East vs. West: Which Is Better - Ring or The Ring? - Dread Central
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East vs. West: Which Is Better – Ring or The Ring?



Sadako vs Samara

It’s been some time since I revisited Hideo Nakata’s Ring. As memory best served me, it was an intense and far more atmospheric rendition of Gore Verbinski’s American rendition, The Ring. And realistically, that mindset isn’t surprising; remakes rarely meet or surpass the genius or effectiveness of their original source.

But every once in a while a return to a certain film can inspire a completely different assessment of said film.

Case in point: Ring.

Sadako vs Samara

The story is familiar to just about every genre lover out there. The film opens with two teen girls discussing a mysterious video tape that left them dealing with an unsettling sensation. One of the two girls had watched the video with some friends a week prior. Immediately after watching said video, a mysterious phone call came through the lines; and suddenly, life expectancy took an enormous hit.

Seven days after watching the video, all of these kids were dead. Death is sudden and unexplainable… to anyone who doesn’t spot the menacing Sadako crawl from within the television screen to scare video viewers to death, literally.

It’s an interesting story that birthed some of Japan’s most famous modern monsters. And Gore Verbinski very clearly saw the appeal in the film, as he opted to change extremely few details of the story. In fact, The Ring is extremely close to a shot-for-shot remake. There are obvious cultural differences, but this is the very same story.

Time has actually been rather kind to Ring, as it is still a highly regarded, frequently praised film, considered by a great many to be a superior picture to The Ring. But time can distort things, especially our memories.

Ring is no doubt an awesome flick. It’s eerie, it’s well-paced, the concept is superb, and the mystery is ultimately very, very successful in luring viewers into a dark, haunting world. This is all true, but here’s the kicker: Gore Verbinski did it better. You can be angered by that statement, and you’re more than welcome to disagree, but I spent last evening studying both films as meticulously as possible, and Verbinski’s film no doubt packs a much stronger punch.

Take for just a single example the first scene, in which we see the effects of Sadako’s/Samara’s rage. We see a memory/flashback sequence in which one poor mother opens a door and sees her daughter, deceased, a look of mortifying terror etched in her face. In Ring the victim’s face is not modified in the least; it’s just a teenage girl with her eyes rolled into her head and her mouth wide open. In The Ring we get CGI modification, but the CGI isn’t evident. Because the shot is so brief, we simple see a contorted face – a mouth stretched impossibly wide open, her skin a sickly pallor. This scene is widely regarded as one of the greatest jump scares of the last few decades. But in Ring there is very little impact in the scene. It’s slightly creepy, but nothing more, and it doesn’t stand out as a memorable moment in the picture.

Verbinski’s decision to intensify all of the visuals pays huge dividends. And he was smart enough to know to control the visual effects as much as humanly possible. Yes, computers have intensified the scares, but they don’t drown the scenes. These eerie moments that crop up repeatedly throughout the American film remain minimal in enhancement, and that conjures an unspeakable dread because these terrifying sequences still feel possible. The victims, and the villain, don’t look like cartoons gone awry… they look real. Too real for comfort.

Now yes, they also look quite real in Ring, but the lack of modification manages to actually tame the terror. Sometimes, especially when it comes to horror, we want to see the envelope pushed just a bit. Just a hair of enhancement can make a world of difference. And these two films, when essentially viewed side by side, make for a great reminder that sometimes just a little bit more makes a colossal difference.

Ring is a fine film. It’s eerie. It sports a number of disconcerting scenes. But the strained relationship between mother and son doesn’t receive the attention it deserves, and Sadako is ultimately a little flat, when we do see what we see of her.

Now, in the American film the strained relationship between mother and son is superbly pronounced, and we’re left to understand that this young boy basically lives his own life, with little assistance and little parental interaction. That leaves him an uncharacteristically independent young man, and that alone, while not frightening, is extremely uncomfortable. It’s an entirely new wrinkle to the story that goes sorely neglected by Ring. And don’t get me wrong; Ring’s little booger Yôichi is definitely a neglected youngster, but there’s absolutely no comparison to the level of neglect that Aidan experiences in The Ring.

