He wore a simple plain band around the ring finger of his left hand, flouting the requirement of marriage the habit traditionally supposes. It did not look like a wedding ring, seeming too thin and delicate. Nor was it gold--soft, radiant, and of great value, an appropriate symbol of the institution at its best. No, it was a low grade of silver, purchased at discount or stolen outright from an unknown shop or display case somewhere in Manhattan, with the approximate resale value of a paperclip, but the emotional weight of platinum.

She had given it to him four years ago, slid it onto his right index finger, for which it was just slightly too small. Hyperextending the digit flattened the joint, allowed the ring to be pushed back over the formerly smooth skin between it and the knuckle, skin that now, to his great private chagrin, had a sparse covering of tiny hairs. It made him self-conscious when holding onto rails in crowded subway cars, nervous when he lit a female stranger's cigarette. He felt simian, unevolved, and in the bizarre but not uncommon combination of egocentricity and self-disgust, presumed every part of his person to be the focus of judgemental scrutiny, but no parts moreso than those which were so visibly flawed. Of course, no one had mentioned this development of age, but then who would; to do so would be unsconscionably rude of a stranger, or even a casual acquaintance. Only friends, great friends, close, personal friends, had the right to remark freely upon one's flaws. And even then, such a thing is better left one's lover, with whom other boundaries of intimacy and closeness of flesh had already been broken down.

No one had remarked upon his flaws for over a year.

"Hm," she chewed her lip, seeing the ring, her ring, on his finger for the first time. "I don't like it." He didn't either; it pinched, made the flesh around it look puffy and fat, added a daintiness to the entire hand he felt certain did not flatter him.

"It doesn't really go on this finger," he said.

"It's too round."

"It's a ring."

"Not too circular, stupid. Too round."


She laughed, and pulled the ring off with enough effort that he could feel, see, and hear his finger separate from the joint. It made the pop of a tiny suction cup, the kind at the tip of a novelty dart being yanked away from glass. The skin shifted over the straining of ligament and bone.

"That finger always did that, right?"

He grimaced and nodded his head as if the experience were entirely new, and entirely her fault. She knew it was not, and smiled again at his comical, exaggerated faux-stoicism. She laughed a lot when she was with him.

Holding his left hand by the wrist up to the level of her mouth, she kissed it, made it all better and better and better, kissing in succession each digit the ring was tried on and did not fit. Lifting her eyes to his, and pulling him close, it ended up loosely around the one he wore it on four years later, still an imperfect fit, though now additionally scratched, beaten, and dull.

Cold weather contracts the flesh. Metal, conducting that cold directly to the skin, becomes a constant reminder of its own presence, sending bolts of iciness through the nervous system whenever it touches. Intermittently full contact, the result of the body's shrinking away from it, prevents the body from acclamating, accepting the ring as a permanent fixture. Every time he felt it, he felt it freshly, and remained perpetually aware of its hardness, its temperature, the fact that it didn't belong on his person.

He had never been married.

"You can't wear it there," she looked down at the hand curling over her shoulder, the ring pressing on the soft, naked skin below her collar bone and above her breast.

"Why not? You put it there."

"So? You're not married. It's bad luck."



"It doesn't go on the other fingers, though."

"Then put it on your other ring finger on your other hand."

"I don't think I can. Doesn't that mean I'm in a gay marriage?"

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of."

"Doesn't mean it's not true."

"It isn't."

"Suit yourself. When I'm swept off my feet by some random guy, don't come crying."

"You'd have to get a divorce from your imaginary husband first, you idiot. Take it off."

She grabbed the ring, put it on the nightstand.

"It's bad luck."

He fiddled with it in restaurants. Rocked it back and force with this thumb in elevators, tapped it against the arms of his chair at work. Occasionally--no, frequently--he would touch his hand to his face, feigning an itch or displaying a weariness he truly felt but which was always attributed by people to something else, some lesser problem they could feel comfortable discussing, even if they suspected more. He had started his life over while wearing that ring; met his new friends, took a new job, made certain it had been seen. Popular opinion held him married.

