It was either this or Fifty Shades Darker when I drove up to Tweed the other day – a no-brainer if ever there was one. This is the third offshoot spawned by Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s 1998 Ring, a schlock horror flick that is fast (and justifiably, IMHO) attaining cult status. The latest is neither a remake nor a sequel, but rather it is a creepy teen romance/mystery that borrows all of the tropes and motifs of the original, even to the point of using the short B/W video that causes all the trouble. Grainy and surreal, like something that might have been concocted by Man Ray or Jean Cocteau, the video culminates with a girl, whose face is entirely covered by wet black hair, emerging horridly from a stone well. Those who view it are immediately telephoned and told by a faint voice that they have seven days to live. The only way that they can avoid this fate is if they in turn find somebody else to watch it (a ‘tail’, as that new victim is referred to here). It is a fascinating moral dilemma – would you knowingly pass on the curse to another innocent victim? How desperately do the dying envy the living? Cute Julia (Matilda Lutz) and her boyfriend, even cuter Holt (Alex Roe), have come under the influence of a college professor (Johnny Galecki), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jack Black and is working on proving that there is an afterlife. Eventually, the kids track down a blind priest in a spooky house who might have something to do with a girl who disappeared years ago. The atmos is thick with a typically heavy-handed soundtrack (never inappropriate, however, in this genre) and poor Julia does more panting than I’ve heard since Nicole Kidman was being stalked by Billy Zane on that yacht in Dead Calm. The effects work a treat because they are not overdone and if the denouement is flagged early it is genuinely suspenseful, with a classic ‘more to follow’ postscript. I enjoyed it heaps.
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