In terms of pacing I think both pictures get it really right. There’s little downtime in either film, and the proper beats are nailed by all involved. The acting is excellent in both pictures, and each features likable and loathsome characters. They

function on very similar planes. The finale is the only other major separator, and it does admittedly get a little tricky.

Gore Verbinski treads dangerous waters with his reveal, as there’s more CGI in this sequence than any other point in the film, and it almost spoils the Samara reveal; she’s dangerously close to looking humorous as opposed to frightening. But dangerously close isn’t the same thing as full-blown overboard. Verbinski pulls back at the very last moment, and we’re left to contemplate an extremely creepy looking entity with a power that no one wants to encounter.

Interestingly enough, Hideo Nakata heads in the opposite direction, showing us next to nothing of Sadako. We see her absurdly long hair disguising her face, the camera zooms in, and then we see one eyeball. And then the movie is over. Some may feel it was a perfectly ambiguous way to close the show, but it feels as though it’s a little bit of a cheat in my mind. We waited nearly two hours to really get a good look at her – give us that look!

I am and always will be a fan of both Ring and The Ring, but the false memories and the myth that Ring is the superior feature has now officially been dispelled. When it comes to the entertainment factor and the fear factor, Gore Verbinski pulls off the near impossible by remaking a great film and turning it into an even greater piece of chilling entertainment.





Exclusive: Talking Movie Theater Subscription Plans With Sinemia Founder Rifat Oguz



Have you heard of a monthly theatrical subscription service called MoviePass? More than likely by this point you have.

But what about Sinemia?

Via their official site, Sinemia is “a private movie club that provides discounted movie ticket subscription plans. Through a combination of easy to use technology and pre-paid debit cards, Sinemia has created an innovative solution for the movie-going experience.”

After announcing its U.S. launch, the high-end movie ticket subscription service was welcomed to the country with a lawsuit from competitor MoviePass.

Recently we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Sinemia’s founder Rifat Oguz, and we talked about the services, the lawsuit, and our favorite movies in general.

Give the interview a look-see below and then let us know what you think!

Dread Central: First off, can you tell us a bit about how Sinemia works and what you offer?

Rifat Oguz: Sinemia offers different plans according to your movie watching frequency. The most popular one is 2 times in a month for $8.99. It’s free 2D or 3D tickets in any theater, for any movie, and includes features like reserved seating, the IMAX-4DX-XD-ScreenX-DBox experience, private screenings and more for one low monthly fee; support for advance ticket purchases and support for third-party ticket processors like Fandango.

DC: Where did the idea for Sinemia begin?

RO: I’ve always been passionate about movies. When I realized there were so many empty seats in movie theaters throughout the world, I decided to change that by developing an idea for a “movie ticket subscription” system.

DC: Sinemia is already leading the market in the United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey, and Australia. Can you talk a bit more about this?

RO: We don’t have any competitors, globally. Our only competitor is in the US. We are trying to create a global system for all the moviegoers on the planet.

DC: Why the move to the U.S.?

RO: Because the heart of the movie market is in the U.S.

DC: How does Sinemia differ from other services such as MoviePass?

RO: Firstly, we don’t track our subscribers or sell their personal data because we don’t need to earn money from data. We have a sustainable financial model. Our subscribers are our clients, not our product. As previously stated, Sinemia offers different plans according to your movie watching frequency.

DC: Speaking of MoviePass, the “rival” company recently filed a lawsuit Sinemia for “using its patented electronic payment technology without authorization.” Care to comment?

RO: MoviePass tries to block us because our sustainable and less restrictive model promises much more to customers and the overall movie market. The reason for their effort is to block serious, true competition.

DC: Where do you see Sinemia in 5 years?

RO: We believe that we’ll be giving service in all 5 continents to millions of movie lovers.

DC: I always end with this question: What’s your favorite scary movie?

RO: The Shining is a classic. But if you’re asking for a more recent movie, I think The Conjuring is my favorite.


