If you're a big fan of The Ring
– or perhaps if you haven't seen it yet and are debating what
to buy – you may have found your eye resting on the Collector's
Edition release. Compared to most double- (or triple-) dip releases,
this release of The Ring is actually easy to evaluate. It's
simply the regular release of the film, packaged exactly the same
way, packaged along with a new, separate DVD called Rings. The
second disc is basically bonus material, so I've addressed its
contents in the Extras section; in the meantime, read on here if
you're interested in the review of the film itself.
The Ring is an odd hybrid of
stylish, effective storytelling and Swiss-cheese plot. It's a film
that does an excellent job of hooking you in and keeping you
thoroughly engaged with the story while the film is running... but
it's best not to think back too much on the story after the end
credits roll, because it doesn't hold up very well to hindsight.
I actually liked The Ring
considerably more than I expected. I thought it would be, at best, a
modestly entertaining, light-weight horror/thriller flick. What I
didn't expect was for it to have some actual depth, or for it to be
as polished as it is. Much of the success of The Ring can be
credited to its deft handling of genre conventions and viewer
expectations, both in terms of the overall plot arc and also in terms
of camera work and direction.
As it begins, The Ring seems
like it's going to be another entrant in the "urban legend"
category of horror films, albeit with a clever new premise (the
videotape that kills you when you watch it). But as the story
develops, it starts to head off into another direction, as the story
focuses on Rachel's (Naomi Watts) investigation of the history behind
the deadly tape. For much of the film, then, The Ring takes on the
character of a creepy suspense or mystery story. (OK, it also feels a
lot like a computer adventure game, but hey, it works.) Toward the
end, the resolution uses well-worn horror conventions, with the idea
of the restless dead, but even then, a final twist adds a fresh
feeling to the overall film.
It's not just in its overall plot
arc that The Ring plays with viewer expectations. Whenever we
watch a scary movie, we're primed to expect certain jumpy moments:
the door opening to reveal something terrible, the monster sneaking
up behind the character's shoulder, and so on. The trouble is that
the effective feeling of anticipation (the "edge of your seat"
feeling) is often then cancelled out by the over-familiarity of the
scare tactics. If you know the door's going to open on a horrific
sight, it's not so horrific when it happens. So what about The
Ring? Director Gore Verbinski does a great job here of playing
both with our expectations, and against them. Sometimes it feels like
we're being set up for a scare... and it's a false alarm; other times
a nasty shock comes when we least expect it. But he balances out
these forays outside convention with other scenes in which he plays
the scare "by the book." The result is that the whole film
has a much scarier, creepier feel to it: we can never truly be sure
when something nasty is going to happen.
Of course, true horror-film buffs
may have a different take on the scares of The Ring; I freely
admit that I scare pretty easily. But in my case, at least, I found
The Ring to be quite effectively creepy.
All of this is best appreciated in
the midst of the film, when the sleek cinematography and creepy
atmosphere work together with the film's brisk pacing to create a
smooth and engaging viewing experience. It's when you look back on
the film that the holes start to show up. The best films of the
mystery/suspense genre offer a feeling of satisfaction when you look
back, a sense of "oh... that's how it all fits together!"
The Ring feels like one of those films, except that there are
a lot of missing puzzle pieces. In retrospect, it's clear that
several creepy elements in the story are there just for the sake of
being creepy; they're not explained, and in fact don't seem to have a
whole lot to do with the way events develop. The Ring is still
quite enjoyable, but it won't hold up well to repeat viewings.
Edition of The Ring includes the original single-disc edition
of the film, and a separate DVD called Rings in its own
The Ring appears in a clean
and attractive widescreen anamorphic transfer, at the film's original
aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Colors and contrast are handled well
throughout the film, and overall it's a crisp and nicely detailed
image. The one fault I'd find with it is the presence of some edge
The audio options for The Ring
are excellent. The DTS 5.1 track offers a nicely immersive listening
experience, with good use of surround sound and a rich and detailed
feel to the sound. A Dolby 5.1 track and a Dolby 2.0 track are also
included, along with a dubbed French 5.1 track. English closed
captions and Spanish and French subtitles are available.
There's nothing particularly special
about the special features for The Ring... either on the
original single-disc edition, or on the extra disc included in the
The Ring includes a short
feature called "Don't Watch This," containing 15 minutes of
deleted scenes, and trailers for Ringu, Catch Me If You
Can, and 8 Mile.
Considering that the Collector's
Edition includes a whole other DVD, you'd expect a nice slate of
additional bonus materials. Unfortunately, there's nothing of any
compelling interest on the Rings DVD. The main special feature
here is a 16-minute short film called "Rings," which picks
up and explores one of the loose ends in The Ring. It's a
reasonably well done piece, but it's certainly not enough by itself
to merit the additional DVD. So, what else is there? Not a whole lot,
actually. The "never-before-seen interviews with the stars and
filmmakers!" come in the form of an eight-minute,
promotional-style piece (as in, "I play a character who..."
segments, interspersed with clips from the film). A featurette
called "The Origin of Terror" seems like it could have
something interesting to say about urban legends, except that it only
runs four minutes, and after the first minute or so it turns into a
promotional segment for The Ring, anyway. Last, we get
trailers for The Ring and The Ring 2, and the "cursed
videos" for The Ring, The Ring 2, and Ringu.
In short, these special features
would be adequate at best even if they'd been included on the
original release; they're certainly not worth double-dipping for.
The Ring is a polished,
effectively creepy horror film that manages to blend together
different conventional elements and shake them up in such a way as to
have an original, fresh feel. It's best, though, not to think too
closely about the plot, because there are some distinct holes that
are quite apparent in retrospect; this is a film that's best watched
just once, and not re-watched. Unless you're a complete fanatic about
the film, the Collector's Edition is really not worth the extra
money, as it's just the existing single-disc edition packaged
together with an additional DVD that has almost nothing of interest.
I'd certainly recommend against double-dipping. I'll give this
Collector's Edition a "recommended" on the strength of the
main feature, but if you already own the single-disc edition, just
hang on to what you've got.