They keep trying, but still directors and producers across the globe fail to see why The Haunting is the best flick in the genre ever made . . . and if you really are dumb enough to ask, I'm talking about the original. Based on Shirley Jackson's novel (which in itself, isn't really that great), it lazily makes its way to the end, letting your mind wander to make what it will of the sound and vision you see before you. It is the absolute master of the game.
The Blair Witch Project had the spirit but not the delivery. My Little Eye was another valiant attempt, and honestly speaking, that's about all I can say about The Ring.
Essentially a remake of Hideo Nakata's cult horror flick Ringu, The Ring tries hard in all the right places. To be fair, it comes close - damn close - but as with all things cinematically American these days, it insists on colouring in all the spaces just in case our imaginations let us down at the vital moment.
Opening with two teenage girls (natch) discussing an urban myth about a video that kills you after you watch it, the film quickly moves into it's prime, doing a cracking job of scaring the holy crap out of people who need to get out more. Enter Naomi Watts, who after this excellent performance (and Mulholland Drive), has assured herself scores of scripts on the doormat and a very bright future.
Watts plays investigative reporter Rachel Keller who, after some worthy character building, ends up watching the film for herself. Gore Verbinski (The Mexican) has done a good job of delivering moody and atmospheric in all the right places, but I can live without some of the 'art school film project' scenes that lurk amongst the cinematography.
Also creditable are Martin Henderson - as Rachel's ex, Noah - who puts in an excellent performance, and David Dorfman who plays Aidan, Rachels' son. To tag him with comparisons to other 'child' actors would be to slur a great future - he's far better than that.
Nakata's original realised that this type of flick is hard to make properly and injected some very cool moments, knowing full well that the mind can do half the work for you. Verbinski has made the film work hard for him, and although it is very good, it hasn't got the X factor it needs to go the distance.
It is neither gore, horror, mystery or thriller, and wants to be all things to all people. I'm sorry, but you just can't do that . . . and what's with the 15 certificate? Cynically, I can't help feeling that we're just being set up for the inevitable sequel and dread even the mention of one.
At the end of the day, The Ring is enjoyable - you won't be that disappointed - and the now infamous 'horse sequence' is excellent. But if you are an experienced cinema-goer, the feeling that there was something missing will haunt you far longer than the movie itself. Valiant attempts are getting less and less worth your and my time and I'm not sure how much longer we can all go on waiting for someone to deliver.
:: Sion Smith