Vern checks out the remake of THE RING!

Hey folks, Harry here… Vern wants Daddy (me) to start talking with Mommy (Moriarty), but he’s has got to stop telling me he has a headache and turning that oh so soft shoulder to chilly ice. Daddy needs some loving, and Mommy has been oh so cruel. Sadness, for sure. Anyways… Here’s another look at the Dreamworks RING remake from a bloke that is very very familiar with the originals! Here ya go…

Boys –

First of all, you gotta start talking to each other again. I don’t like it when mommy and daddy fight.

Second of all, I know you already have an assload of THE RING (american remake) reviews. But I think you need to use mine also, as a sign of gratitude toward me, the man who first told you about the japanese RINGU series and the impending remake back in July of 2000. So look at this as the highly anticipated sequel to the article “Vern Steals A Look At THE RING Part I and II!!” CLICK HERE

Of course, I got one thing wrong back then. I said it was New Line Cinema doing the remake, turned out to be Dreamworks. I think the rights might’ve been passed around though, I remember Moriarty told me at the time that he talked to somebody at New Line and they swore they were gonna re-release it and not remake it.

The RingAnyway I was real skeptical about the remake and I wrote an open letter to New Line that started like this:

“Now listen up you sons of bitches. I hope you have sat down and thought this through, and not just at a meeting with a bunch of marketing freakos who know alot less about what people want than they think they do. If you’re gonna remake this picture DO NOT FUCK IT UP. You BETTER know what you’re doing. These movies don’t work only because they are about this curse where you watch a video and the phone rings and a week later you die. They work because of the whole creepy tone — the way the actors talk, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, the quiet pauses and subtle but eerie cine-mato-graphicry. This is some SOLID fucking direction so you can’t just go hire some music video fuckwad and tell him to run with it. ”

Well I don’t want to take too much credit, but. Well, obviously, CLEARLY, the director Mr. Gore Verbinski read my letter. If not literally sat down and read it, then he must’ve soaked it up subconsciously, through his interactions with people who interacted with people who read the letter. (people at New Line, I guess.) Or better yet, maybe he’s just a good guy, and he knew that maybe he should, like, not fuck this one up. So what’s really so great about this movie, again, is the restraint and subtlety and what not. The tone. They didn’t american it up any more than changing the setting. The feel is all RINGU and no SCREAM or BLAIR WITCH or ATTACK OF CHUCKY or any other trendy american horror.

It makes you want to have faith in hollywood when you see something like this. Sure, it’s still the old american imperialism, buying up the movie and remaking it instead of releasing it. I don’t understand why they want to do that type of shit. But for that type of shit, THE RING (american remake) is pretty great, very faithful to the spirit of the original (which to me means the movie by Hideo Nakata, even though it was based on a book and came after a mini-series).

Like the original, this is a serious horror movie. Only one or two small jokes. No wackiness. No references to horror movies, not even Bride of Frankenstein. No modern cultural references or songs to date the movie. No rock music at all! They even gave the girls in the opening private school uniforms, like the japanese girls in the original. They didn’t turn them into “goths” or anything.

It’s a little more gruesome than the japanese version, but not in a way that ruins anything. It’s very quiet and atmospheric and the photographicry is beautiful. The cursed video itself is more show offy, with some real music video images. But there are also some creepy additions to it (a pile of maggots that becomes something else), and some of the old classics straight off the Nakata shelf.

They even avoided two of my biggest movie peeves. Somehow, Verbinski kept Hans Zimmer on a leash! Most american filmatists these days, hell, most filmatists period, they think they gotta hammer you in the balls with the music. Like in that movie WINDTALKERS, poor old John Woo let Jerry Goldsmith take a huge shit all over the war scenes.

