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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • Japanese: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • 10 Theatrical trailer - 2 for Ring, 2 for Ring 2, 6 for other films
  • Featurette - Sadako’s Video and includes sample episode of Boogiepop Phantom cartoon

Ring

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

After four teenagers die in mysterious circumstances and another goes insane, an urban legend begins to circulate amongst school kids that the victims had been killed by a bizarre ‘video curse’. Asakawa (Matsushima Nanako), a reporter looking into the story, finds that the dead kids had viewed a video of strange images, then received a phone call which informed them they would be dead in a week.

Finding the video, Asakawa (unwisely) watches it and promptly receives the ‘phone call of doom’ which would appear to seal her fate. Enlisting the help of her ex-husband, Ryuji (Sanada Hiroyuki), they try to uncover the origins of the video and hopefully find a way to ward off her impending doom before her time is up.

The crop of teen targeted horror films over the last few years has as much in common with Ring as a cheeseburger and Coke has to a nice hot roast dinner with potatoes and red wine. The cheeseburger is what you get when you’re in a hurry and need something to scoff down quickly, whereas the roast you enjoy eating slowly with a nice wine to savour the flavour. One gives you a full, contented feeling in your belly, the other gives you the runs.

Ring is a film that serves up atmosphere by the bucketload, with a few low key yet effective shocks to jar you at the right moments. From the very beginning, with visions of rolling oily black seas and an eerily effective score, you delve headlong into a story where everything is painted with an ominously oppressive brush. This has helped in the years since its release to sway many people to jump on the Ring bandwagon and proclaim it as one of the unsung scariest films of all time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always live up to this bold proclamation, and makes you wonder just how much of the hype is a carryover from the Blair Witch phenomenon.

The pacing, although mostly effective, can take a little too long to say very little. As for the supernatural nature of the goings-on, everyone seems to accept the ‘obvious’ just a little too readily. Not seeing them go through some sort of process of disbelief makes it feel a little forced. Seeing people reject the notion first, then be drawn to a conclusion they couldn’t deny would have been more engaging. Finally, the explanation of the curse perhaps just isn’t bizarre enough, and unwinds a little of the dread that has built up. Nevertheless, with an admittedly very interesting central premise, the brief yet extremely effective use of photographs (you’d shit yourself if you took photos like you see in this film, I kid you not) and a dark, depressing atmosphere, Ring definitely comes off as a relatively unique and more adult oriented horror film which will entertain, if not scare, many viewers.

  Video
Contract

The picture, to suitably match the story, is very dark and devoid of bright colours and lighting. Obviously intended, the predominance of heavy shadows and gloomy interiors effectively transfers its 91 minute runtime onto a single layer of a dual layered disc in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 aspect ratio without any obvious encoding problems. Served with a limited palette which offers up a preference for grays and cold blues, the picture looks as cold and depressing as the story tries to be. As for film artefacts, the print is fairly peppered with specks and scratches, mostly minor white ones with some black visible in brighter scenes, but it’s the white ones which are occasionally exaggerated by the darkness of the image.

The film also has the English subtitles burnt in, and while they are mostly clear and legible, every now and then the white text is difficult to read because of placement over a bright background. This first occurs early in the film and a few more times throughout, and can be annoying and disruptive to your viewing.

  Audio
Contract

A single audio track is available, for the original Japanese language in 224kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. My Japanese is a tad rusty and limited to the phrase “Wax on, wax off, Daniel san”, but I figured that the dialogue sounded clear enough. Other effects and the score came up well, with good clarity and a nice evil ambience created using just the two front channels with a little panning across the soundstage. Although the sound design can be a bit minimalist at times this works to its advantage, with the combination of the weird noises for the spooky bits creating everything the film needs to generate that “Maybe I won’t put the bins out so late tonight” feeling.

  Extras
Contract

Entering the 'Extra Features' section, we are presented with four options: Sadako’s Video, Ring Trailers, Madman Diversion – Boogiepop Phantom and Madman Propaganda.

Sadako’s Video is the full 44 second version of the mysterious video shown in the film, so you can run off copies onto videotape and pass them on to unsuspecting family and friends for a bit of a laugh. Don’t forget to have someone ring their house when they watch the video for the full effect. Ring Trailers contains four trailers for Ring and Ring 2. It has one each for the English release and one each for the Japanese release of each film. I’d advise against watching these until after the film as they contain a few important moments from it. Madman Diversion – Boogiepop Phantom is an excellent inclusion on this DVD, with both a trailer for the cartoon and full 20 minutes sample episode. Madman Propaganda has trailers for six features: Amores Perros, Spriggan, Pi, Perfect Blue, Ghost in the Shell and The Circle.

  Overall  
Contract

Ring is an effective and haunting film which will probably grow as yet another cult favourite. Do yourself a favour and forget the hype surrounding the film, just go grab yourself a copy for a night of sombre chills. Make sure you turn off the lights and watch this one alone and late at night for the full effect, you big chicken.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1453
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      And I quote...
    "Make sure you turn off the lights and watch this one alone late at night for the full effect, you big chicken"
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB1070
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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