The Ring

Critics Consensus

With little gore and a lot of creepy visuals, The Ring gets under your skin, thanks to director Gore Verbinski's haunting sense of atmosphere and an impassioned performance from Naomi Watts.

71%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 207

48%

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User Ratings: 32,459,459
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Movie Info

A disturbing videotape appears to hold the power of life and death over those who view it in this offbeat thriller. A strange videotape begins making the rounds in a town in the Pacific Northwest; it is full of bizarre and haunting images, and after watching it, many viewers receive a telephone call in which they are warned they will die in seven days. A handful of teenagers who watched the tape while spending a weekend at a cabin in the mountains scoff at the threat, but as predicted, they all die suddenly on the same night. Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), the aunt of one of the ill-fated teens, is a journalist who has decided to investigate the matter and travels West with her young son, Aidan (David Dorfman), a troubled child who has been drawing pictures of strange and ominous visions. Rachel managed to find the cabin in the woods and watches the video herself; afterward, she receives the same phone call, and realizes she must solve the puzzle of the video and the person or persons behind it within a week. Rachel turns to her ex, Noah (Martin Henderson), an expert in video technology, who at first is convinced the story is a hoax until he digs deeper into the mystery. The Ring was adapted from a 1996 Japanese film by Hideo Nakata, which became a massive box-office success in Asia and spawned two sequels. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Ring

All Critics (207) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (146) | Rotten (61)

  • Gore Verbinski creates an air of dread that begins with the first scene and never lets up, subtly incorporating elements from the current wave of Japanese horror films along the way.

    Jul 25, 2014 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Keith Phipps

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • The filmmakers have wisely stayed close to the original's mood, which is somber and flat, with quick (near-subliminal) inserts and a soundtrack full of watery-grave groans and murmurs.

    Jul 25, 2014 | Full Review…

    David Edelstein

    Slate
    Top Critic
  • An edgy, watchable film, but one that makes you feel more squeamish than screamish.

    Jul 25, 2014 | Full Review…
  • The Ring, about a videotape that kills people, is so full of inconsistencies and plot holes that I stumbled from a recent screening with few answers, and a ton of questions.

    Jul 25, 2014
  • Watching The Ring won't kill you, but it could bore you half to death.

    Jul 25, 2014
  • I hated it, but I grant that it does tap into a vein of technological horror -- the fear of the VCR! -- that will have young videophiles chatting it up for weeks.

