Unnecessarily convoluted but successfully creepy, it’s too bad this movie – which melds the historical ghost story of The Changeling with the silly modern fright of Videodrome – isn’t better. Director Gore Verbinski (The Mexican, Pirates of the Caribbean) just keep larding on more and more ridiculous plot twists and dumb plot contrivances that eventually, the pictures falls under its own bloat.
The plot is simple: if you see a particular videotape, you get a phone call, and then you die in 7 days. Reporter Naomi Watts gets on to the story, incredibly and laughably finds and watches the tape, gets the call, and wham! – we embark on leisurely race to find the origins of the tape, going to places that make very little sense given where the tape was found. During the process, Watts shows it to her ex-husband and then, is so negligent, she allows her spooky son to see it as well. One shudders to think what would happen is she had a gun in the house, but either way, you’re not loaded with sympathy for this dimwit
What follows is no more than hints and allegory as the story gets more cockamamie and out-of-control.
It’s also pretty hard to be scared of a VHS tape. As observed by the estimable Aldous Snow: