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Before you die, you read my review of

The Ring (PG-13)
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This came out in 2002, but I didn't see it until 2014. It's an American remake of the 1998 Japanese movie "Ringu," which I'm fairly sure I never saw. (The original movie was based on a 1991 Japanese novel, which I've certainly never read.) I guess this was the first in what became a trend throughout the Aughts of American remakes of J-horror movies.

It starts with two high school girls, Katie (Amber Tamblyn) and Becca, having a sleepover. Just for fun, Becca tells a story that's apparently been going around, about a video tape. You watch it, then get a phone call telling you you'll die in seven days. And seven days later, you die. Katie acts freaked out, because she says that one week ago, she and a group of friends had been at a mountain cabin, where they watched a tape like the one Becca described, and then got a phone call, just like in the story. At first it seems like Katie's joking around, but it's not too long before creepy stuff actually starts happening, and she is literally scared to death. After the incident, Becca ends up in a mental hospital.

Katie had a younger cousin named Aidan, with whom she was apparently close. He's having trouble dealing with her death, but we also learn that she had told him she was going to die. Meanwhile, Katie's mother asks her sister Rachel (Aidan's mother and Katie's aunt, played by Naomi Watts), who is an investigative journalist, to look into Katie's death, since the doctors were unable to explain what actually happened. Rachel soon learns about the story about the video tape, and finds out where Katie and her friends had been when they watched it. She goes to the cabin, finds the tape, and watches it herself. Then she gets a phone call saying "seven days." She continues investigating (with a very literal deadline), with help from her friend Noah, who... works with video and stuff, so he should be able to tell her about the origins of the tape. Or whatever. But he can't, because... there's some technical thing about it that shouldn't be possible. (As far as I can tell, the movie never truly explains the origin of the tape.) But in the course of their investigations, Rachel and Noah learn about a woman who had gone insane years ago, and about her adopted daughter, Samara (Daveigh Chase), who had died years ago. (I gotta say, I think the girl's name is pretty apt.) And apparently Samara is the one who's responsible for everything that's going on.

I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, but I will say that I did find the movie genuinely creepy and atmospheric. There were some things that I really don't think made sense, but I can't explain that without spoiling things I don't want to spoil. Except to say that one of the creepy moments near the end... implies that the characters made a mistake, but I hardly see why it was a mistake, because I can't imagine that things would have gone any differently whatsoever if they hadn't done what they did. Honestly, I don't think there's anything they could have done differently (though I'm sure Sam and Dean could have). And um... probably the most truly scary thing about the film is what happens at the very end, even though it's not really creepy... what's scary is what it says about human nature, I guess. But hey, that's not the kind of scary that this movie is about. What I like about it are the actual creepy-scary bits. And the fact that Rachel and Noah aren't complete idiots, as people in this kind of movie often are. So, in spite of a few things that I still don't get, in general I think the movie itself was more intelligent than you might expect.

There's a sequel, but I'm not sure if I'll ever see it.

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