TV can kill you.

By Gus Bode

I’m surprised this issue hasn’t already come up, but I’m happy to see that the ever-socially conscious folks in Hollywood have finally chosen to address it.

After all, we’ve seen all the other evils of the boob tube cast over society. Kids shooting kids. Obese housewifes sitting around, watching endless soap operas and ravenously reading O Magazine. Johnny Knoxvillle. Johnny Knoxville with a regular series. Nick at Nite. Shampoo commercials.

Previews for movies starring Johnny Knoxville.


You get the point.

But now, as the folks behind this year’s mantelpiece Halloween flick “The Ring” will have us know, TV kills us, and not just by rotting the mind and causing us to become the size and general shape of humvees.

Psychotic dead girls now use it to cast spells and wreak vengeance on the living, which, despite being more entertaining than any soap opera I’ve ever seen on TV, still amounts to a problem. Satan, apparently, has his own television band now. I guess this means Regis has a job again.

But this aside, “The Ring” has a fun premise to it. You might confuse it for a meaningful one. Don’t. Despite being a wildly entertaining, sincerely chilling movie, it ends up getting lost in its own premise by attempting to be a greatest-hits compilation of horror movies, from the everyone’s-dying-from-weird-and-twisted-serial-killer element to the cute “Sixth Sense” element of including a kid who mysteriously knows everything because he’s young and can still respectably wear overalls.

Regardless, it makes for a good Halloween flick.

Based off of Japan’s No. 1-grossing film, “Ringu,” “The Ring” spins off like this:A female journalist (Naomi Watts of “Mulholland Drive”) comes across a videotape with a bizarre history of killing people exactly seven days after they watch it. How does it do this, you ask?

Mostly with a collage of images that seem to be taken from Pink Floyd album covers, along with a disturbing phone call that comes immediately after confirming that, indeed, you could have just sat and watched that shampoo commercial.


But, against the laws of what would seem to be common sense, Naomi watches the tape, shows her ex-husband the tape (a nice way of getting back at someone, I suppose), and soon unleashes this plague on most of the people she knows. Being the resourceful reporter she is, she launches into an investigation of the lives the tape has reputedly already claimed and the circumstances surrounding its origin, most of her success coming in the form of newspaper obituaries and morbid pictures being drawn by her son, who, as mentioned earlier, mysteriously knows everything.

What she finds launches her into a satisfying whodunit tale that leads her to creepy homes, psychological wards, on boats and against angry horses. All in all, a fun little romp. As confusing and eventually meaningless as the plot becomes, “The Ring” serves as an extraordinary exercise in how to produce a technically excellent movie. The acting is all tops. The visuals are creepy. The cinematography is all effective and subtle, the editing is sharp, and the score, penned by veteran Hans Zimmer, fits well into the scene.

But regardless, it’s all Hollywood lip gloss. The plot, despite presenting chills aplenty and a back story with creepy potential, rests on its laurels a bit too often and doesn’t seem to notice when a few plot holes manage to sneak in. In addition, it never knows when it is time to end; indeed, had it ended 15 minutes sooner, exactly the way it is, it might just be a horror classic-to-be.

But, no such luck.

“The Ring” would like to be a complex horror-drama.

At times, it almost is.

The rest of the time, though, it’s just a good way to cast the similarly-plotted “fear dot com” from memory and watch a real horror film un-spool in true creepy manner.

It’s not enough to really kill anyone.

But in the end, there probably isn’t anything better on to watch anyway.