Thanks for chatting with us today, Rifat!

For more info on Sinemia, visit the official site RIGHT HERE.


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Brennan Went To Film School

Brennan Went to Film School: These Aren’t Your Daddy’s Strangers



“Brennan Went to Film School” is a column that proves that horror has just as much to say about the world as your average Oscar nominee. Probably more, if we’re being honest.


If you’re a die hard horror fan, you were probably pleasantly surprised when you sat down to watch The Strangers: Prey at Night, the decade-later sequel to Bryan Bertino’s potent little 2008 shocker, and discovered that it was a full-barreled homage to John Carpenter and synth-drizzled 80’s cinema. But once you scratch past the surface, it makes perfect sense why digs up the horror tropes of yesteryear.

You see, the movie is inherently about the war between two generations that has been playing out in the media over the past couple years. You’re probably familiar with the cavalcade of articles about millennials killing everything from the napkin industry to the lottery to Applebee’s. It always happens this way: older generations are frightened by the shifting tastes and perspectives of new generations, and the way a world shaped by them is going to look. It happened with the introduction of video games, rock ‘n roll, and even novels way back in the day.

Now the Internet age has made things especially frightening and unrecognizable. Kids and teens now have access to the broadest spectrum of information in human history, and their attempts to carve out their own identities alongside this rapid increase in social and political awareness have received a lot of pushback from the parents and authority figures in their lives.

The Strangers: Prey at Night is essentially about transposing that generational battle onto a grand, bloody canvas. On the micro scale, there’s the literal reason our family foursome is facing the evil trio of murders: their young daughter Kinsey has “behavioral issues” that frighten her parents, who just don’t understand, so they are sending her off to a boarding school. The trailer park where they’re staying on the way to drop her off becomes the site of their own gruesome demise. “Out of sight, out of mind” is the idea, but what they end up with is “out of time,” as the Strangers rip and slash their way through their faux domestic tranquility.

Which brings us to the macro side of things: The Strangers, along with being a literal dredging up of the past (these particular villains haven’t been onscreen for ten years – time sure flies, doesn’t it?), bring a whole horde of classic horror tropes and stylistic elements with them, from Adrian Johnston’s glorious synthwave score to the neon-splashed coloring to the Texas Chainsaw infused finale. In fact, the lead Baghead villain finds it impossible to kill without an 80’s track blaring on his truck’s stereo. He’s basically Baby Driver’s evil twin. All these elements of older horror films are the exact things being used to torture and terrify the teens in this trailer park.

In two entirely different contexts, the older generation is seeking to hold these kids back and prevent them from being independent, especially Kinsey, who finds herself a particular target for their torment.

But just as past generations always eventually surrender and give way to the new, the siblings in Prey at Night triumph over their attackers. The senseless, random violence that claimed the lives of the victims in the original Strangers is no match for this duo of smarter, more capable protagonists. They are able to unmask, unsettle, and eventually destroy the Strangers without the help of any adult.

It’s no coincidence that Kinsey uses the very symbol of her teen rebellion (a cigarette lighter she uses as a performative way to show just how punk she is) to escape certain death, by igniting a puddle of gasoline under the lead Stranger. The knife-wielding antagonists eventually go the way of Applebee’s thanks to two kids who strove to be more than their now-dead parents and succeeded, though certainly not in a manner any of them could have ever predicted.

Also, if you think about it, The Strangers: Prey at Night is in and of itself a child. It was born from the original film, but it feels completely different from its predecessor. It sees the plot and tone of that film and strikes off in its own new direction. Thus, the generational war plays out on the biggest scale possible for this universe: the very existence of the movie itself.

This constant battle between old and new has an inevitable conclusion, and the people who made The Strangers know it. This is a film for a new generation about a new generation, and the infinitely more connected kids we’re seeing these days are capable of a previously unimaginable strength and solidarity. That’s reflected in the less downbeat ending here, which shows that the new generation has a chance in battling the senseless violence and grim patterns of their parents.

