The Last Thing You See Before I Kill You Will Be...

THE RING

Reviewed by Matt Brown
November 5th, 2002


The Sons of Seven have struck again. Yet another moody thriller where it rains constantly, a torrential downpour threatening to wash a diseased society off the face of the earth. The Ring is less a film in its own right than the latest installment in the ongoing effort to prove that music video imagery can work on the big screen. And if that thesis were even slightly provable, maybe we'd have something here.

There are exactly two sequences in The Ring that actually gave me a sense of the willikers. One involves a transubstantiating fly, and the other a berserker digital horse. For the rest of the time we're locked in humdrum psychodrama, as an obsessive mother (Naomi Watts) does her best to solve the riddle of a videotape which, supposedly, kills everyone who sees it.

While one can certainly admire the enthusiasm of the technophobia in this and other similar films (Fear Dot Com, of course, must spring to mind), the significant problem here is that at no point does the film specifically answer why that stupid videotape has murderous powers. Beyond that, there's an admittedly well-executed little mystery story involving a young girl and her evil parents, but how that evolves into sociopathic VHS is frankly beyond me. Besides the fact that VHS sucks generally.

This film reveals a few things I never knew - like, for example, that there's a whole other frame of video beside each frame of video, which can be accessed with ultra-high-quality video equipment. Or, maximum-security mental institutions often have their patient files stored in old wooden basements that can be easily accessed with the use of a crowbar.

Back to Seven: David Fincher is the first to admit he made Seven out of love for The Silence of the Lambs, but he had the sense to make his own really good serial killer movie, rather than rip off the parental work. Unfortunately, Seven's stylistic swath was so wide, everybody since has tried to jump in. Well, give up on it: it's tired, it's old, and it's starting to make the original look silly. And that just can't happen.