Oh that’s right, talkbackers love grammar. what I mean to say is WINDTALKERS, that movie in which John Woo allowed the shatting upon by Jerry Goldsmith…. no, that’s not right. On which a huge crap was taken upon by Jerry Goldsmith aided by John Woo, or I mean with John Woo acting as bathroom attendant, and he didn’t even tip. He meaning Jerry, not John… Oh, fuck you guys anyway. I’m writing for the other fellas.

The point is that in WINDTALKERS you have no chance to get involved in the realism of the scene because DAH DAHDAH DUUUUUHHHHHHMMMMMM… that fucker keeps telling you how triumphant everything is. I see this all the time now, they gotta tell you which parts are scary and which parts are sad and especially which parts are funny or delightful. This is real dangerous in horror movies, because they substitute loud violins for scary scenes. In THE RING (american remake) Mr. Zimmer knows how to wait his god damn turn. He throws in some music here and there but he’s mostly doing the ol’ ambient sounds, and even keeps his fuckin mouth shut long enough for there to be long scenes with no music at all, just rain pouring on the roof. ‘Cause it takes place in Seattle.

Oh yeah, and my second pet peeve which this movie triumphantly avoids. This is the only movie I can think of off the top of my head where the characters use computers realistically. Somehow, every movie director in hollywood thinks that the viewing audience has never used a computer before. They expect us not to be distracted to see a character type “cursed videotape” into the computer, and it fills up the screen with giant letters, and then it goes BLIP BLIP BLOOP and a fancy 3-D animation hurtles us through a literal information superhighway as a voice says “searching internet for cursed videotape information” and then it gives us another animation of a videotape spinning around and gives a perfect scan of a newspaper article explaining the whole history of the tape. (extreme examples: THE NET, HACKERS, COPYCAT.) In THE RING (american remake) Naomi Watts uses a search engine, and a mouse, and she clicks on underlined text, and she has to click more than once, and there are no beeps. It’s beautiful! It’s like seeing a toilet in a movie for the first time in PSYCHO.

The story is fairly close to the original. But there are plenty of changes here and there – the tape gets an origin, the backstory to the curse is a little different. It’s kind of like somebody saw the movie a while back and tried to re-write it from memory. There are some real good bits that they added. One takes place on a ferry, another involves choking. Usually I like to give things away, like the guy from Felicity is the killer in SCREAM PART 3. But these are too good to ruin. When you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. These are very inspired, surreal bits good enough to have been in the original.

I still like the whole Nancy Drew mystery angle. Our heroine, this time a reporter for the Seattle PI (a real newspaper!) hears about the tape, watches it, and then spends the whole movie researching everything she can about it, following leads until she either dies or finds out What Exactly The Deal Is Here. (Note: Most modern reporters would just accept the police press release version of what happened, and wouldn’t ever find out about the tape. If she was a shitty reporter, she wouldn’t’ve had all this trouble.)

The structure is a little different and I think this throws the pacing off a little. I didn’t get the same death march feeling as it counted down the days until she’s supposed to die. It seemed to me like the first days passed by a little too fast, so you didn’t get the same drawn out sense of dread. On the other hand, the last day is handled real nice, and managed to surprise me even though I knew pretty much everything that was coming.

I liked it better in the japanese version that you heard just scratching over the phone. It made it more ambiguous whether it was really a curse, and made it more satisfying what she found later in that, you know, in that one place. But oh well.

Note to Seattle natives. This movie takes place in the area and you might get a few mild chuckles out of it. There is one scene where two monorails pass her, one after another. Not possible – yet! There are references to a Kirkland University. And it seems that the residents of some non-existent San Juanish island have that generic rural accent that all the country folk have in movies. Otherwise, nothing is too distracting, and they show a monorail, a bus, and a ferry – hooray for public transportation!

