ans of the Naomi Watts horror film "The
Ring" may be surprise to learn that the US remake wasn't the first
attempt at redoing the story. It was remade in South Korea in 1999, beating Gore
Verbinski's remake by 3 years. While not as good as the original film, the
Korean version is still an effective ghost story for the video age.
When the niece of a journalist dies under mysterious
circumstances, the journalist undertakes an investigation to discover the truth
about what really happened. She learns of an urban legend about a cursed
videotape that causes you to die seven days after viewing it. After she watches
the tape, the reporter finds out the hard way that the legend is frighteningly
true. Teaming with an eccentric doctor, she must solve the tape's puzzle or
perish in seven days.
Eun-kyung Shin ("My
Wife is a Gangster") is perfectly cast as the cursed journalist
racing against time. Not only is the character attractive, she's also strong,
highly intelligent and courageous. Definitely someone you'd want on your side
with a deadly video circulating about. Jin-yeong Jeong ("Wild Card") plays Dr. Choi, the local coroner/possible
love interest, with the right amount of endearing weirdness. But Choi is
insightful enough to realize there might be a supernatural explanation for all
the goings on, and dogged enough to pursue the angle when most would dismiss the
theory as crazy.
"The Ring Virus" has atmosphere and style in
spades, thanks to the direction of Dong-bin Kim. He gives the film a peculiar
and at times ethereal sense that differs from the numerous other versions. As a
writer, Kim's script is different from the other versions as well, but it
nevertheless retains the storyline that made the original film so popular. The
musical score by Il Won is noticeably sparse, relying more on ambient noise to
create the spooky mood instead of synthesizers or orchestra pieces.
The main problem with the film isn't the fault of the filmmakers at all. The
original "The Ring" is originally based on a novel by Koji Suzuki,
which has since spawned a graphic novel, a film, two sequels ("Ring 2" and "Ring
0: Birthday"), a spin-off film ("Ring: Spiral"), a
television film in Japan, this remake, a US remake, an upcoming U.S. sequel, and
not to mention a wicked parody in "Scary
Movie 3". Essentially, it's a story too often told and there's
only so many different ways you can tell it and still keep it fresh.
"The Ring Virus" is well done, with good
performances by its main performers. It is an effort worthy of "The
Ring" moniker and fans of the films and books will enjoy this retelling.
The only thing that hampers the film somewhat is that the story's been told so
often it really has no surprises left to offer. That's not the fault of this
production, which relates the tale as well as any other medium. But it's
probably time to declare a moratorium on anything to do with "The
Ring", before the idea gets overdone into mediocrity.