Blu-ray Review Drama

'Rings' Blu-ray Review: The horror franchise comes full circle, but diehard fans get the runaround

May 1, 2017Ben MK

Fans of the Japanese Ringu series have been basking in a semi-resurgence of the franchise as of late, thanks to 2012's Sadako 3D, its 2013 sequel and the recently released Sadako vs. Kayako. However, if you're a fan of the 2002 North American remake, things have been eerily quiet since 2005's The Ring Two, a film that failed to live up to its predecessor, despite being helmed by Ringu director Hideo Nakata.

All of that changes, of course, with director F. Javier Gutiérrez's Rings. Set thirteen years after the events of Gore Verbinski's chilling remake, the movie revolves around Julia (Matlida Lutz), a young woman whose boyfriend's fascination with the occult has led him to join a campus club dedicated to studying the notorious videotape that carries the curse of Samara Morgan (Bonnie Morgan). Soon, however, Julia is caught up in the ill-fated research, and she finds herself in a race against time to unravel Samara's mystery before her seven days are up.

What follows is essentially The Ring reborn for the YouTube generation — and just as leaps and bounds in technology have caused the archaic VHS tape to be supplanted by DVD, then Blu-ray, and now digital streaming, so too has the choice method for spreading Samara's evil evolved as well. This natural progression of the franchise was also touched upon in Sadako vs. Kayako, but in the script here by David Loucka, Jacob Estes and Akiva Goldsman, it plays a more integral role in the narrative, resulting in a more visceral take on the series' mythology.

As for whether Rings lives up to its billing, well, that depends entirely on filmgoers' expectations. Because although the movie does manage to recapture some of the creepy atmosphere of the Japanese and English language originals, it by no means surpasses them. That being said, Gutiérrez and his cast — which also includes Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki and Vincent D'Onofrio — do wring a fair amount of fun out of the film's tried-and-true premise, and, ultimately, it's this fan service that Rings delivers that may just be enough to guarantee another sequel.

Rings creeps its way onto Blu-ray with a solid, albeit workmanlike, technical presentation. More often than not, picture quality is drab, as many scenes take place in dimly lit, decrepit or darkened rooms, drastically limiting the amount of on-screen detail that can easily be discerned. Otherwise, the 1080p image is relatively sharp and film-like, with good color saturation levels to complement the movie's primarily greenish/bluish visual palette. Audio-wise, the default DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is exactly what you might expect, contributing to the movie's spooky atmosphere with an assortment of ghostly whispers, terrified screams and ominous rumbles of thunder.

Paramount's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Terror Comes Full Circle (12:37) - In this featurette, the cast talk about what made the 2002 film so scary and how the story has been updated for a new generation, and viewers get a look at the production design, what director F. Javier Gutiérrez brought to the movie, and the stunts.
  • Resurrecting the Dead: Bringing Samara Back (9:19) - Makeup Effects Designer Arjen Tuiten and actress/contortionist Bonnie Morgan discuss bringing Samara to life, as well as the process of transforming Morgan into the character.
  • Scary Scenes (6:35) - The cast share their opinions of what they think are the most frightening scenes in the movie.
  • Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (18:40) - Fourteen scenes ("Rick Baker Cameo," "Holt and Julia Goodbye," "Talk with Mom," "Hardware Store," "Julia's Webcam," "Goodbye Mom," "Julia Follows Gabriel," "Holt's Vision," "Motel Vision," "Morphed Hands Nightmare," "Julia's Father," "Cicada Vision," "Holt in Hallway" and "Alternate Ending").

Rings is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of May 2nd, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 42 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on February 3rd, 2017.

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