Anyway boys, I was real impressed with this movie, and glad that my gut feelings two years ago were wrong. If I had a scariness measuring machine, I think I would find that it was a little less scary than the original, but only by about two or three scariness measuring units. I can’t really be sure, because scariness measuring machines haven’t been invented yet, and even when they are I bet it will take a while for the prices to go down to a consumer level. Point is it’s a good picture. Now if the fuckers would just let somebody release the original on an NTSC dvd region code 1 (or better yet, 0) we can all be happy.

thanks dreamworks,


Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/13472

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 4th, 2002 at 11:41 am and is filed under AICN, Horror, Mystery, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Vern checks out the remake of THE RING!”

  1. Saw RINGS last night. Short version: you probably weren’t looking forward it and I can tell you that you can probably keep that feeling up of just planning on skipping it anyway.

    As for me, I was there at the beginning of the short-lived J-Horror craze, watching fan-subbed copied of RING and it’s sequels and other Japanese horror movies that came out in it’s wake. Since I’m a nerd, I never really moved past it when everyone else did so I kept up with the genre on and off over the years still. Nothing really to recommend all that much in the post original RING/JU-ON/TOMIE cycle though by-the-way.

    Anyways, I was one of those who back in the early-naughts had my arms crossed and insisted that the US remake of RING was going to be shit, I of coarse was hypocritically okay with the original movie being a remake/re-adaptation of a mini-series and the Korean remake of the original movie. So yeah, went to see it on a date and had to admit I liked it even more than original (and I liked the original movie quite a bit). Then I got excited for the sequel because the director of the original and many other really great horror movies was directing and it ended up being one of worst pieces of shit I’ve ever seen (it was also seen on a date and there was no second one after that).

    RINGS kept getting pushed back and had a muted marketing campaign so that didn’t exactly inspire confidence but I chose to be optimistic anyway. It’s no where near as bad and stupid as RING TWO (US version) but it’s way more boring and ho-hum. This one is pretty interesting in this whole sequelboot cycle we’re in right now: the movie opens up seeming to want to actually move the story forward by adapting the RINGS short film (a promotional short movie made to promote RING TWO and one could make the argument that it is best thing to come out of the series in either America or Japan (or Korea). So it starts off with a ring (HA!) of students, led by their skeevy college professor, watching the video (now an mp4) and studying the people during their 7 days. This part is boring. Then after that the movie shifts gears and turns into a direct-to-video retread of the first movie (again). Will our boring and stupid protagonist solve the secret of Samara? Of coarse not because that mystery was already solved and people watching the movie will have (both) twists figured out the minute they step into town (SPOILER: it’s the mystery of her mom and DOUBLE MEGA SPOILER: JUST LIKE THE FIRST MOVIE we’re made to be sympathetic to Samara but it’s a trap).

    Rewatching the original (US) movie two years ago really made me appreciate how it was about adults. So this one is about stupid vapid kids doing obviously stupid stuff. The filmatism is trying hard to ape Gore Verbinski’s first movie but lacks that movies impressive filmatism and pacing (and ominous tone). Arguably worst of all, Vincent D’Onfrio has an extended cameo towards the end and instead of giving us one of his great weirdo performances, he gives a dull just-give-me-my-paycheck performance. A Brian Cox in the first one he is not.

  2. Should have been about revenge porn and come out 3-5 years ago when isanyoneup.com was still a thing. Unfortunately, that concept is kinda inherently r-rated.

  3. geoffreyjar — bummer about RINGS. Dan Prestwich and I watched the entire RING franchise (and the entire JU-ON franchise) last year and I have to say, it’s almost stunning how completely both franchises coast on retreading the same exact scenario, and how steadfastly they refuse to try anything new (with the possible exception of RASEN, which is still bad but at least maybe kinda ambitious in the second half).

    Having said all that: if you haven’t seen it yet, SADAKO vs KAYAKO is a hoot.