Did he have the credibility of an adult, he wondered? Did people have more understanding, more sympathy, because the ordinary troubles of a single man were now thought of as more serious 'troubles at home?' Even unimportant people could have important problems. Was that the message of the ring?

He didn't like that idea of himself. Too desperate, too small and scared.

Doesn't mean it's not true.

"Do you love him?"

Half the apartment was already in the rented van downstairs on the street. He sat in sickened stillness on the side of the stripped bed (the bedclothes were all hers) while she flitted from drawer to drawer collecting the last remnants of her time there.

"If I did, would it change things?"

He'd surprised her at home. She'd wanted to do this while he was gone, and be gone by the time he was back. Intuition had him take a long lunch. He saw the silhouette of the van, a black shape double-parked precisely where a week's worth of sleepless nights had told him it would be, from three blocks away. He expected--or hoped for--a sensation of calm to come with finally knowing, with the end of waiting for her get around to leaving him.

Instead, he felt fear and disbelief, compounded by the anxiety of his emotions having taken him by surprise. She betrayed him; he betrayed himself. This was the sickness he sat with on the bed, sat with until she'd gone, and wasn't coming back.

Her ghost filled the room. He could feel it prickle his skin, push on his chest when he walked through it. It laid on her side of the bed, kept its things in empty drawers, jumped out at him from the closet, moving on a lingering perfume he'd one day later smell on another woman and not be able to place.

It led him to the ring.

Crowned by a layer of dust and hiding beneath the nightstand, it had not been touched for the last four years. It had not been touched by the last four years. It was the same ring. It didn't know.

It's bad luck.

Once in a while, he met someone new, went on a date. The women varied in age, character, history, but all saw a finger bound to someone or something else. He claimed he was separated or divorced, even widowed--said this or that. To some it made a difference, others didn't care. If he went home with someone, it was always one of the others; until he could care, he didn't feel he deserved a woman who did. Or so went the self-sacrificing story he told himself.

To the woman he wanted, though, the woman who looked into his eyes, touched his hand gently, and glanced with a sympathetically thin smile at the dented, bruised old ring, he was unavailable.

You're not married.

He wore it because it saved him. It gave a reason for his pain, his suffering, and his cowardice. Made it acceptable to be alone, just by being on a certain finger of a certain hand. It made a choice.

It doesn't really go on this finger.

Stepping off the N train at Union Square, he saw her. She stood gracefully in heels and a long skirt, longer than she'd ever worn when they were together. A short denim jacket, collar turned up; brown hair in long pony tail at the back. He'd seen a million backs just like hers, he thought. But this one, somehow, he knew.

In the split-second he had to move on, he did not. The ring burned with his desire to vanish it. His fingers twisted around to protect it as she turned around.

"Oh, hi...how are you?"

He was fine.

"And how's work?"

It was fine.

"You're married?"

She'd seen the ring. Seen it, and did not remember; forgot she'd given it to him, perhaps forgotten everything--and in a moment of rage, or despair, or shock, it fell to nothing. Without moving any part of his hand, he felt for it. He groped with memory and sadness, searched with a year long expectation. It was not there.

A laugh she could not understand escaped his lips as he looked down to the ring, still visible on his finger, but otherwise impercetible. With ease he'd never thought possible, he slid it off his finger and flipped it like a penny he'd found on the sidewalk.

"No, no. I'm just an unwed husband."

He smirked, and pushed the ring into a deep pocket.

"It was too round, anyway."

She smiled through her confusion, holding up as best she could to a gaze that wasn't looking for anything as much as it was asking her to see. It was fearless and intense, reminding her of a man she used to know and had loved.

Of course, he kept it, because a person keeps things. But as he rubbed the skin from white back to the color of living flesh, and remarked that the indentation had not in fact gone down to the bone, he thought of something gold and soft that fit.

