Imagine if you will avant garde cinema as terror mechanism. In Gore Verbinski’s anti-art remake of Hideo Nikata’s Ringu, a journalist counts down the days till her fatal demise. Rachel Keller (Namoi Watts) learns that her niece and three friends watched a mysterious videocassette before they met their deaths seven days later. She finds the tape, pops it in the VCR and discovers Meshes of the Afternoon reimagined by Nine Inch Nails and Mark Romanek. Once she takes the Grim Reaper’s phone call, everything goes progressively to shit: the timecode on her video-dub acts screwy, her psychic son (David Dorfman channeling Haley Joel Osment) draws pictures from the “dark place,” and her ex-boyfriend (Tom Cruise lookalike Martin Henderson) starts slamming file cabinets. While Nikata has nothing on power-pop Japanese auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa, he nonetheless eschews the kind of cheap scare tactics employed throughout this handsomely made yet preposterous facsimile. For Verbinski, a family’s Freudian baggage and the logistical details of Rachel’s investigation are far more important than contemplating the full-scale terror of copying the replicant ring virus. Though not quite as anxious or callous as spiritual spookers Bless the Child and Stigmata, The Ring (or, more accurately, Nancy Drew and the Case of the North Pacific Conundrum) has been similarly put together with attention deficit disorder—the film’s favorite gimmicks include smashing things loudly and flashing tableaux morts on the screen for split seconds. More telling is Verbinski’s notion of subtlety: a creepy, mentally handicapped kid slowly spinning on a merry-go-round. Despite an overabundance of crane shots, Bojan Bazelli’s camerawork deserves some credit, as does the location scouting. One particularly remarkable exterior evokes the anomie of the film’s video age citizens though Verbinski kills the mood with a cheap Rear Window reference. Then again, if The Ring‘s this-is-how-an-urban-legend-was-made intro isn’t any indication, the events depicted here have been seemingly manufactured for the Scream generation.
- Gore Verbinski
- Ehren Kruger
- Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn, Rachel Bella, Daveigh Chase, Chris Cooper
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