This week:
The Ring

Filthy says:
"Booo! And I don't mean the scary kind."

Man, oh, man, the Ring is a snow job. It's eerie, sure, but like a Mazda commercial with that creepy "zoom zoom" kid that goes on too long. The makers were more interested in telling us the movie is spooky than actually making it spooky. It's got style, the same way a Gucci handbag bought in Tijuana does: it's an imitation that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

The dream team of hack director Gore Verbinski (The Mexican and Mouse Hunt) and hack writer Ehren Kruger (Reindeer Games [fuck you, Kruger] and Scream 3) have adapted a Japanese hit horror movie and you can bet your ass some pretentious fuck will go out of his way to tell you the original was "so much better." I can't imagine the original being worse, but the assholes aren't telling you for your good, they're telling you in order to make themselves sound like a fucking know-it-all.

In horror movies, it's always a bad idea when the characters are more scared than the audience. We're supposed to know that bad shit's going down first, and then anticipate when it's going to happen. We say "No, don't go in that room! Stay here and take off your blouse!" In the Ring, the characters are scared shitless for 90 of its belabored 115 minutes, horrified at stuff that just isn't scary. People in the audience were laughing at the wrong moments. In this version, our hack filmmakers use expensive lighting and locales to say "Look, oooo, isn't that frightening, kids! Boo! Look how scared Naomi Watts is. Aren't you scared at how scared she is?" The answer is mostly no.

The Ring's first scene sets the tone for the movie. It's a crappy leftover from the Scream series, with two teen girls alone in a house telling scary stories, and one dead before the opening credits. This scene tells us first that Kruger and Verbinski are so lame they can't even come up with an original opening. The scene's absurd seriousness and drawn out pace also tell us Kruger and Verbinski think they're pooping out some classy shit. This is not a tacky horror film, this is a big important movie! Problem is, these guys are too big of hacks to pull off anything else.

The dead girl watched a tape that promises you'll be dead seven days after viewing it. Naomi Watts is a journalist and the girl's Aunt; she takes on the case and tries to solve the tape's mystery. She watches the tape, and so does the audience. It's pretty fucking lame, like something kindergartner's would make if Luis Buñuel were their teacher. Mostly, Verbinski is trying hard to make Un Chien Andalou, and rather than creep me out it just made me think about Salvador Dali's mustache and slicing eyeballs. Then I thought about the Pixies. Isn't that song "Hey" awesome?

Using her investigative journalist skills, Watts uses her seven days to figure out what is on the videotape. Me. Personally, I'd rob a bank and then I'd shoot Paul O'Neill in the kneecaps for being so Goddamn annoying, but that would be a different movie and you wouldn't get to see Watts' perky nipples poking through a wet shirt. Watts wants to identify the tape's people and the places and make sense of it. She doesn't ask "How does this tape kill people?" or "How can I keep from dying?" Instead she says, "Hey, I wonder who that lady in the mirror is." We are dragged like toilet paper stuck to her shoe through a tedious mystery for 90 bloodless minutes. We know she's not dying for week, but we have to watch all seven days. Really, the effect of the movie could be simulated by randomly splicing scenes of maggots crawling all over a body into an episode of "Murder, She Wrote."

Before long, she exposes the tape to her ex-husband (Martin Henderson) and her moody son who can talk to the dead (David Dorfman doing a very bad Haley Joel Osment). And guess what; near-death is a unifying experience. Kruger and Verbinski thought we'd be pleased to see the mystery reunite Watts and her ex. No, you fucking idiots! I'd be pleased to see their heads get ripped off. I'd be pleased to see them wrapped up in something bigger than they are. But all I got was a contrived mystery, and two sleuths who never even get stumped. They just plow through the clues and come to the conclusion. At least put them in some danger that's more original and terrifying than a pissed off old man holding a baling hook.

The Ring spends more time playing Scooby Doo than it does building tension. Most of the problem is that the mystery is so fucking confusing that it's hard to care. Only the screenwriter could solve this mystery because he contrived it. We don't get to play along; we just follow, and Verbinski thinks the fun is in us sitting there saying "What the fuck?"

The ending is absolutely ridiculous. By trying to explain every last fucking detail, Kruger and Verbinski make the whole thing collapse under the impossibility and ridiculousness. The movie is about a videotape that kills people, folks. If the audience is willing to buy a premise that silly, don't oversell it. But no, they just keep piling on the explanations for everything, and each of them opens two or three more questions. It's like a bad lie, and the liars keep telling more to cover the first one. The funny thing is that not one of the long-winded and drawn-out explanations explains the only thing I cared about: how does watching a videotape kill people? We learn all about a little girl, some crazy horses and a barn, but nothing about how anyone has the psychic powers to kill. And that's because nobody involved knows. it's a B-movie concept given the A-movie treatment.

And end the fucking thing already. Christ, this movie has so many false endings it's like the Harelip when she's drowsy and she keeps falling asleep, only to jerk upright and tell more story. "And then I went and kcked him in the balls...zzzzz...but he got mad and told me to get off his property...zzzz...so I says, I says 'fuck you, you aren't my boss...zzz..." It gets old fast. They solve the mystery, nobody will die. No, wait! Someone does die! Now it's a new mystery: how do the other tapewatchers keep from dying?

The answer is multi-level marketing. The eding suggests a bleak future where only those who can network and recruit will survive. And in time, only Amyway and Herbalife representatives will remain. Finally something scary. Two Fingers for The Ring.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
J. M. Barrie - Peter Pan

Listening to
Ted Hawkins - Happy Hour


Jim Ferguson of Fox TV

Abandon is "A who-done-it with a great twist!"

In The Knockaround Guys, "Dennis Hopper and John Malkovich are unbeatable!"


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