The Ring

The Ring (2002)
Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Cast: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox
Extras: Trailer, Collage

Just when you’re about to give up hope for horror films, along comes one film that restores your hope in the genre. To me that film is "The Ring." Although not flawless – not by any means – it is nonetheless one of the scariest film in years. The scariest film since "The Exorcist" I am almost tempted to say. Now, Dreamworks Home Entertainment is bringing the film to DVD and it’s a great chance to experience the horror of "The Ring" in your own walls.

"The Ring" is a remake of the original Japanese movie "Ringu" that was extremely successful in Japan. Its reputation of scaring people out of their wits quickly exceeded the borders of the island nation and it became one of the most notorious horror movies of the 90s. Dreamworks Home Entertainment remade the movie to make it more accessible to American audiences while retaining the exact same story.

"People die after watching it, " is key phrase from the movie, relating to a mysterious video tape. And indeed, four teenagers who watched the tape one night, all mysteriously perish at the exact same time, exactly seven days later. Investigative journalist Rachel (Naomi Watts), who is also related to one of the victims, takes an interest in the case and tries to uncover the supposed tape-that-kills. She watches it and the unthinkable happens. As the legend says, after watching the eerie tape, the phone rings and a voice tells her that she will die in seven days. At first, Rachel is certain it is only a prank, but evidence mounts that for some reason, she is indeed cursed and may only have a few days to live. Frantically she tries to find out the origins of the tape so that she can possibly avert her own doom, but the images are elusive at best. Carefully she gathers clues and is soon underway trying to solve the riddles that are getting increasingly scary and desolate.

"The Ring" is beautifully acted, which vastly increases the unsettling mysterious atmosphere of the movie. The feeling of impending doom and fatal inevitability is hanging over every frame, tunneling its way into your mind.
As pointed out in the beginning, the film is not flawless however, and it’s a result of two major flaws that can be traced throughout the film. The first is the fact that the characters – especially Rachel – oftentimes react irrational to certain situations. It is so radical at times that it breaks the suspension of disbelief and pulls you right out of the movie when a character goes about doing things that just don’t make sense and that no ordinary person would do. I can’t go into specific details here or else it would spoil the plot, I’m afraid.
The second biggest flaw of the movie is that it is highly derivative in its individual plot elements. While the overall story is well conceived and thought-out, with beautiful surprises, it can’t hide the fact that almost the entire film consists of elements we’ve seen in other films before. From "Poltergeist" to "The Evil Dead" and mostly "The Sixth Sense," you will find major plot elements and visuals reproduced here to the point that it becomes almost plagiarized.
Make no mistake, though, "The Ring" is nonetheless an incredibly powerful film that can shatter your nerves. It is mostly the psychological undertone of the film that creates the scares and not overt graphic visuals. Still, the film does contain its share of horrifying images that have the power to haunt your memory for some time.

Dreamworks Home Entertainment is presenting "The ring" in a <$PS,widescreen> presentation on this DVD that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. The image is very clean and entirely free of defects or speckles. The picture has a very good level of detail bringing out many of the subtle intricacies of the production design. Colors are nicely reproduced, recreating the cold look of the movie that is so appropriate for the production. Skin tones are always faithfully rendered making sure the mage always looks natural, further enhancing the supposed realism of the film. Black levels are perfectly balanced, creating very deep shadows that never break up but leave plenty of detail intact. In a handful of scenes edge-enhancement is evident but it is used sparsely and doesn’t become distracting. The compression of the film has been handled carefully as well and no compression artifacts are distracting from the experience.

Dreamworks has supplied this release with a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track as well as a <$DTS,DTS> track and <$DS,Dolby Surround> tracks in English. A French <$5.1,5.1 channel> Dolby Digital track can also be found on the disc. The tracks are very impressive and especially the DTS track manages to reproduce the fine and subtle details in the mix without any flaws. "The Ring" makes frequent use of atmospheric, ominous cues that are sound clusters, and the mix makes sure these drones literally engulf the viewer by making aggressive use of the surround channels. Especially in the DTS version the spatial definition of these clusters is wonderful. But also sound effects and the general score of the film have been masterfully mixed and reproduced on this disc.

The DVD doesn’t contain any notable extras other than a selection of trailers and a collage of footage from "The Ring." It is evident that a Special Edition of this movie begs to be released. A hidden feature is included on this disc, giving you access to the full footage of the deadly videotape from the film, but that’s about it.

If you get over the fact that the film is so highly derivative, "The Ring" is actually one of the scariest films in years, so it should be clear that no horror fan can possibly afford to miss out on this release. Be prepared for a number of images that will burn themselves indelibly into your mind and a movie that will keep you thinking about it for some time.