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ISSUE 116 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/8/2002

Critic's Corner: The Ring

By Molly Bayrd
Executive Editor

Friday, November 8, 2002

If you are reading this article, you have only seven days left to live. Sounds absurd, right? Nevertheless, the recently released horror movie The Ring boasts a similarly unbelievable tag line  anyone who watches a certain film will die within a week of viewing it. Previews for the film are geared toward a decidedly teenage, urban-legend loving audience, but do not be misled. The film is wholly impressive and utterly chilling, despite its seemingly ludicrous plot line. The Ring departs from the framework of a typical slasher flick and ultimately presents a psychologically disturbing examination of the ways in which simple imagery can truly terrify. The plot centers around a young investigative reporter (played convincingly by Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidmans best friend and look-alike) who, after the unexplained death of her niece, watches the video herself. Consequently, the reporter has seven days to unravel the mystery that surrounds the unlabeled and hauntingly Dada-esque video. Yes, viewers get to see what is on the tape, and though the film-within-a-film is macabre, it is also sufficiently intriguing. It only goes to show that curiosity really can kill the cat (or, as The Ring illustrates, the horse). The movies color palette is comprised solely of foggy greens and grays, and the film itself is saturated with sterile, somber visuals. The spooky locales featured on Watts journey seem as though they were plucked directly from a nightmare, including an old barn, a mental hospital, and the bottom of a dark well. Note: I nearly had a heart-attack during the scene in the well. If you are faint of heart, cover your eyes here. Even the scenes in The Ring that are not intended to be jarring are unnaturally frightening. Transitions from scene to scene are abrupt and unexpected, leaving the viewer constantly wringing their palms in anticipation of the next scary happening. The focus is muddy at times, and many of the plot lines are underdeveloped and unresolved; nonetheless, The Ring is one of the scariest movies to hit the big screen since The Exorcist. Coincidentally, the evil little girl who appears in The Ring is likely the scariest little devil to appear on screen since Linda Blairs pea-soup-spewing debut as The Exorcists Regan MacNiel in 1973. If you have never seen The Exorcist, think in terms of the freaky twins from 1988s The Great Outdoors. Regardless of your frame of reference, The Ring proves that children on videotape are just downright scary.

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