Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 16th, 2003
To be fair, The Ring is not the most original horror film to come along recently. It is not only based on the cult classic Japanese film Ringu, but at times mimics the script word for word. There are also enough similarities to the recent Fear Dot Com to make one take pause. It is one of the scariest and most atmospheric films to appear in quite a few years. Since the 1980’s the state of the American horror film has been in a steady decline. Yes, special effects have advanced light years since the days of Karloff and Lugosi, but the end result has more often been to gross out rather than engross. The Ring delivers solid acting, a competent plot, and wonderfully eerie cinematography.
A group of teenagers watch a video tape while bored in a mountain cabin, daring the popular urban legend that watching the tape will prove fatal in just 7 days. When the teenagers die horrible deaths, one of the girls’ aunt tries to solve the mystery before it can claim her or her young son.
The audio on this DVD is a superb Dolby Digital 5.1 or slightly superior DTS mix. All of the atmospheric elements of the theatrical experience survive intact. This is an aggressive mix without being distracting. It’s all in the subtle sound effects that assault your senses almost without you even being aware of them. The score is used sparingly. Highs are dynamic and lows pack just enough punch for you to feel them and not so much that your ears are left ringing. That’s just the phone… and by the way… don’t answer that.
Like the audio this is a full out near perfect transfer. The Ring is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Once again, this film is all about the atmosphere, and you won’t miss out with this transfer. The blacks are alive with shadow and depth that I’ve seldom seen in a horror film. Colors range from the intentional washed out hues to the bright red leaves of a pivotal tree in the film. These leaves will literally blaze alive on your monitor. I found no evidence of artifacts or blemishes. One complaint I have is a worse than usual layer transfer. Would someone in the know explain to me why these can’t be handled during scene transitions?
Here is where a wonderful presentation falls terribly short. What is there is terrific but there just isn’t enough. There is a 15 minute collage of film images and deleted scenes that I found to be very compelling. I don’t often refer to Easter Eggs in these reviews, but this one is well worth mentioning. You can view the entire two minute version of the infamous tape. Simply push the up control when the menu loads. The curser will vanish. Press Enter now and sit back and enjoy. I’d unplug the phone first.
I’ve never seen the entire film Ringu but have read a shooting script translated into English. From that I can assure you they are very much the same film. I highly recommend this one to both horror and mystery fans. You have to be patient, however. In the first 20 minutes it appears this is going to be a cheap “Sixth Sense” knockoff. But if you stick around you’ll find it’s nothing at all like The Sixth Sense. If you really want a good scare, “There’s this tape…”