  4. I read your review of SADAKO VS KAYAKO when you posted it on your blog (I subscribe to your RSS feed) and thoroughly enjoyed it sir! Yes I did see that one, it was a fun one and pretty much agree with your review. I took out references to that one because my initial post was so wordy. The movie is way better than the two awful SADAKO 3D movies they made at least, but even as a fan I can’t muster much defense of most of the series* (I really like RING and RING 2 (Japanese) and enjoy 0). Disagree with you on at least one thing on thing though, RING 0 was basically a drama/tragedy and not a horror movie, so by default that one kind of stands out as well.
    *I was originally going to send you an email in response to your review but couldn’t find one on your blog (it’s for the best). Just a thank you for the review (of the movie and both series), even if I seem to dig this crap more than you. Really enjoy your blog and keep up the good work!

    Tawdy: That’s a really good idea for bringing the series back and keeping it relevant! I actually think there are many ways to keep this series going without it giving us some very strong deja vu (the concept lends itself easily to reinvention I think). Unfortunately America has joined Japan in it’s stubborn refusal to do anything new with the concept or the Sadako/Samara character.

  5. geoffreyjar — hey thanks man, I appreciate it! You’re right, RING 0 is pretty different and semi-decent. Honestly I think watching the RINGS concurrently with the JU-ONs ruined them for me a little, just because the JU-ONs are so direly repetitive it really turned into death march and made me less likely to be charitable to the RINGS, which (after the excellent first one) are also bad but maybe not quite so totally empty of ideas. And I have to admit I was sort of charmed by the Sadako spider people in SADAKO 3D, despite its obvious badness.

  6. I knew that since they kept pushing it back it wasn’t going to be good but there were some really neat looking stuff in the trailer. Is the airplane sequence just a dream or something because in my mind that sequence seems incredible?

    I love The Ring. I love Ringu. I love Ring 2. I FUCKING HATE US Ring 2. I really like the short film Rings. I’ll tell you what I really love. The original source novels. You guys complain about the movies not giving you anything different then I recommend reading the books. All three are NOTHING like each other at all. They do completely new things with each book. Spiral is probably one of my favorite books ever. If they were to film the books as they are, by the third movie everybody would be so completely confused if they never read the books. Seriously, they’re all pretty incredible reads.

  7. Stern:

    The movie opens up with the airplane sequence and it is so tonally different from the rest of the movie (not to mention shot differently) that I’d almost be willing to bet that it was added way after the fact to both give the movie an opening to compensate for how boring it is when it starts and to have something cool-looking to put in the trailer. To answer your question, it’s okay. It’s a better idea than how it’s executed (not to mention it ends abruptly) but compared to what follows, I’ll take it. It’s the only ‘kill’ where they try something different (Samara coming out of a cell phone or lifting a dropped flat-screen TV does not count).

    Of course I own all the books. Also the short story collection with DARK WATER. Anyways, you’re right that there is some crazy shit in the sequel books that for some reason the movies refuse to touch. Pity. Did you see RASEN (which translates to SPIRAL), the first sequel (which RING 2 ignored)? I remember it being fairly faithful to the book but as Mr. S said, it’s not terribly good. Note: there are two RING TV series, RING: THE FINAL CHAPTER and SPIRAL, and even those are loose adaptations (and also bad).
    *Also there are more than three books but the fourth one (BIRTHDAY) was the last to receive an official translation in English

  8. I haven’t really delved too deep into the wide net Ring universes. I have the DVD of the Ringu set but I”m not sure if Rasen is in it. I’ll have to look.

    The fourth book with birthday is a collection of three stories and, for some reason, I haven’t read any of them. I feel like I should give them all a re-read.

    Maybe you can help me. Was it Ring 2 or Ring 2 US where I heard that they were trying to make it where the virus has spread world wide or something. I seem to recall reading about how the girl who witnessed her friend die couldn’t be near a TV because then the video would start to play or something.

  9. It’s been a while but I think it was RING 2 and not RING 2. I hope that clears it up for you!

    Seriously though (it’s not even a good joke because EVERYONE knows that the US version is actually called THE RING TWO), it’s the Japanese RING 2 that has the scenario you speak of.

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