we saw “the ring”:  2.5 stars

Elvis Mitchell, writing in the New York Times, panned it in Don't Touch 'Play'! It Could Be Fatal. Robert Ebert gave it two stars: "Rarely has a more serious effort produced a less serious result than in "The Ring," the kind of dread dark horror film where you better hope nobody in the audience snickers, because the film teeters right on the edge of the ridiculous." However, real people rate it much higher: it gets 4.5 stars on Amazon.com and 8 out of 10 in the Internet Movie Database

The RingLast night, right after the movie, I would've rated it three out of four stars. It really creeped me out - the way a good ghost story should. Today, maybe 2.5 stars. There were a lot of things that just didn't work in this movie. I don't think it is as bad as Mitchell's as-usual-pretentious review makes it out to be, or as without redeeming features as Ebert says it is, but it's not anywhere near as good as The Others or The Devil's Backbone, or The Sixth Sense, three other ghost stories that I rate four (out of four) stars each.

There's one scene in The Ring in particular, a spectacular scene of a horse run amok on a ferry, that was ruined for me because what led up to it was stupid -- Rachel, the "heroine," tries to pet a horse. The horse tries to bite her. She tries again. The horse gets even more agitated and dangerous. Does she walk away? Of course not, she tries AGAIN AND AGAIN ... very stupid scene.

Our Heroine's um, sidekick? Name of Noah, father of her child Aidan, video geek ... lousy, lousy actor. Just awful. Played by Martin Henderson, of no particular claim to fame.

Which leads to another implausible scene: the records office at the loony bin. There is no way a hospital, public or private, is going to store patient records that haphazardly, especially records that are not even 25 years old. Doesn't happen.

But the movie is dark and scary and interesting to look at. Ebert and Mitchell claim the characters are cold, particularly Our Heroine. They are, but why would this detract from the movie when the characters are not at all atypical of the current crop of self-absorbed 20-somethings? I didn't care if Rachel, or her son, or Noah died or not since I didn't particularly like them as people (not even the son, who is a creepy as the ghost, in his own way). I just didn't want anyone to die until the mystery was solved. This movie doesn't cheat - it's billed as a horror flick and it is - though more horrifying than horror. No cliche ending, either. Nope, it's all set up for Ring 2 and maybe even Ring 3. Just like the Japanese version.

The best, very best, ghost story/horror story I ever saw, one that terrified me without showing an ounce of blood or a glimpse of gore, is still The Woman in Black. That's my gold standard. I keep waiting for one as good to come along. Any suggestions?
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