Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Before You Die...You See the Ring

What a weekend I had!  I hit the ground running when the bell finally rang to release us from school and dashed home to grab a Blu-ray I needed to return to Best Buy, and then I drove myself to Lancaster where I exhanged the disc and bought two more (it's a sickness) and watched almost all three films in one night.  Then on Saturday, I went to my first ever film convention (this one themed around horror films) and had an absolute blast.  It was like being in an amusement park where everything on display had something to do with horror and the attractions you waited in-line for included scads of famous people.  I met Elvira (Cassandra Peterson is her real name), Amy Steel (from Friday the 13th Part 2 and April Fool's Day), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog/Creepshow/Swamp Thing), Tippi Hedren (The Birds/Marnie), Lisa Wilcox (Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and 5), Denise Crosby (Star Trek TNG/Pet Sematary), and J.D. Feigelson (the writer of "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" - possibly one of the best TV horror movies ever made).  I was on a "famous person" high the whole day...and everyone was so nice.  Not just the celebrities, mind you, but everyone from the vendors hocking their wares, to the strange costumed people.  I've never been in a crowded place like that and have that much goodwill all over.  I hope they do one in Columbus again, now that I have a taste for convention life I think I'd totally go back.  I only scratched the surface of the people who were there too, as Gunnar Hansen (the original Leatherface) and Doug Bradley (the original Pinhead) were also in attendance...but there was simply not enough cash in my pocket to meet them all (it costs about $20 a person to get an autograph, plus $20 to get in the door). When I finally got home after 9pm, I felt like I had LIVED.  I won't ever look at those films in the same way again now that I know the personalities behind the characters (and I'll never forget how many of them just kinda shot the breeze with me like average joes).  Anyway, today's film finds its roots in Friday night's movie extravaganza and was the very disc that I went in to get in place of the one I had.  Until I heard that Best Buy had the film on Blu-ray exclusively, I realized I hadn't thought of it in a while.  It had certainly been years since I'd last watched it and I had no idea why, since it was such a good thriller.  However, going back to it Friday night reminded me why I thought the film was so great (and why I really didn't like the sequel)...though I won't lie, it does spook me on a hardcore level (and maybe that's why I don't watch it often).  However, let's watch this one together now and stare into the mystery of The Ring.

Rachel Keller is a single mom and a reporter for one of the biggest newspapers in Seattle and finds herself constantly frazzled and torn between her career and her duties as a mother.  Her career suddenly takes precedent when her niece, Katie, suddenly and inexplicably dies one night.  At the funeral, Rachel talks with her sister...Katie's mother...and her sister laments about how she cannot find one specialist to explain just how Katie died nor can she find one other instance of a disease or disorder that would stop a girl's heart and leave her contorted and deformed as Katie was found.  She begs Rachel to use her skills as an investigative journalist to find out just what happened.  Meanwhile, Rachel's son Aiden is hurting from the suddenness of Katie's death and is feeling as though he doesn't have enough time left.  Rachel asks around with Katie's friends to try and find out more about what was going on in her life.  It seems that Katie's boyfriend also died the same night and at the same time that she did, along with several of his friends.  According to them, they all watched a videotape that told them they would die in seven days.  In her sleuthing, Rachel discovers that the one common factor between all of the deceased teens is that they all spent a weekend at Shelter Mountain Inn, a secluded bunch of cabins in the mountains.  Rachel heads there and finds the tape that was spoken of and watches it.  On the tape are strange and frightening images, almost like watching someone's nightmare, and when it ends the phone rings and a voice whispers "Seven days."  Now, Rachel has only one week to unravel the mystery of the tape before the same curse kills her like it did Katie.

The Ring must have sounded like a ridiculous idea on paper, which is where it was first found.  Koji Suzuki, a Japanese author, wrote the story as a novel and despite the ridiculous sounding premise of a killer videotape it was popular enough to spawn a Japanese film in 1998.  Then, in 2002, Dreamworks Pictures decided that the Japanese film was frightening enough to warrant an American version and thus The Ring was born.  The film follows the template of the original film very closely, only diverging a bit toward the end, and does some with aplomb.  It is a frightening and unsettling mystery full of jumps and spooky shenanigans, and all of it hinges on the idea that a video could kill someone.  It's a real testiment to the strength of the original story, the screenwriting of Ehren Krueger, and the direction of Gore Verbinski.  The Ring is chock full of interesting story developments and twists but it also has creepy imagery in spades.  Just when you think you've seen everything the film can throw at you, it comes up with something new and terrifying to surprise you with.  The acting is top notch as well and features Naomi Watts in the lead role that rocketed her to stardom (she had already recieved critical acclaim, but The Ring put her front and center with a wider audience than her previous triumphs) along with Martin Henderson as her ex-boyfriend Noah and David Dorfman as Aiden, her spooky and troubled son.  Special mention should be given to Brian Cox who plays a small supporting role that is hugely important to the plot.  All the pieces of The Ring click and make you believe that yes, this is possible...which is pretty amazing considering that it is about a cursed videotape.  Watch if you dare.

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