I can still vividly remember seeing Gore Verbinski’s extra-sketchy horror thriller The Ring at a test screening deep in the San Fernando Valley, roughly five months before the film’s official release, and how absolutely floored the audience was by the conclusion, and on a personal level, how totally unnerved I felt when I left the theater and headed to the parking lot. I had not seen the original film, I had no real idea of the notion of “J-horror,” and because this genre is the one that’s the least traveled for me as a viewer, I wasn’t prepared for how lethal and odd this movie would be. I am a massive fan of Gore Verbinski’s work, from the smaller films (The Weather Man) to the blockbusters (The Lone Ranger, Pirates 1-3) to the outright surreal (Rango) and everything else in between (Mousehunt, The Mexican); he’s got a tremendous visual eye, he’s attracted to smart and quirky material, and I love his attention to detail and his sense of cinematic excitement.
The Ring is one of those movies that no matter how many times I check it out, I am always left creeped out by the finale; when that girl pops out of the television, I’m telling you, people leapt out of their seats during that advance screening and I needed a change of pants. Bojan Bazelli’s extraordinarily stylish images basically put you into a trance while watching this bold and artistic piece, and in tandem with the haunting musical notes from Hans Zimmer, the film conjured up a near constant state of dread while keeping unnecessary blood and gore to a minimum. And then there’s the scared-to-death face in the opening reel! Naomi Watts was great here, and looked utterly stunning, while weirdo-boy David Dorfman conveyed an appropriate amount of vulnerability and unease. Brian Cox comes in like thunder towards the end and dominates with a beyond menacing and pivotal supporting performance. Everything about this movie works for me as a viewer, and I find it to be thoroughly entertaining and rather glorious on an aesthetic level.