In the quarter of a century since Suzuki Koji's horror novel Ring was first published his story has spread as rapidly as the tale's cursed videotape. From film and TV adaptations to a multitude of sequels and even a crossover with the similarly long-haired ghoul from The Grudge, Koji's story keeps being reinvented for new audiences.
Which is why, a decade after The Ring 2 limped out of cinemas (and almost a year after the final VCRs rolled off the production line), Hollywood has seen fit to torment fright fans with a second sequel to Gore Verbinski's well-regarded 2002 US remake. Yet despite an intriguing setup that brings Samara's haunted videotape into the digital age, Rings transpires to be a thoroughly formulaic affair. Indeed, it feels more like a straight-to-video sequel than a film designed to watch at a multiplex.
Director F. Javier Gutiérrez manages to craft a couple of effective scares and the freakishly flexible actress Bonnie Morgan ensures that Samara is as creepy as ever. But these efforts are wasted on a story that is content to retread the original, albeit with an even more convoluted origin for the ghost. And while the original flick backed up its horror with adult protagonists, here the writers have gone in favour of a bunch of bland college students.
Buried beneath all of this sloppy storytelling there's the kernel of a good idea, one that could have taken the franchise in an exciting new direction. But that was presumably a step too far for a studio that merely hoped to use the series name to rake in some extra dollars from a teenage audience.
Picture: Clearly patterned after the visual style of Gore Verbinski's remake, Rings opts for a deliberately dark and cold palette that favours crushed blacks, cold blues and sickly greens. While this excessive grading doesn't have a knock-on effect on detailing, banding does raise its head from time to time.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: The Blu-ray's DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix utilises the entire speaker configuration to serve up all you'd hope for from a horror sequel. Whether it's subtle atmospheric details or something more aggressive (such as the opening Chapter's aeroplane sequence), it's constantly involving. Probably the best thing about the Blu-ray, really.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: Terror Comes Full Circle (13 minutes) offers an overview of the film's production; Resurrecting the Dead: Bringing Samara Back (nine minutes) focuses on creating the film's ghoul; and Scary Scenes (seven minutes) sees the cast discuss their favourite moments. Rounding things out are 14 deleted scenes.
Extras rating: 2/5
We say: Not the worst horror sequel you'll ever see, just a thoroughly dull and generic one.
Rings, Paramount/Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 2/5
Want the latest issue of Home Cinema Choice? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!
Want to see your home cinema system featured in the pages of HCC? Click here for more info.
Love home cinema? Sign up to our emails for the latest news and special offers!
Home Cinema Choice is proud to be a member of EISA.
Visit www.eisa.eu for more info.