Naomi Watts, Daveigh Chase, ...
Credit: The Ring: Merrick Morton

With this $60 million psycho thriller, critics’ darling Naomi Watts wanders down a path as twisted as ”Mulholland Drive.” Based upon the first in a series of novels by Suzuki Koji and its 1998 cult-film adaptation — which broke box office records in Japan — ”The Ring” finds Watts playing a reporter who learns her niece’s death may have been caused by a cursed videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they’ve watched it. ”It’s a parable on the forbidden,” says writer Ehren Kruger (”Arlington Road,” ”Scream 3”). ”If the next new fix were out there and you could be the first on your block to see it — with the tradeoff being that it would kill you — I would imagine a segment of the audience out there is just bored enough with everything else that they would check it out.”

But what, exactly, is on this mysterious tape? Kruger (who rewrote the script by ”Minority Report”’s Scott Frank) isn’t saying. Still, he promises that audiences will see it in its entirety (let’s hope the curse doesn’t work, or getting repeat business could be tough), and judging from the fleeting images in the trailer — stark trees, an eclipse, lots of static — ”The Ring” appears to have a spookiness not unlike ”The Blair Witch Project”’s. ”It’s tense,” says Kruger, ”and there’s a sense of doom and foreboding. In that respect, it’s similar. But this story has a crackerjack ending, which some would say ‘Blair Witch’ didn’t.”

THE LOWDOWN With ”Ghost Ship” and ”Below” also opening around Halloween, ”The Ring” faces some scary competition. But some of us are just dying to see what Watts does for an encore.

The Ring
  • Movie
  • 115 minutes