Film Review: 'The Ring' offers flashy special effects but little substance

    OK, so the horror genre isn’t exactly the most serious set of films out there, but when your looking to be scared witless, you’re not expecting to have thought-provoking dialogue carried by meaningful acting. Then again, you do tend to expect an entertaining story and freaky happenings to surprise you at every turn. Thus, with the background of “”The Ring,”” a remake of the most popular Japanese horror film ever, something fierce is conjured in the scary department. Yet in typical remake format, what this version does best is make you wonder what the original had that the new one doesn’t.

    Yes, there are plenty of really scary scenes that try to get you to jump out of your skin, but most of the time the tension is built on the old “”go in to the house alone after the creepy old guy told you not to.”” This is the kind of thing that is absolutely aggravating about horror-movie plots. The filmmakers seem to have gone to great lengths to separate the main characters; Rachel (Naomi Watts, “”Mulholland Drive””) teases movie karma when she sends Noah (Martin Henderson), the only other person who understands the bizarre killings, away when she decides to break into a mysterious old house.

    In particular, the striking similarities to the recent and less than noteworthy “”Fear dot com”” were annoyingly frequent. Both require the potential victim to view a piece of media (here, an evil tape), which results in a specific period of time before the viewer dies. During this time, hallucinations commence, which are followed by bloody noses.

    When the plot begins to thin, there were flashy visual effects to distract the discriminating viewer. Victims of an undead girl killer appear as if they have drowned, which leaves their skin blotchy and green: Probably not a movie to see before dinner.

    Unlike the typical horror movie, which attempts to neatly wrap up the ending in complete understanding, “”The Ring”” manages to leave a very open but somewhat lame ending. In the end, if scary movies are your thing, then by all means, you’ll enjoy; but if you have trouble with the obviously stupid mistakes that characters are obliged to make, then pass on to less-formulated features.

    The Ring

    ***

    Starring Naiomi Watts and Martin Henderson

    In theaters Oct. 18

    Rated R

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