Quick-Thoughts: Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (2002)

As a usual Gore Verbinski apologist, this hurt to not like. It’s shot and edited well, maybe not as well as the original, but well regardless — though that still kind of defeats the validity of this existing in the first place. I appreciate how it’s a slim less expositional too, but the dialogue in it is riddled with Hollywood-ized quirk that disengages us from a believable reality, so this new term of a shortcoming pretty much just counterbalances that merit. If anything, what this remake will sometimes exposition out instead is its themes, which is not really shocking… considering… you know… America.

Not to entirely downplay this remake, however, Verbinski does admittedly broaden some nice cinematic technique unfamiliar to the original: the overall grander scale, sped-up dolly-shot montage kills, foreshadowing from the fly, new static look/logic of Sadako/Samara which is absolutely gnarly, etc. But then, it’ll either overplay the intense progression of scenes from the original like when the lead character’s kid watches the tape or re-lore-ify awkward new ones like with the horse death sequence that just feels low-key like Verbinski’s audition tape to showcase his potential for putting together an action sequence — it even takes place on a ship… Then there’s that well-fall scare which genuinely made me laugh, and for something that otherwise copies a handful from its maker, it doesn’t even replicate at least a significant amount of the best moments from it like something as rousing as its incredibly twisted closing scene! And, AND, who decided to assuage the warped-face photo reveal, which was one of the best scares in the original? Yet, what’s really worst of all about this remake is that the ticking time bomb element which made the original so tensely paced is almost completely butchered in this remake by plummeting through all five of the seven days before we even make it to the halfway mark just so it can get to the answers quicker at the sacrifice of developing a carefully lived-in atmosphere. 

Here’s a juxtaposition: the opening scene of The Ring is the scariest part of the movie, and the climax scene of Ringu (1998) is the scariest part of that movie. Therefore, which one probably has the creepiest evolution in its narrative? The biggest “conundrum” with Verbinski’s remake is how unwarranted its existence is in the first place besides that it gives into Americans not wanting to cross the barrier of subtitles. In view of how neck and neck their plots are, there really is scant reason for me to have experienced this remake when I could’ve just watched the superior ‘98 version again. It seems a little ironic that a director, who would soon be considered a modern master of high-budget scale, sourced a foreign horror movie, considered to be a masterclass of low-budget confinement, to parade to Hollywood the apparent strength in his blockbuster capabilities. Eh, worth it! Pirates for life! 

Also, in terms of the infamous cursed video on its own this time around, I can imagine it being scary if they used like half (maybe even less) of its collaged imagery instead of hyper-cutting the ones that worked in between some try-hard grotesque ones. The distant, alienated, and confusing atmosphere was what sold the original tape, not the bed-bugs, body dismemberments, or supernatural physics for which we’re all so familiar with in the horror genre. 

Verdict: C-

“The Ring” is now available to stream on Netflix and Paramount+.

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