The Ring is a suspense/horror film directed by Gore Verbinski and written by Ehren Kruger. The Ring is based on the hugely successful Japanese film Ringu (directed by Hideo Nakata and written by Hiroshi Takahashi), which itself is based on a hit novel of the same name by Kôji Suzuki. The film centres around Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), a reporter and single mother, whose teenage niece dies under mysterious circumstances: As far as the coroner can tell, her heart just stopped. The body was found with a terrified countenance and looking as though she had been underwater for some time. At the urging of Keller's sister (her niece's mother), she begins investigating what could have happened to her niece and discovers that, with three other teens, the girl had watched a strange tape exactly a week before her death. The other three teens that watched the tape turn out to be dead as well.

After watching the tape, according to some friends of the deceased, they received a phone call which informed them that they would die in seven days. Keller eventually finds the tape and watches it herself, which may sound stupid from the audience's perspective, but keep in mind this sounds like it isn't much more than an urban legend to the characters in the film. The tape is filled with dark, surreal images, showing an earlier description of its content as "something out of someone's nightmare" to be accurate. As one might expect, after viewing the tape, Keller receives a phone call. A small voice tells her, simply, "seven days."

From here on out, the film follows Keller's search for the origins of the tape in the seven days that follow. Drawn into the apparent curse of the tape is her ex, Noah (Martin Henderson), and their son Aidan (David Dorfman). As more of the mystery is unravelled, the images on the tape begin to make sense, piece by piece, like a puzzle coming together. This puzzle assembly is at once mysterious and satisfying as the film moves along, until the end when the audience is thrown a twist. The twist works though, as there are things that hinted to it throughout the film. Everything in the film is not explained in simple terms for the audience, despite flashes of imagery from the tape when imagery in the world around the characters corresponds to it. Missing what happens in one scene may leave the viewer thinking something was left unexplained. Some reviewers have even complained that the film leaves too much unexplained. While some significant pieces of the film are never fully explained, little that is important is left without at least an idea given of its reasons for being.

The film is intricate in both dialogue and cinematography. The imagery, and colour in particular, is of major import. The tape's imagery is all in either grey or grey-tint, while much of the environment outside the tape appears, at first, in brilliant colours (the red sunset being especially noteable thanks to false colour infrared film). As the film goes on and Rachel and Noah get closer to the origins of the tape, the world around them becomes greyer, in both colouration (thanks to heavily overcast skies) and subject matter. For someone whose previous credits include a family comedy, an action comedy, and the creation of the Budweiser frogs, Gore Verbinski certainly has no problem creating a viewing experience that will send chills down your spine.

Complimenting Verbinski's excellent direction is Naomi Watts' acting as an aggressively curious reporter. David Dorfman's performance as her son is also good, especially for someone his age, though at times he actually seemed too mature (though this may be more of a script issue than acting). Martin Henderson's performance as Noah is good as well, though not as much as Watts or Dorfman's. The only bad acting in the film is from the two teenage girls in the beginning, though, as can be expected in a horror film with characters like that, their parts are small due to unfortunate events.

The only thing truly bothersome about the film (assuming that being creeped out isn't bothersome) was how the ending was presented. The actual ending to the story itself isn't the problem but how the last twenty or thirty minutes of the film show it. Three or four times the film feels like it has concluded and begins to fade out, only to begin another scene again. The film seems to drag a bit because of this, as though the film makers' are trying to decide which ending they like better and are taking the audience along with their decision making process.

DyRE's super-duper overall rating: 8/10.

The Ring was released by Dreamworks SKG in 2002. The MPAA rating is PG-13 "for thematic elements, disturbing images, language and some drug references." I'm not sure why "thematic elements" are mentioned with regards to the rating (careful kids, it has themes!) and the number of "drug references" is about one.

The Ring, a 2002 American re-make of a Japanese film called Ringu, is a wonderfully disquieting film. I've seen literally hundreds of horror movies, and I was genuinely creeped out at the end of this one. I encourage all of you who enjoy intelligent horror/suspense films to check this one out, preferrably on the big screen.

For a summary of the plot, check out DyRE's excellent writeup above. Those of you who haven't seen the film would do well to read no further....

Movie Review (with spoilers)

This movie closely follows the course set by Ringu, though there are definite changes; the protagonist father is turned from a conflicted psychic to a feckless videographer, and the protagonist mother's character has taken on a hard, heedless edge. The central disaster has been turned from a volcanic eruption to the mysterious death of the Morgan horses. The Ring's plot unfolds in a less straightforward fashion than Ringu's, and I enjoyed the other changes made for the American version.

