A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Ring is a 2002 remake of a Japanese film that is very, very scary. Four people and a horse die on-screen, with the potential for many more untimely demises throughout. The soundtrack is filled with the spitting of unending Seattle rain, echoing orchestral strains of doom and loud and relentless guttural sound effects, all adding to the scariness. A dead girl's face decomposes in a few seconds. Water seeps out of nowhere. Handprints appear and then disappear just as mysteriously. Blood is seen in the water. Several people have spontaneous nosebleeds. A man kills himself using electric cords and an overflowing bath tub. A dead girl is found wearing an expression of horror. A woman tumbles down a deep well, where she discovers a girl's dead body. On television, in a grainy black-and-white video, a long-dead girl emerges from a well looking gray and menacing, then climbs out of the TV set and causes the frightening death of an innocent man. A woman throws a bag over her daughter's head and tosses her down a well. Profanity includes "s--t," "prick," "bitch," and "damn."
What's the story?
In THE RING, a remake of a Japanese horror film based on a series of books, urban legend meets scary movie reality when four teens die, as predicted, exactly seven days to the minute from when they watched an unmarked video in a remote mountain cabin. Rachel (Naomi Watts), the aunt of one of the teenagers, is a savvy and skeptical journalist whose curiosity is sparked by tales of the tape. After finding and watching the source of the mystery, she receives a phone call announcing that she has seven days to live. From there, it is a race to solve the clues and answer the riddle of the video, with the stakes greatly raised when two of the people closest to her, including her young son, watch the deadly tape.
Is it any good?
Director Gore Verbinski does an excellent job of letting our imaginations find portent and peril in the most mundane of actions, such as picking up groceries at the local corner store. Watts is a relief as she plays through the gamut of Rachel's emotions with truly credible, but not overwrought, gusto. While the adults are busy solving the riddle of the tape, the heart-stopping pair of the Ring's children usher in the deeper dimension of fear. Rachel's son, Aiden (a stony-eyed David Dorfman), is the medium and interpreter for the terrifying Samara (Daveigh Chase), who is at the heart of the mystery.
The Ring dips deep in the well of oft-used scary images, which paradoxically results in a movie that is both architecturally firm but, with little new to add, empty of true revelation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the decision that Rachel makes at the end of The Ring and the ramifications of her actions. Did she make the right decision? Why, or why not?
Discuss the way that different characters deal with the untimely death of a loved one.
For fans who have seen the original Japanese tale, how does this movie compare? If you have seen the sequels, how does this one stack up?
What is the appeal of scary movies?
- In theaters: October 18, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: March 4, 2003
- Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Martin Henderson, Naomi Watts
- Director: Gore Verbinski
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, disturbing images, language and some drug references
For kids who love to be scared
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.