Just as RINGU was responsible for relaunching the proliferation of Japanese Horror films after its release in 1998, THE RING marked the first in a seemingly endless line of Americanized remakes brought overseas for mass consumption. Unlike many of the cheap cash-ins to follow, THE RING marks one of the few cases where the remake actually succeeds over the original film. Whereas RINGU was remarkable for being the complete antithesis of the conventional American Horror film, devoid of any overbearing score or excessive special FX, THE RING manages to perfectly blend the heart-racing tension and suspense of the original into the visual stylism that was commonplace in most other domestic releases. The results are phenomenal. Few films in recent Horror offer such jarring scares built on true suspense and anticipation. The film paints a world of surreal nightmares by contrasting sickly blue and green hues against the visual clues shot in bright reds and oranges on top of sets saturated in rain and fog. This made American audiences more willing to suspend disbelief and buy into the potential of a pasty-faced ghost harboring her revenge in a well. Hans Zimmer introduces a chilling score that takes the place of the empty ambient sounds of the original. Director Gore Verbinski brings a slick, stylized look to the film that feels distinctly more cinematic than its Asian counterpart, while dropping subtle homages to masters like Alfred Hitchcock throughout the picture. The cursed video, itself, has even been expanded upon with even more twisted imagery that is shocking to even the most hardened Horror fan. As for the plot, Verbinski has also left easier to follow clues throughout the tape that help guide the audience on the same journey as the characters in unlocking the truth. Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, and David Dorfman each deliver powerful performances that sell the suspense and mystery their characters find themselves in while also creating characters that are easier for Western audiences to relate to. RINGU was an intense supernatural thriller that made its mark in elitist Horror circuits; THE RING brought the ghostly terror home across the globe. Both films should be held in high regard within the genre, but THE RING proves to be the stronger of the two films in the end. I dare any newcomer to watch the film home alone in the dark. It is one of the few films that still frightens me on repeat viewings. A reporter must solve the mystery of a cursed videotape that kills its viewers before her seven days are up and the vengeful spirit comes to claim her soul.
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