Well.. something has been bugging me recently. The Ring, I saw it with shineyquarter when she was here. What did I think of it? Hmmm... mixed feelings mainly.
I should preface this with this little rider - I saw Ring first, the original film. Yes.. I said Ring, not Ringu, why? Because THAT IS ITS NAME.
The translation of the damn title is Ring. Not The Ring, or Ringu. Ringu is a bastardised name so that the poor 'general masses' don't get confused. Its an aproximate anglisised spelling of how is pronounced - as japanese words tend to be in vowel pairs. Its actually a series of films Ring, Ring 2 and then a prequel - Ring 0. Ring and Ring 0 are based on stories, Ring on a novel, Ring 0 on a short story by the same author.
Ye, in case you didn't know Ring was based on a novel, which became a set of novels, called Ring, Razen (translation - Spiral), and Loop. Please note the different names - the movies actually bear no real relation to the books, at least after the first film (that is this movie series, there is a movie based on Razen).
The original movie removed all of the biological elements (its all a virtual virus, but I won't elaborate on that right now) in preference for going for a more supernatural feel. Good thing too!
This brings me to the remake. Now firstly, the remake doesn't know what it wants to be. A straight re-make, a re-interpretation, or a new take on the source material from the books while being influenced by the original movie (another movie Ring Virus was released in Korea and Japan that did this too).
You see, the original movie made sence, it didn't explain everything, but it all made a kind of twisted sence. It felt right in a really disturbing way, and that made it all the more disturbing. There are far too many plot holes in the new one and random "oh look a little reference to the original, how clever of us" moments for it to make sense as a cohesive whole.
But I shall take it point by point rather than rambling*
Changes - I'm not against a remake changing its material from the source, I think it can work quite well (Planet Of The Apes for example - a great romp, not going to win an oscar, but fun and a different kind of movie than the original). In fact I really liked the whole horses switch they made in The Ring, the concept worked quite nicely. And the cliff suicide, while lacking the dramatic and viseral apeal of the volcano in the original, worked well and was tied in quite well**.
The water being associated with Summara was a nice touch too, something that worked quite nicely but wasn't really used to its full effect.
References to The Books - This bugged me a lot, not that I have actaully read the books much, but certain things just don't make sence unless you understand the book reference that they used. An example of this is Summaras sudden abilty to move and influence things at the cabin. In the books it is later revealed that Sakura (the japanese character) has telekinetic abilities (which is why that mirror in the video was in two different places - there was a reason, it wasn't actually different clips). However in the original movie no mention is made of this, and in the remake no mention is made of this. It just jars a little when its used then, for no real reason, when there was no need to use it at all.
Overall the film was trying to be too clever, and should have just stuck to what it was supposed to do - tell a scary story.
Pacing/Direction - Or the lack of it. There was no pacing in this film, except in one scene. The original was a crafted work that moved up the pace slowly towards the end until you were blown out of your seat by the final conclusion. This one just seemed happy to show pretty images and camera angles. This is a shame, as pacing of a film is key to being scary.
Special Effects - These were (of cource) top notch, except for a wierd issue with Sumara's hair when she apears at the end coming out of a wooden unit - but overall very good. The death effect was great, and really the only truly scary thing in the film. Was the effect slightly over the top? Yes, but its worked, and although it gave a slightly different spin to the deaths (not just of utter terror as in the first one, but more like the genetic virus of the books - note: its not supposed to be what happens after 7days in a well, just a wierd effect - so sayeth the guy that made it) it work well. I liked the effect of the video interlaced Sumara at the end, though it weakend the character even more, it was a nice effect.
Suspence and Scares - I counted them, there were three in the whole movie. The initial shock of seeing the dead girl in the closet, a well timed bang from a filing cabinet, and the real ick factor of not wanting to see the dead guy in the chair.. the only actual bit of suspence in the film. Sadly the lack of pace killed any hope of this being a movie that really scared you, so you are left with jumps.. and there were only a few.
