No matter how much I go into detail about The Ring, I don’t think you’ll ever comprehend how much I hate this film. For a lot of people this American remake of The Ring really connected with them, I always found it about as frightening as the nightmares from an early 2000s goth kid who bought their baggy black chain covered jeans at Hot Topic back in the day when they still kept the store barely lit and Marilyn Manson playing all day.
Part of me feels broken or that there’s a piece missing as I watched The Ring. At the time it was released, a majority of people apparently liked this movie or at least pretended to enjoy this dull movie. Perhaps I’m missing someone but I doubt it since shortly after the release of The Ring and a few other Japanese horror remakes, American audiences went into a completely different direction when every horror movie suddenly featured gallons of blood and the most sadistic torturous murders the genre had seen. I have to believe the desire for what became defined as torture porn was a response to the brief J Horror trend of American filmmakers taking a memorable Japanese horror title and doing a version of it that is so terrible and cringeworthy in quality. Perhaps these embarrassing J Horror remakes from the early to mid 2000s is why more people really don’t have an issue reading subtitles today.
This remake of The Ring is something that currently rubs me the wrong way because it seems to be a film that is only championed by pretentious hipsters who feel a need to come across as different and unique by praising things other people have thrown to the wayside. When I see an explanation as to why somebody likes this movie, it tends to always be someone with their eyes closed, nose up in the air as they explain to me with a pretentious smirk that The Ring remake is a horror film that goes for dread instead of cheap excessive gore.
This remake gave me no dread, other than the fact that this two hour film is so agonizingly boring it feels like a four hour epic. Everything in this film from the visuals to the “horrific dread” is so over the top in a comical way with how bleak it wants to be. It has the attitude of a moody teenager who wears black eyeliner and lipstick, only wears shirts that promote the band Korn and blares Slipknot in their room all day as a means of pissing off their parents.
Perhaps the alleged dread of this film is championed by American audiences because they don’t know what actual dread is. I have to imagine 90-95% of audiences who love The Ring remake have never seen Hideo Nakata’s original film. It’s not easily available and American audiences at the time were certainly conditioned to not bother with foreign films. The Ring remake is a great example of taking advantage of American audiences who hate subtitles and would rather settle with a mediocre film.
What’s really surprising is that American film critics at the time gave this film overall positive reviews. The positive reviews of this film are a great example of how genre critics are needed when talking about horror films. The Ring remake is more of a Nancy Drew murder mystery for Generation X than it is a horror film. Perhaps mainstream critics don’t know what actual horror is since the dread of this film is a similar amount of dread people must’ve felt being in the audience as Andy Kaufman read The Great Gatsby from beginning to end.
The tone for The Ring is truly set at the beginning of the film with an opening that feels inspired by Scream. The scene builds and builds and you imagine something cool is about to take place….but all that happens is a girl opens a bedroom door and her face morphs into 2002 spooky CGI death face. It was at this moment that I should’ve taken the DVD out and watched something else, but I watched The Ring all the way through which gives you an idea at how little I value my time.
Most of this remake feels like a film that is lost in translation. Multiple moments in the film feel like they’re supposed to be something that’s scary but just before something frightening happens we cut to the next scene. I really want to get access to the original Ring and see the original version of this girl that has haunted Japanese audiences because in this remake she looks like a child who quickly went to Dollar General on Halloween night and bought some ghoul makeup.
The only positive thing I can say about The Ring is how much of a time capsule it is for the year 2002. I was somewhat amused by all of the dark colors and bleak look that reminded me of a Marilyn Manson music video that would get religious groups in an uproar. Other than that, The Ring is a film that I’m doubtful I’ll ever watch again.
This remake is overall one of the most pretentious horror films out there. They actually spent $48 million on this, believing they could outdo or at least add something new to the original idea of a Japanese filmmaker and like every other American remake from the J Horror era, it’s the equivalent of going into someone’s art gallery, taking a shit on a painting they’re trying to sell and letting them know you’re glad you could help add on to their original idea.