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I really have to start trusting my instincts. Hell, even trusting the evidence of my senses would have sufficed in this case. But some friends of mine that aren’t imbeciles gave The Ring a thumbs-up, so I followed an apparently misguided inclination to think I might agree with them. Ninety minutes into the film, I wondered if its payoff would be the most incredible cinematic redemption in history, or if this experience had merely been a (sadly routine) error in judgement. Of course the latter was true. The best defense I can offer is that it’s miles beyond this summer’s nearly identical FearDotCom, but that’s like lauding Showgirls as a masterwork in comparison to AI. The Ring’s plot holes were plentiful, its chills nonexistant, and its performances tepid—especially David Dorfman’s token psychic kid (damn you, Haley Joel, and the monster you’ve created). I haven’t seen Ringu (the 1998 Japanese film upon which The Ring was based), but given the fact that the retarded junior-high-urban-legend premise is largely to blame for The Ring’s failure, I can’t imagine a language difference or even a wildly disparate treatment would have helped Ringu succeed. Hackneyed “scary” editing tricks (loud and sudden is the rule) would have been the final nail in the coffin if it weren’t already six feet underground.

So then I snuck into Jackass: The Movie and saw exactly what I expected to see, as did the perfectly rendered composite sketches of the film’s demographic with whom I shared the theater.