Characters and Acting - Soem decent acting was in this film, and then there was some awful overacting. They guy that plays the father (I forget his name) was the worst bit of casting ever, he looked the part, but he just can't act.. or rather, can't act subtly. Comparing characters between the two films I have to say that the US one got the idiots. In the original they are two intelligent characters, in the remake we have screaming drama queen and big dumb palooka. oh.. not forgeting...
That Damn Kid - argh. Was this kid supposed to be aping Haley Joel Osmond from the Sixth Sense or was it an accident? Aside from concentrating too much on the kids communication/mystic knowledge of Sumara without actually using it for anything than annoying pithy comments this kid just screamed at me liek the writers and director were going "Look.. its eerie and scary because its AFTER A KID! and its really wierd because he knows something and ITS A KID!!.. look A KID!!! ooooh it must be evil because its USING KIDS!!!!"
The whole 'spooky kid' thing is DONE hollywood.. it was done before Sixth Sense, but they did it SO well in that. In this they dont.
The psychic powers thing is a bit weak too in my opinion, its actaully a reference to Ring 2, as is a lot from this movie. However as his father doesn't have these powers (as he does in the japanese one) it doesn't really work too well.
The Mother - They destroyed this character. She came across as a weak, broken, and not at all interesting character. Whearas the original is incredibly tragic and sad, but has depth and dimension. Almost only lip service to the character really.
Sakura/Sumara - Where to start... oh god where to start. This is my main problem with the remake. Sumara is the little tragic girl, not a nice girl in particular, but an poor set upon, daddy doesn't love her, mommy hates her... gifted girl that is set upon by the world because of her talents. Ok granted she uses them to torment ppl*** but she now has this whole emotive reasoning behind why she's a vicious bitch.
In the original (movie) Sadako is this unpeakable horror. A viscious killer with no reasoning for it, other that she can and she seems to enjoy it. There is no emotional connect. She hates you. She hates you and she wants you to die. And you will, you'll die when you see her staring at you.
As opposed to a poor little wet girl who really wasn't too bad if only people could have understood her. *sighs* She also moves better and creepier in the original, liek a broken and wet doll. Very creepy, none of this TV static flashing, just slow, deliberate.. and very very evil.
ok.. points done, at least for now. I may be coming over as overly harsh on this movie, I didn't hate it. I want to make that clear, I just found it such a shattering disapointment. I good idea not done properly.
However, overall impact wise, I'm sure that the film scored for its target audience. Namely people that hadn't see the original and don't demand a lot from their horror movies. It suffered from three very american traits when making a scary or supernatural movie.
1. Showing the Monster - "ooh look at our special effects departments wonderful creation" no.. I don't want to, because it WILL look like latex. they days when a visible monster scared people are back in the 50's. We're too savvy to the creation and process now. The scariest things we see are the details we create in our heads. This is why Sadako is scarier in the original - you never see her face, or hear her talk. Just enough to get your mind working. For a good example of how this can kill a film - watch Jeepers Creepers, its almost to the moment the film goes turd the moment they show the monster.
2. Jumps Not Scares - US movies have this habbit of equating making you jump with a scary movie. This is dumb. Maybe it is because its not hard to make someone jump in a dark cinema and so it requires very little talent to do it. Real scares are the kind that make your chest tight and you take home with you.. leaving you unable to sleep.
3. Trying to Explain Everything - They did this ins the remake.. tried to explain all the spooky things that went on (the 7 days, why sumara could do what she did). Now this is actually a fault of the books, but in books you can get away with it, you have much more scope for pace and timing and graphic absorbing detail. In a film this just kills it and makes it sound like you are trying to cater for the lowest and most dumb in your audience.
Yes.. so um... hmm. Like I said.. I didn't hate this film, I in fact thought it was well shot and edited, if not well directed, but I was VERY disapointed in it.
Oh btw - they are looking into making a sequel, though not with the director that made this one (thank god). I shall wait with, probably misplaced, optimism...
**plus the sudden creation of a semi-active volcano in north east USA would provoke rather more comment than a killer video tape.
*** and anyone that has had any contact with children of her age will understand that this is normal behaviour for a child. Calling a child vicious, petty, and spitefull is like saying "hey, you've got a face." Accurate, but pointless.