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     " I would have opted to see an earlier screening so that the last images dancing through my head as I tried to sleep weren't of this movie. "

      Title: The Ring by Dreamworks

      Format: Feature Film-Psychological Thriller

      Reviewing Monkey: EEGAH!

      The Hype: If you're not already familiar with the hype surrounding The Ring then you don't exist. If you can bring yourself to ignore the fact that it is a re-imagining of the most wildly popular film in Japan's history as well as the fact that that particular feat was recorded only five years ago then you're in for the most chilling, suspenseful thrill ride since The Sixth Sense, The Others, and Session 9.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Story and Acting: Rachael (Naomi Watts) begins investigating into the strange circumstances surrounding the death of her niece, namely the existence of a video cassette whose contents are rumored to kill you if you watch it, which the girl had viewed only seven days prior. Naturally, the cassette becomes the focal point of Rachael's investigation.
          After locating a copy of the tape (whose subject matter looks suspiciously like a Nine Inch Nails video), Rachael's curiosity takes over and she pops it in only to receive "the call" telling her that she only had seven days to live from that point. She plays the tape again for her skeptical ex boyfriend Noah (Gee, thanks hon) and as all of the symptoms of their impending deaths mount the rest of her research becomes less a matter of uncovering the events of her niece's death and more a desperate race to save her own life. This case becomes even more poignant after her young son Aiden (who looks like a zombie extra from Carnival of Souls) watches the tape and receives his "call".
          What follows is the strangest chain of events since David Lynch dared to ask the question "Who Killed Laura Palmer". Their quest takes them from one creepy location to another and then back again as all the dots must be connected in seven days time. And just when the puzzle appears to be completed, things take an unexpected and ugly turn. And isn't that just like those whacky unseen forces of evil...always doing things ugly and unexpected.
          On the subject of acting: subdued would be the operative word. Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson were excellent together and conveyed their reactions to their stimuli flawlessly. Daveigh Chase as the precocious little bundle of unmitigated evil, Samara, was spectacular also and unnerving as hell- if I may say so. 5 out of 5

      Action: Not much of this going on. This is really more of dialog and plot driven movie with most of the action taking place in the audience in response to it few heart stopping scares. I know from my personal experience that my heart got quite the workout.

      Visuals and Directing: Visually speaking, The Ring was the most chillingly atmospheric movie that I've seen outside of David Lynch's canon. The moody lighting, locations, even the weather seemed to play a role in the film.
          The locations, as mentioned above, are spectacular as director Gore Verbinski showcases every frightening locale imaginable. I'm not about to vouch for the rest of the films that make up the body of Verbinski's work (chief among those, The Mexican) but here he really shines. His cast seems to be well aware of their motivation (duh! young girl that makes Linda Blair from The Exorcist look like frickin' Little Lord Fauntleroy. You figure it out) and all play nicely off one another. All the signs, though, seem to suggest that this will be Verbinski's Citizen Kane. So good that he will spend the rest of his career trying to equal it or lamenting critics constantly using it as the standard by which to measure his work. 4 out of 5

      Sound Track: I don't remember any music as such except for the sound of the tape when it was being played. Regardless, it was scary as hell and I'd buy it if I could find it anywhere. 3 out of 5

      Value vs. Admission: Well worth full price or matinee in my humble estimation. Having it to do over again, though, I would have opted to see an earlier screening so that the last images dancing through my head as I tried to sleep weren't of this movie. Maybe one of you reading this will heed my warning. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       This movie really does have it all- especially for a horror flick. There's great performances from the entire cast with a special emphasis on the chemistry between Watts and Martin Henderson as Noah. It's fraught with genuinely tense moments that should have you on the edge of your seat for long stretches at a time (unless of course you're some kind of freakin' android. Or Sarah Michelle Gellar. But I digress). All in all a very taut and suspenseful thriller.

      The Good: Unlike a lot of its predecessors, The Ring doesn't rely on cheap thrills. The filmmakers are guilty of a cheap pop only once but the image was haunting enough that it could have stood alone and been just as effective.

      The Bad: Some people may perceive the carefully unfolding plot and gradual character development as boring.

      The Overall Ugly: This may be the ONE movie in history to live up to its hype.

      What it's Worth: Well, I can't really abet paying seven or more dollars for a movie, it is nonetheless what I paid and I by no means feel like I was taken advantage of. That is as close to an endorsement of full price as you'll get from me.

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