With more understanding and self-actualization, they’re going to create a brand new world that would be unrecognizable to previous generations, though hopefully one that hasn’t forgotten just how awesome Carpenterian synthwave music is.

Brennan Klein is a writer and podcaster who talks horror movies every chance he gets. And when you’re talking to him about something else, he’s probably thinking about horror movies. On his blog, Popcorn Culture, he is running through reviews of every slasher film of the 1980’s, and on his podcast, Scream 101, he and a non-horror nerd co-host tackle horror reviews with a new sub-genre every month!


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The Conjuring 2’s Elvis Scene Should Be Seen By Every Aspiring Filmmaker



What makes a horror movie actually scary? Is it the villains who threaten the lives of the protagonists? Is it the knowledge that anyone could meet his/her demise at any second? Is it the gore and viscera that sprays across the screen? Or is it something else, something deeper?

For me, horror only affects me deeply when I can empathize with what I’m seeing. As an example, it’s the reason that Dr. Gordon’s racking sobs towards the end of Saw caused tears to spring in my own eyes. The fact that we know that his family is safe only amplifies the anguish of the climax. I was begging for him to find some way of finding out what had happened so that he could find some semblance of peace. When he finally grabs the saw, my horror is met in equal measure with a terrifying understanding. This man thinks his family is being killed, so how can I fault him for doing what he’s doing? I can’t blame him or mock his decision, like I can in so many other horror situations. His love for his family, the guilt that encompasses him, it all spills over in a flood of fear, terror, and desperation. To this day, I still find the 3rd act of Saw emotionally difficult to sit through.

So what does this have to do with The Conjuring 2? Well, everything! What director James Wan has done with both films is he’s created a world where we spend time with the characters in ways that build up who they are rather than the situation they’re in. By taking the time to make me care about the characters, I care about what actually happens to them. And no scene in The Conjuring 2 enforces that point more than when Ed spots a guitar and plays Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Here’s the scene I’m talking about:

I’m the kind of person who gets really uncomfortable with “cringe” videos and stories. If a comedy bases its humor on making fun of people rather than situations, I usually will hate it with every fiber of my being. I will pull my hood over my head and cover my eyes while putting my hands on my ears. I’ll do whatever I can to avoid the awkward uncomfortableness of the scene because it makes me feel like my entire body is crawling.

When Ed asks for the guitar, I originally thought, “Oh no, please don’t do this.” I was ready to curl up in the middle of the theater and suffer for the next few minutes. But what happened during that scene was quite possibly the most important part of the entire movie. After seeing the Hodgsons suffer without help and recognizing that each of them was basically at a breaking point, this interlude was a momentary, yet precious reprieve from seemingly unending fear. As an audience member, seeing those children smile and sing along with Ed Warren was, and still is, perhaps the best example of “heartwarming” I can think of.

But what’s more is what else is happening while Ed plays. It’s the sidelong glance he gives Lorraine that is full of love, a look reciprocated by her as we, the audience, see the love that these two have for each other only grow stronger. Because the film takes those few seconds to establish such a strong relationship, the later events are all the more dramatic. When Ed goes into the basement and the door locks behind him, the separation between him and Lorraine is heart-wrenching. Watching her pound on the door while crying his name between tears feels real because the story made it so.

It’s also seeing Peggy Hodgson as she sits behind her children, a huge smile on her face while she watches them sing along with Ed, brushing tears of happiness from her eyes occasionally. For all the struggles and horrors that they’ve endured, her love for her children has never waned and her want for them to have a wonderful, safe life is clearly apparent.

By building such strong relationships between the characters and, in turn, between the characters and the audience, any danger that they encounter feels all the more dramatic and threatening. Were I to not care about these characters, as I don’t in pretty much any Friday the 13th film or Amityville sequel*, then I would never be scared by the film. It’s because of my attachment to those on the screen that I feel terror.

To every aspiring filmmaker, I offer you my one piece of advice that I feel is the most important lesson of all: If you can make me care about your characters, you’ll make me care about your film.

*Not trying to bash these films. Just saying that they are definitely lacking when it comes to character development.


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