Naomi Watts' performace as the driven Rachel Keller is wonderful. This woman refuses admit defeat, refuses to give up, and that is both her strength and her fatal flaw. We get a glimpse of how her refusal to give up can have a dangerous side when she is heading out to the old Morgan horse farm on the ferry. She tries to pet a horse on the ferry, persisting even when the horse starts to spook at her touch. She refuses to believe that she'd truly frighten a horse, and as a result the poor beast breaks out of his pen and leaps to his death in the cold ocean water. This event foreshadows her decision at the end of the film to do Samara's bidding and get her son to copy the tape and show it to others; she holds the little boy's hands down on the machine's buttons to ensure that he'll do it. Her overriding goal is to keep her son alive; her act seems to stem less from motherly love and more from her fierce, stubborn refusal to lose.

David Dorfman turns in a very good performance as Rachel's son Aidan Keller. I disagree with DyRE; I think that the boy's unnatural maturity was both intentional and appropriate. His character has been abandoned by his self-absorbed parents as much as Samara was; he's praised for his independence, but what choice does he have? His mother is seemingly totally devoted to her career as a reporter and prefers that her own son call her "Rachel" rather than "mom". His father is almost totally absent from his life. He struck me a bit like the child of alcoholic parents; kids in that situation often seem unusually mature, because keeping the household in order has fallen onto them because the parents can't be relied upon. And, ultimately, Samara uses the boy to get to his mother Rachel, who as a reporter is uniquely suited to spread the tape. Noah receives visions from her well before he ever sees the tape himself. Samara needs Rachel to spread the tape; her other victims -- especially Rachel's niece, one of the first victims -- are disposable bait.

Having seen the movie several times now, I wonder if Aidan's connection with Samara is as simple as her being able to more directly influence a child closer to her own age. Aidan has dark eyes, but Rachel and Noah both have blue eyes. Blue-eyed parents can't genetically produce a child with dark eyes. This could either be a slight flub on the part of the filmmakers -- or it's intentional, foreshadowing that Aidan isn't Noah's biological son. It could be a clue that, when taken with Aidan's behavior, points to him having a mysterious parentage that further connects him with Samara. Either way, we won't know until the other movies come out.

Martin Henderson was believable as Noah, Aidan's absentee father and Rachel's old flame. Noah is talented and clever, but he doesn't have much in the way of common sense or maturity. Until the events of the film bring him and Rachel closer together, he's refused to even try to be a father to his boy, assuming that no father is better than a flawed one. Noah's fatal flaw is that he's too slow to put the pieces together and learns his lessons far too late.

Brian Cox does well in a small but important role as the reclusive Richard Morgan, Samara's understandably less-than-doting father. I really enjoy Cox's performances, and wished he had a bit more screen time here.

Daveigh Chase played Samara Morgan. She had relatively little screen time, but she was appropriately creepy, particularly in the mental hospital scenes.

Samara's character really intrigued me. She is the most restless of restless spirits -- she never sleeps, not even in death.

When Rachel and Noah discover the well hidden beneath the cabin, I thought I knew exactly where the movie was going. This same plot twist was used in the 1980 Peter Medak film The Changeling. The events of that film come about because a young, crippled boy is killed by his father and replaced with a healthy child so that his father can keep the family fortune. The child is disposed of in a well, and a house built on the well. The child's hurt, angry spirit haunts the house, but when his bones are uncovered and his murderer exposed, his spirit is also laid to rest and the poltergeist occurances disappear after the murdering father's "replacement" son dies and the family mansion burns.

But Samara's spirit doesn't seek vengeance (or at least not entirely). She had a taste for torment long before she died; in fact, it was her own mother, who had long yearned for a child, who dumped her in the well in an effort to get the evil occurences on the island to stop.

And that's the crux of the movie: Samara was no innocent young girl locked away and then murdered by mad parents. She was the fleshly embodiment of an evil spirit from the day she was born.

