Back Comments (6) Share:
Introduction
2002 saw the release of The Ring, a remake of the Japanese movie, Ringu.  Hollywood was at the time (and to some extent still is) littered with remakes, but director Gore Verbinski decided to take the plunge and remake the 1998 Japanese cult classic. This proved to be a smart move as the film went on to take over $100 million at the US box office alone. One of the reasons behind the film's success was the fact that the movie defied the current trend of horror movies and instead tried to scare audiences with creepy images, rather than full on gore. This obviously appealed to audiences, and now Dreamworks are hoping that a year on, the DVD release will prove to be just as popular.

Ring, The
Movie
The Ring centres on Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), a newspaper reporter who is tired of getting all the boring assignments and craves some interesting work to get her teeth into. Rachel’s big break arrives with the unfortunate and mysterious death of her niece. After some investigation Rachel stumbles across some alarming news, which she doesn’t know whether to believe, or dismiss as a teenage myth. Apparently Rachel’s niece was the victim of a cursed videotape, which if watched, results  in the viewer’s death seven days later. After the tape has been watched, the viewer receives a phone call warning them of this, and then the countdown to the gruesome event begins!

Rachel’s investigation leads her to a resort where her niece had originally watched the videotape. The reporter’s curiosity gets the better of her, and in a moment of madness Rachel decides to watch it too. The contents of the video are quite disturbing, it is full of bizarre/creepy images such as wild horses, mysterious images of ladders, lighthouses and a woman looking into a mirror. As expected, after the movie ends Rachel receives a phone call predicting her death a week later. As the countdown begins, Rachel receives some more bad news. Her son, Aidan, and friend, Noah, have both watched the video as well, and have received the same death threats. Determined to get to the cause of the curse, Rachel and Noah set about unravelling the mystery of the tape, but obviously time is running out for them!

Watching this DVD gave me the opportunity to view The Ring for the second time, the first having been at the cinema. I have never seen the original Japanese version, so this review concentrates solely on the merits of the US version. My initial views on this movie were that it had a great opening sequence (in my opinion the best horror opening scenes since Scream), but the movie deteriorated immensely from about an hour in, and finished with a whimper rather than a flourish. As the movie progressed, I felt there was going to be a clever ending, but sadly it never materialised. I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror movies, I like watching them but I genuinely get scared during the process! Therefore the opening sequence left me on the edge of my seat, but I was slightly disappointed as the film progressed into a thriller/detective movie.

Ring, The
So would I recommend The Ring? While not having been completely convinced by the movie, I think there are enough positives within it to make it a reasonable purchase. I mentioned the opening sequence which is definitely a plus and the overall eerie atmosphere that’s created is worth witnessing, if only for its uniqueness.  One of the movie’s other strong points is the leading performance by Naomi Watts, who seems to canter through the movie producing a performance of astute quality. Her role as the petrified reporter is believable and goes a long way to producing the ghostly atmosphere that the movie portrays. The Ring is unnerving and fans of the horror genre will probably lap it up, just don’t go expecting a classic.  

Video
If you have read any of my previous reviews of Dreamworks’ DVDs, you will know that I am an admirer of the effort they put into their DVD transfers. Well, this disc is no different! Presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this transfer is anamorphically enhanced. As I mentioned earlier, this is my second viewing of the movie, I can therefore give an accurate description of how this transfer fares. The Ring is quite a subdued film, and because of this colours were extremely dull and muted. Black levels were solid, skin tones appeared realistic, and overall this transfer is a good representation of how it looked on the big screen (obviously clearer though!). The print itself is in superb condition and the level of detail here is mighty impressive. Edge enhancements were hardly noticeable for most of the film, compression artifacts kept a low profile and grain levels were kept to a minimum. Overall this is a good example of how new releases should look on DVD, and leads me once again to give Dreamworks a pat on the back for producing another quality transfer.

Ring, The
Audio
One of the major differences between this release and the recent region one disc is the lack of a DTS track. Instead, region two fans are treated to three Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, which come in English, French and German. A DTS track would have been nice, but to be honest it is not missed too much as the 5.1 tracks do a resounding job. For this aspect of the disc I will focus solely on the English track. The movie’s creeping atmosphere means that subtlety is vital, and this track performs admirably. One of my favourite tracks is for the movie The Others, simply because it scared the life out of me with its subtle, yet powerful soundtrack. The same can be said of this soundtrack.  Most the action is directed towards the front speakers, but during some of the jumpier scenes, short sharp sound effects (screams, bangs etc…)  are transferred to the rears.  Dialogue is superb as would be expected, and overall this is a very competent track. That just leaves me to mention the subtitles which are provided in English, French, German, Dutch, Bulgarian, and Arabic

Extras
Sadly the high standards set by the disc so far are let down a little by the extras or lack of! Rumour has it that the director wanted the movie to stand on its own two feet, and believed that extras would spoil the suspense created in the movie, so therefore there are very few to be found. This is probably true, as Dreamworks can usually be relied upon to supply a reasonable number of extras. The main extra on this disc is called Don't Watch This and has a running time of fifteen minutes. The best way to describe this extra is as a continuous stream of deleted scenes. Some of the scenes looked familiar, so whether or not all the scenes have been deleted is probably up for debate. Personally I found this extra to be a little tedious and would only really recommend it for enthusuasists of the movie. However, what it does do well is blend in with the atmosphere of the movie.

The only other extra on this disc is a trailer for Dreamworks’ release of Catch Me If You Can. For some reason this trailer comes under the heading of Look Here. The trailer lasts for just over two minutes. Other than the fact that Dreamworks are responsible for this release, I cannot see why they chose to include this trailer. It has nothing to do with the horror genre, and surely a trailer of The Ring itself would have been better suited.

Ring, The
There is also an easter egg on this disc which can be found by moving the cursor above the play option and then pressing enter. If you are brave enough to access this easter egg then you will be treated to the dreaded video that is shown in the movie. Just don't answer the phone after watching this clip!

Overall
The Ring is a subtle and eerie horror movie which starts off well, but doesn’t quite live up to the expectations it sets within the first fifteen minutes. That’s not to say that it is a bad movie, as it should still keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the closing credits, but it did seem to lack that extra something to make it a horror classic. As for the disc, Dreamworks have once again produced a transfer and soundtracks of the highest quality, but somehow forgot to include the extras! Whether this was intentional or not, only time will tell. The Ring is a decent enough film, but whether you add it to your collection will largely depend on whether you believe that an extra-packed release is due out soon.  


Links: