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The Ring

The pickings are slim for scares this Halloween season (Ghost Ship, Below), so The Ring wins first prize by default. Gore Verbinski’s Hollywood remake of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu — a 1998 cult smash in Japan — creeps you out in high style, even if Nakata did it better. The plot is the same: There’s this cursed videotape (no, it’s not a bootleg of Madonna’s Swept Away). You watch it. The phone rings. A voice says, “Seven days.” That means you have a week to live. Seattle reporter Rachel Keller decides to investigate. Luckily, she’s played by Mulholland Drive sorceress Naomi Watts, who keeps you glued to the screen even when Verbinski (The Mexican, yuck) lets the suspense slacken and screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Arlington Road, no yuck there) gives her nothing to play. Rachel’s weird, Haley Joel Osment-ish son (David Dorfman) and techie boyfriend (Martin Henderson) feel like filler. But the tape itself, featuring a longhaired girl child, is the stuff of nightmares. p>or a real “bad dream” movie, rent the Japanese version. Or hit your video store for other crazy-Freddy Krueger-guru scare-athons: There’s Cronos, from Mexico’s Guillermo del Toro. Or Suspiria, from Italy’s Dario Argento. Or The Vanishing, from Holland’s George Sluizer. Or Black Christmas, from America’s Bob Clark — it’s the least-known and scariest stranger-in-the-house thriller anywhere. Find it. You have seven days.

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