If there is one genre that can get away with releasing films direct-to-DVD, it is horror. By nature, most of the best horror films are low budget affairs anyway. Classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th, as well as more modern affairs such as The Blair Witch Project, are perfect models of the power of a smart, low-budget horror film.
Of course, for every Cabin Fever, there are fifteen versions of The Brotherhood III – Young Demons out there, just waiting to suck. Ring …round the Rosie has several good things going for it. For a low budget affair, it is surprisingly well-produced. Quality audio and video can make even the worst film at least pleasant to observe. The film also has some nice “what’s in that shadow?” tension, and Tom Sizemore even found some time between court appearances and stints in rehab to contribute to the film in a key supporting actor role.
No, the problem with this film is not quality, but plot (or lack thereof). Put simply, nothing happens in the film’s 88-minute running time. The basic story of the film involves a young woman that fulfills her Grandmother’s dying wish, and prepares the family’s secluded mountain estate for sale. When the estate’s caretaker (Sizemore) turns out to be a bit on the strange side, the woman is forced to confront some painful memories from her childhood. While the memories are no doubt painful for the woman in the film, they have no personal value to the audience. A Director can tell the audience that his characters are scared all he wants, but unless they are scared them directly, a horror film just won’t be effective. Such is the case with this waste of time.
I get the feeling that the studio’s original intent for this film was to release it in theaters. Once the project was completed, however, a straight to DVD approach seemed more feasible. As a result, this film has better audio and video quality than most low-budget horror faire. There is only one audio track available, Dolby Digital 5.1, but the track is surprisingly responsive. Even whispering dialog is clear, and the surrounds are used effectively. However, the real story here is the utilization of the subwoofer. The low end sound effects are both punchy and powerful. While they sometimes work to support the rest of the audio, the sub’s real function is to punctuate the scenes, and the results are surprisingly effective.
The word on the video quality is “clean”. No grain, few blemishes and great color makes this a nice, clean transfer that doesn’t draw any attention to itself. Viewers that sit through this uneventful film will also be rewarded with a presentation that includes very deep black levels, which is crucial to the success of a horror film. In fact some of the nighttime scenes actually film better than their daytime counterparts. There are some minor problems with sharpness that come up from time to time, and several of the handheld camera shots were not the best idea, but this transfer is way ahead of most other low-budget horror products.
There are a ton of trailers on this disc, but that’s all. While most of the trailers are for other similarly bad films, horror fans will be happy to hear that there is a trailer for Hostel here, complete with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. In fact, that may be the biggest highlight of the entire disc.
The thing is, it’s not that this is a bad film, it is just boring. The technical aspects of the disc are right, and the acting is decent, it’s just that nothing really happens that effectively engages the viewer. For a low-budget horror film that actually works, I suggest that viewers look into Wishcraft, which is also reviewed on this site. Ring Around the Rosie is a horror film that goes for the slow burn, but the burn is so slow that it burns out before it begins.
Special Features List
- Hostel Trailer
- Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King Trailer
- The Cave Trailer
- The Exorcism of Emily Rose Trailer
- End Game Trailer
- The Russian Specialist Trailer
- Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders Trailer
- I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Trailer
- Horror Compilation Trailer