My own personal take on this is that Samara represents, if not an actual anti-Christ figure, then something like an anti-prophet. Many of the holiest figures of the Bible -- Isaac, Jacob, John the Baptist -- were born to barren mothers, women who supposedly could not conceive children. Samara's mother likewise could not have children. Early on, the island's doctor says that Samara was adopted as an infant, but Noah later discovers a birth certificate in Samara's medical files. After multiple miscarriages, Anna Morgan gave birth to Samara; only, presumably, Richard Morgan was not the child's true father.

Samara also engages in the activities of an anti-prophet. What do prophets do above all else? The spread the religious memes of their God. Samara's burning desire is to spread her nightmarish visions through the videotape, spread the meme of her evil. If, after seeing her nightmare, one does not spread the meme further, Samara kills you. As chain letters go, Samara's is pretty diabolical.

I expect sequels to this movie will soon be in production, and I'm much looking forward to them.

Movie Information

Running Time: 109 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: Ehren Kruger, based on Hiroshi Takahashi's screenplay of Koji Suzuki's novel Ringu

Music: Hans Zimmer

Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli (who also shot Pumpkinhead)


Naomi Watts: Rachel Keller
Martin Henderson: Noah
David Dorfman: Aidan Keller
Brian Cox: Richard Morgan
Jane Alexander: Dr. Grasnik
Lindsay Frost: Ruth
Amber Tamblyn: Katie
Rachael Bella: Becca
Daveigh Chase: Samara Morgan
Shannon Cochran: Anna Morgan
Sandra Thigpen: Teacher
Richard Lineback: Innkeeper

"I think before you die you see the ring."

Most of the needed information on this film is given in the above write-ups, but I offer this review, in which I don't agree that "The Ring" was a good film.

Based on the popular 1998 Japanese horror film "Ringu," the latest scary flick to hit theaters this season, "The Ring," offers several pleasingly spooky moments, but falls short when it comes to casting off many of the tired cliches in the genre - and a few lost connections at the end of the story leave a viewer in a circle of confusion.

The story begins on a dark and stormy night (a person could start counting cliches in scene one), and two teenage girls are by themselves in a big house catching up on gossip. One girl mentions a rumor about a disturbing video that if anyone watches will die seven days later. The other girl reveals she's seen it, exactly one week prior to that night along with three other friends. Silence creeps in as the girls try to joke it off, but one unsettling event after another keep the two wary, as well as the audience. Director Gore Verbinski does well here, pumping the viewer with anticipation until the expected demise takes place.

The story then focuses on Rachel (Naomi Watts of "Mulholland Drive") and her troubled son. Rachel was the deceased girl's aunt, and since mystery surrounds the girl's death she decides to find out more. In a tedious questioning scene with teenage pals, where people finish each other's sentences so poorly one would think they were in a beginner's acting class, Rachel learns about the tape and investigates further. Rachel watches the video (of course), which consists of choppy images of bone-white skies looming over dead animals, a dirty empty swing set and much more, along with a freakish, bloated little girl fading in and out -- culminating in a sequence almost as disturbing as any David Lynch flick.

And then the phone calls begin. With the help of an old flame and her picture-drawing son, Rachel attempts to solve the tape's mystery before certain death arrives.

The cinematography in "The Ring" is terrific; the somber ambiance remained strong throughout the film, cameras and lighting magnifying the grim old farm house setting and enhancing fear upon every character's gloomy face. But although a couple of fright-filled scenes cause some good jumps in the seat, a lack of ingenuity, scant fresh dialogue and barely decent acting (which Watts proved once capable of in "Mulholland") fail to make this movie stand out in its field. Creepy little girls were perfected in "The Exorcist" and "The Shining" years ago. Teenagers full of frightening gossip has been more than overused.

In truth, "The Sixth Sense," has raised the bar for modern day horror movies. A level of depth, and perhaps a twist in the tale is requested along with the gasps. I know certain standard events are now expected in horror movies, but we only could laugh at some scenes, such as when Rachel attempts to pet a horse in a trailer. OK so she knows she's marked for death-- that horses in particular were plagued by the curse. She watches the horse get skiddish, but continues to try to pet him. Must she pet this horse? Of course the doomed black beauty goes more than a little berserk.

