Director: Gore Verbinski
Stars: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn, Rachael Bella, Daveigh Chase, Shannon Cochran

Gore Verbinski's The Ring was a gift and curse. First, the curse: Thanks to the success of Verbinski's first-class remake of the 1998 Japanese film Ringu, Hollywood caught the J-horror bug and started cranking out one uninspired remake after another.

The gift, though, outweighs the curse in this case. Starring the always strong Naomi Watts, The Ring is atypically bleak for a Hollywood-made horror film. Watts plays a journalist trying to unravel the mystery that, if ghosts turn out to be real, will kill she and her son in seven days because they've watched a strange VHS tape. The mood starts off oppressively grim, descends into a melancholic downer quality, and, in the scariest use of a television since Poltergeist, ends in an incredibly unhappy fashion.

It's a good thing The Ring was made before Watts became an A-lister and Verbinski's stock rose via those Pirates of the Caribbean movies—there's no way any major studio would sanction a film this thoroughly unpleasant with that kind of actress/director prestige today. —MB