Watched The Ring the other day. Don’t mind admitting, I found it incredibly scary. And yet it contains no violence, no gore... what made it scary was the brilliant script.
Once you get past the first scene, that is, which is incongruously expositional, and has all the hallmarks of a late addition – it includes a character explaining how the video-curse thing works when a) she shouldn’t know this and b) it’s too early for us to know this and c) going by what later happens in the film, her friend should aready be all-too-aware that’s she’s under a curse by this point. Makes me wonder whether this scene was in the original Japanese version. It’s a thing with horror movies that they have to begin with a little vignette, like a short film version of the big film – think of Drew Barrymore’s bit in Scream.
But, from then on, a brilliant script. Not a scene or line wasted. And the effect of such sustained, cumulative, relentless re-iteration of the same disquieting concepts is extraordinary. The invention – and the eventual explanation – is also phenomenal. But there are so many spooky things in this film; the fly, the scribbled-out drawings, the blurred photos, the phone calls, the water... plus everything in that freaky video. Always found them unnerving; you’ll go into a darkened room in the Tate Gallery where you’ll see a montage of badly-shot cod-surrealist nonsense you wouldn’t give five seconds if it was on the telly.
So many spooky things, but all tied together beautifully. Like all great ghost stories, it’s not about jets of blood or shock tactics but about burrowing away into the firmament of suppressed anxieties; of finding yourself in a universe working by another set of malicious, arbitrary and unknowable rules. That’s what’s really scary.