2002 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

The US remake of Japanese horror smash Ringu tells the story of a cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it within seven days. Naomi Watts is the single mother who regrets not monitoring her young son's TV viewing more closely as director Gore Verbinski captures the mystery and nerve-shredding essence of the original. You'll be glad you upgraded to DVD.

Director

  • Gore Verbinski

Cast

  • Naomi Watts

  • Martin Henderson

  • Brian Cox

  • David Dorfman

  • Daveigh Chase

Review

A video cassette apparently doing the rounds with the local Seattle youth has rather catastrophic effects - it saps life itself.

According to urban legend, the tape in question ends with a phone call and the whispered message - "seven days..." A week later you've popped it.

Investigative reporter and mother-of-one Rachel Keller (Watts) hears about the deadly video while attending the wake of her 16-year-old niece.

Tracing the girl's last movements, Rachel winds up at a chalet complex in the mountains where she gets hold of the killer VHS.

Sure enough, once she's watched it - a blurred black and white kaleidoscope of disturbing images - the phone goes... and guess what?

Enlisting the help of ex-boyfriend Noah (Henderson), she starts picking away at the background to the mysterious tape... but her fate is on fast-forward.

Hideo Nakata's version was an under-powered but chillingly spare psycho-horror yarn, while director Verbinski (Mouse Hunt) fills out detail only hinted at in the original.

As a result, the more incidents that are added to the mix, the more it teeters over the brink from menace into melodrama.

That said, it still packs a psychological punch, featuring competent performances and employing muted tones to carefully build-up the atmosphere.

Light years ahead of the half-cocked horror coming out of Hollywood, the mounting dread provides the requisite amount of chair-jolting shocks.

It's also an eerily persuasive argument for trading up from a VCR to a DVD.

Tim Evans