JUNE 17, 2007
I usually try not to see a remake before I see the original, but sometimes I have no choice. In the case of Ringu, the original wasn't readily available at the time. But I still wish I had waited, since the overall content and some whole scenes were copied directly for the American remake, I would prefer to see it “in order” as it were, so I could have more enjoyment from both. The ideas were in Ringu first, but they were all done better in the remake, in my opinion. As such, I cannot credit Ehren Kruger or Gore Verbinski for coming up with the downer ending, for example, only for doing it better.
It's rare, but I truly think the remake is a far superior film. No one can deny (well since it's my opinion, I guess they CAN, especially if they are bias folks, see below for more on them) that the backstory in the American one is superior (and makes a lot more sense), the cinematography is much more lush, and the acting doesn’t leave as much to be desired as it does in Hideo Nakata’s original film. Yes, for once, one can say “Martin Henderson was better than (anyone, in this case Hiroyuki Sanada).”
In fact, the problem a lot of people have with The Ring (American) has nothing to do with the film itself, actually. It’s because it was a huge hit. And PG-13. Much like Halloween ushered in the slasher era of the early 80s, The Ring kick-started the ‘teen’ horror phase that continues today, nearly 5 years later. Darkness Falls, The Grudge, Boogeyman, White Noise, The Messengers… all bad films that directly or indirectly owe their existence to The Ring. And that’s a goddamn shame, because I happen to think The Ring is a damn good ghost movie. I didn’t care about the rating when I saw it, because I thought it was more of an anomaly than anything (and I saw it in a mostly empty theater – the film was one of the last genuine “word of mouth” hits). There’s nothing in it to WARRANT an R rating, and there’s no evidence that they watered it down to make it OK for a 13 year old to see it either. In fact, the remake is MORE violent than the original, which would probably get a PG rating. Everything in the original happens off-screen and there are no makeup effects other than a quick shot of one of the ghost’s eyes. Hell, it doesn’t even have the hilarious horse scene on the ferry.
The other problem with the original (that was improved in the remake) is that there is never any real feeling of dread. No one seems particularly concerned with their looming fate. There’s a scene where the two heroes are almost out of time, and are looking for the body of the girl in the well. For some goddamn reason, rather than just sticking his friggin hand down (the water is only a few inches above his waist) and trying to find the girl’s body, they take their time. The guy fills a bucket, and the girl pulls it to the top of the well, then dumps it. Then she slowly lowers the bucket back down (rather than just tossing it) and they begin the process again. They waste a good hour or so doing this. Morons.
I haven’t read the book the film was based on, or seen any of the other sequels/prequels/remakes (the American one was actually the 2nd remake), so I dunno where this one falls in the giant pantheon that is the Ring movies, but it’s certainly not making me excited for the others. It’s certainly better than The Ring Two (which Nakata directed himself), a film I declare to be the absolute worst horror movie of 2005. And, I don’t think I need to remind anyone, 2005 was the year of White Noise, Cry_Wolf, Cursed, and Wolf Creek. Yikes. But at least that one had CGI elk to laugh at. This one’s just very… stiff? Empty? Half-assed? Downright boring? Take your pick.
What say you?