    Jul 25, 2014 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Ring

  • Feb 04, 2017
    Despite shoddy writing in certain moments, The Ring quickly overcomes it's faults thanks to Gore Verbinski's fantastic and skillful direction, Hans Zimmer's haunting score, and Naomi Watts' great performance, leaving your skin crawling before and after the viewing experience.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2014
    Full of suspense and intrigue, The Ring is a subtle but intense thriller. When a newspaper reporter investigates an underground videotape that supposedly kills you seven days after watching it, she discovers that it's all too true. Featuring Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, and Amber Tamblyn, the casting is pretty good, with one exception (the child actor who plays Watt's son). And while the pacing seems slow, it just makes the thrills that much more intense when they come. Additionally, the investigation of the tape is well-plotted and engrossing. Though American remakes of foreign films have a bad rep, The Ring is an impressive horror film that delivers some bone-chilling terrors.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 29, 2012
    One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in seven days kill them in a pretty messed up fashion, though one that's not quite as messy as you would expect with a director who actually has Gore as his first name. I presume that silly misunderstanding is why the Rotten Tomatoes consensus is so strangely emphatic about there not being a whole lot of gore, but either way, the fact of the matter is that this is no Peter Jackson film, even though I can see how you would make the mistake, not just because this is a breakout film of sorts with "Ring" in the title, but because it features Naomi Watts having to deal with some strange creature with a whole lot of hair. Yeah, this chick seriously needs a haircut, though I'm certainly not gonna tell her that she looks about as hairy as King Kong, not just because I seriously wouldn't want some crazy demon girl to get mad at me, but because she's freaky enough when she's not showing off her messed up face all the time. So yeah, I would have expected the dude who directed "MouseHunt" and "The Mexican" to do as effective of a job as he does with a horror film, and quite frankly, I'm glad, because if "MouseHunt" gave you good idea of how disturbing of a filmmaker Gore Verbinski can get, then we would be looking as some seriously traumatised kids. Shoot, I think Jack Sparrow is too disturbing-looking, and if I thought there was any remote possibility that he would crawl out of the TV, forget about it, I don't care how white I am, I'm not touching that tape. Shoot, it's 2012, I say that like I will touch a video tape in the near future. Well, already dated or not, the fact of the matter is that this chiller is an effective one, and yet, and as tense as this film gets to be, perhaps it is a touch too atmospheric for its own good. Intended to be good old fashion ceaseless tension, the film is immensely atmospheric, and that works about as often, if not more than it doesn't, yet the fact of the matter is that there are occasions where the immense atmosphere doesn't necessarily work, overemphasizing the aura of a situation so much to the point of feeling manipulative, and not just during the scary moments, as too much tension will find itself pumped into areas where no overwhelming intrigue is needed, with quite possibly the biggest "Wait, what?" moment occuring directly after young David Dorfman's Aidan Keller's watching of the tape, when backstory that is known by everyone but the audience and has little impact on the plot to a character relationship is presented as a stinger twist in a fashion that's almost chuckle-worthy. Sure, Gore Verbinski is a good enough director to where the scene in question and others don't come off as too awkward, yet the tonal overbearingness still stands, which isn't to say that the atmosphere has to necessarily be behind something to be problematic. Just the overally meditative dreaminess of the atmosphere proves disengaging, as it dulls things down quite considerably and quite often, and yet, although the film is perhaps at its dullest when quitness is emphasized, it's not like the film is all that much fun when there's nothing to fear. Expostion and one-off dialogue pieces aren't necessarily too boring, because there's still something going on, yet things get to be all too quiet, even when quietness is purposeless, and this, of course, keeps momentum from picking up all that consistently. Dullness is formed often, and with it, dullness' old companion, blandness, which may not be too terribly relentless, yet stands consistent enough to do some damage on the final product. Still, it's not like the film was ever going to have all that much bite in the first place, as its story, while reasonably engaging, is filled with conventions, and is not too much more than simply decent to begin with, and with the story's shortcomings going emphasized by the aforementioned thorough slowness, the promising project sputters out as a bit underwhelming. Of course, the film doesn't fall too far down the well-I mean, the totem pole, because for every fall, there is indeed a rise, in tension that is, with style keeping consistent in its commendable height. Deeply colored, bleakly lit and handsomely defined, Bojan Bazelli's photography may supplement the film's blandness, being dreamy and with color diluted by an overwhelming amount of deep greenish blue, yet still catches your attention with its elegantly dark look, as well as its supplementing the film's bleakness more than the blandness, while something that soley supplements intrigue being, of all things, the editing. Okay, maybe Craig Wood's editing isn't completely innocent as a culprit behind the film's slowness, keeping scenes loose and quiet, yet when things pick up and Wood finds an opportunity to play with some nifty editing tricks, he delivers on neat quick insertions of imagery to keep you alert during the more meditative moments when not making sure that the film's relatively more fast-pace moments keep pumping through slickly stylish quick cuts that supplement the intensity that gives you a reasonably potent sense of intrigue towards the film's mystery aspects and, of course, more major thrills. Yes, people, while the film's ceaseless attempts at intrigue get to be a bit manipulative, or at least just plain exhausting, and by extension, rather fall-flat, more often than not, the film chills and pulls you to the edge of your seat, partially thanks to the cleverly disturbing imagery and, of course, the work of my man Mr. Hans Zimmer, whose work isn't necessarily as terribly sharp as it usually is, yet remains pretty sharp, providing well-composed tunes that, when married with the immersively strong sound design and Gore Verbinski's atmosphere, sinks into the film, as well as your nerves more often than not. The film isn't necessarily as consistently thrilling as it should be, yet it is at least generally chilling, or if nothing else, reasonably compelling, thanks largely to Naomi Watts, who doesn't really have enough to do to carry this film through thick and thin and give the final product the extra push it needs to be truly rewarding, yet delivers on emotional range and a genuine presence of humanity that engrosses you when Watts is at her strongest, which isn't to say that Watts doesn't engage to one degree or another throughout this film. Watts keeps this film going when the film really starts to dip, yet doesn't go backed up with enough to do consistently for her performance, and the film with her, to thoroughly engross, so the performance that does the most in bringing this film close to genuine goodness is the very one that helps in dropping this film to a state of underwhelmingness: the key offscreen one. Director Gore Verbinski doesn't feel too terribly assured in his direction, keeping things either too atmospheric or just too dull, and that is what renders the final product underwhelming, yet at the same time, when Verbinski really wakes up, you join him, because although his atmosphere does get to be too much, much more often than not, it's effective in its clever sobriety which chews at you and keeps you eager to see just what is to happen next. Verbinski does a decent job of absorbing the depth of the story's intrigue, both as something of a mystery drama and as a psychological thriller, and while he does do too good of a job in some areas and not good enough of a job in others, to where the final product falls as quite improvable, Verbinski, with the help of his team of other talents, keeps you going. As the screen fuzzes out, you're left both wanting a little more and a little less, in that you find yourself overwhelmed by the excessive and dulling atmosphere and underwhelmed by too much dull quietness even when there's nothing really going on, thus resulting in the blandness that, alongside the conventions, exposes enough of the limitations within the story for the film to fall flat as underwhelming, yet not to where it doesn't find more than a few occasions in which it picks itself back up, going supported by the striking visual and editing style and nifty score work - courtesy of the great Hans Zimmer - that catch your attention and supplement the intrigue that goes further supplemented by Naomi Watts' compelling performance, and established by Gore Verbinski's having enough atmospheric effectiveness to make "The Ring" an enjoyable chiller, even if its does stand to thrill more. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2012
    There's plenty of supporting thriller, narrative and character to make this relatively understated film really creep up on you and linger in the mind, unpredictable, seriously tense and seriously frightening, though without quite reaching a layer of thematic depth to qualify a place in the hall of horror greats.
    Louis R Super Reviewer

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