Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This is so daft, it's almost interesting. The coups de grace, however, are the pop video graphics that turn your eyes inside out and make your brain ache.

It has become de rigueur to shoot horror/thrillers in blue/grey light, that might be mistaken for monochrome, with its shivery basement chill. Also, it rains and rains and every location resembles a disused factory. The only warmth is Natascha McElhone's cat.

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The city has no name. It's dark and it's wet, like cities in vampire movies. Dead people start popping up, with bloody noses and chalk-white faces. Terry Huston (McElhone), the local Department of Health inspectress, checks them out and talks of a virus, "a bit like ebola". The cop on the case, Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff), hasn't a clue, but makes it look like he knows what he's doing, which he doesn't.

The virus theory is quickly forgotten, as the script takes a dive into incomprehension. There's a man called The Doctor, who is sending Mike messages. There is a child in a white dress who plays with a big bouncy ball. She's a ghost. You can tell, because her eyes are dead. There is a website that kills you in 48 hours - shades of Ring, with its deadly videotape. There is a blonde who was tortured to death and keeps coming back in flashes, as if trying to communicate. There are naked women, with shocking wounds, and a sweaty man who is knocked down by a subway train.

Two things are clear. If you log onto www.fear.com, you will be driven insane, or die of fright - don't ask how - and be subjected to images of grotesque horror. A woman's voice asks, "Do you want to hurt me?" The Doctor is in there somewhere, killing a terrified girl, and you watch, transfixed. The second clear thing is that puking blood is not a pretty sight and there's too much of it.

The third clear thing, which has no effect on the story, is a dream. In it, you are walking out of the cinema into a sunny place. You don't want to wake up, but you do, and then you notice that The Doctor is played by Stephen Rea, with an American accent, and you know you're mad. You have two hours to live.

Death might be a release.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2003
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Stephen Dorff and Natascha McElhone investigate a website that kills.
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Director: William Malone

Writer: Josephine Coyle

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone, Stephen Rea, Udo Kier, Amelia Curtis, Jeffrey Combs, Nigel Terry, Gesine Cukrowski

Year: 2002

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/Germany/Luxembourg/US


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The Ring