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.