Dump the trite and become something more than what most people have seen 1,000 times. In this case at least, I wanted to be afraid of putting any tape in my VCR for a week.

Grade: C+

Rated: PG-13 for language, violent images

I have to disagree with Q-Swirl and go so far to say that this is the finest horror movie I have ever seen. In an era of cliched schlock horror films such as Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Jeepers Creepers, this film really raises the bar. Personally, I am not a horror film fan, and I cringe at most titles. The Sixth Sense intrigued me, but it never frightened me, and I will admit that The Exorcist frightened me; but I have never seen a film, before the Ring, that has chilled me so deeply that I was afraid to go to sleep that night.

Q-Swirl, I find that you are focusing far too much on the negative aspects of the film. Indeed, there are some quite cliched scenes, such as the beginning (in which I sat there thinking, "Great, I knew I shouldn't have gone for a horror film..."), but there is much more to the film. Perhaps the terrifying capabilities of this film can be altered by the setting, and so I shall first describe the situation I was in. It was a saturday night, my parents and sister had gone to Sydney and so I had the house all to myself. It was a windy night, plenty of mumps and bumps in the dark; I had all the lights turned off, and there I huddled on the couch with a rug held close to my chin, trembling in the pale light of the television screen.

Why was I so terrified? Because this move plays with your mind. I have an overactive imagination, I can here a noise in the dark, and look towards it to "see" something there. I know its not there, I know its just my mind, but it scares me all the same. What is so frightening about this is not what is there, but what isn't there. Now you might be thinking, what the hell am I on about? Let me get to the point: your standard horror tries to horrify you by showing you scenes of violence and murder (i.e. American Psycho, Scream etc). In this modern day society, my violence saturated brain is immune to these methods, and I find myself scoffing at them and turning away. The Ring, however, uses no such methods.

Take, for example, the first scene. When the young teen's "expected demise" comes, it is not shown; instead there is a scream that is cut off with a quick flash, and we do not see what happens. Here is where my overactive imagination kicks into full swing, and suddenly my mind is filled with horrific imagery of painful death - I start to get a bit creeped out. Later, we are shown what she really looked like, but it is only a quick flash, and then it is gone, but that image is supplanted in my mind, and I am given free reign to make of it what I will. Again, images of torture and death fill my mind - I start to get scared.

Now once they show the actual tape (the one that the reporter, Rachel Keller, watched), that was it, I was oficially scared shitless. Again, no violence, no direct images of horror, just suggestions. The use of pure black and white, the scratchy film that skips all over the place, but what unnerved me most of all was the eery music that accompanied it. It was strangely unearthly, ghoulish and demonic; such a simple repeated sound that scraped at my heart and made me tremble. This score may not even be classified as music, rather just a string of sounds, but whatever it is, it is utterly horrifying, provoking every image I had of fiends, devils, death and decay.

As the plot unravels, it just keeps getting creepier. Things that are seen by the characters, and events that occur, are supplanted with images from the film, thus relating back to the tape, and instantly the mind churns out several different scenarios of what these demonic omens are going to bear for our heroine. Yet, we are denied knowledge, the heroine must delve deeper, but even at the end of the line, when the movie is completely finished, so much is left unexplained. For me, this only made me appreciate the film even more, it was something new and something that is rarely done in films. Rather than taking the viewer by the hand, guiding them along pointing out scary point A, scary point B, and conclusion here, the viewer is left in an immense realm to guide themselves. What really happened? This is your prerogative to discover. Was Samara an innocent child or an incarnation of evil? Can she ever be stopped? What does she really want? The film does not answer these questions, but leaves them hanging out in the open with subtle suggestions and it is now your task to answer them.

I have seen this movie several times now, and each time it just gets better. Even though it has been several months since the last time I watched it, I still mull it over in my head, and have gotten a few thought provoking, if not terrifying, dreams from it. Overall, The Ring is a brilliant film, and in my opinion, it is the best horror film out there. Hire this movie out on a night when you are alone, and watch it in the dark if you want one of the most terrifying experiences ever.

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