Appointment with Samara

Gearing up for Halloween. Finally watched Gore Verbinski’s THE RING, having decided long ago that it was unnecessary to do so, and that the film itself was highly unnecessary. Turns out I was right!

What made me finally want to see it was catching a glimpse on TV and being impressed by what Verbinski does with the scary video bit. The whole film is stylish and atmospheric but the video is GREAT. It’s a real surprise when a lot of the weirdest, most unsettling images turn out to be plot clues.

 

BUT the movie is only scary twice. Once at the start — the opening of Hideo Nakata’s RINGU is the film’s one lame bit, with the freeze framed scream and all that. And the urban myth thing was already old then. But by inventive staging (lots of shots that look like they’re going to pull a corny startle effect — who’s behind the refrigerator door? — but then just leave you hanging — what a big tease!), Verbinski improves on it. Maybe the rest of the film is less scary because it hews so close to the original, only with more horses, which is weird.

The other moment of real anxiety is at the end when it’s not quite clear where things are going after they think they’ve lifted the curse then find out they’re wrong. Which is pretty much what happens in the original, but anyhow it definitely works.

There is some nostalgia value here. A spooky VHS tape. A chunky TV set. Next day photo processing. A heroine who works for a newspaper. A death-spirit who calls you on your land line, not your cell.

What I remember liking about Nakata’s film was the way nearly every edit within a scene, and certainly every scene change, was surprising and disconcerting. Verbinski tries for some of that but maybe he’s handicapped by Hollywood blandness and convention. Samara < Sadako. And the high spot of the original, the spectre crawling from the TV, is kind of spoiled here by intercutting it with a damn CAR CHASE.

I still haven’t seen his CURE FOR ROAD TO WELLVILLE thing or whatever it’s called. Tempted.

Peter Gabriel album cover.

6 Responses to “Appointment with Samara”

  1. John Seal Says:

    A CURE FOR WELLNESS should have been entitled A CURE FOR INSOMNIA or A CURE FOR VIEWERS WHO ENJOY LOGICAL PLOTS. Don’t bother.

  2. It seemed to have lots of nice, expensive shots. But is it scary or disturbing?

  3. John Seal Says:

    Neither. At least, none of it worked for me…yes, it looks great, but that’s about it.

  4. Hmm. If it turns up in a charity shop for 50p I’ll definitely buy it. Then watch it five years later then give it back.

  5. I really enjoyed A Road Cure for Wellingtonia. It’s preposterous – just the sort of bonkers yarn I get a kick out of.

  6. Well, that sounds OK. Of course, it won’t be another Horror Hopital…

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