The 'Ring' series (or cycle as some like to call it) comes full circle with this third instalment which is in fact more a prequel (or even dare I say it a re-imagining) to the first two shocking movies. Thankfully Tartan are at the helm once again but this time under the banner of 'Asia Extreme'.
The film opens with MTV stylee camera edits of a young girl talking on her mobile phone to a friend about not wanting to watch a creepy video (relating to the earlier movies). Cut to 40 years or so before and we meet an investigative reporter hot on the trail of a girl called Sadako and her family, interviewing one of her old school teachers reveals that she was never photographed and left school mid term following a tragic incident which saw 14 of her classmates drown in a swimming lesson catastrophe. Cue the opening titles then settle into the film proper where we now get to meet Sadako (now a beautiful young woman) who has joined a drama troupe and is understudying the lead role. The other woman in the cast are wary, almost fearful of poor Sadako and when the lead dies mysteriously (with the now trademark look of sheer terror) and Sadako gains her part those around her start to worry more. Is Sadako in some way responsible for the strange death? Why do the people around here die in such a strange way? Why are those around her having the same weird dream involving a well? And does 'Ring 0' do the series any justice?
Well yes and no. Norio Tsuruta's direction is very stylish with the camera sweeping in a flowing fashion giving the film an almost dreamlike feel that is somewhat similar to elements of Argento's 'Phenomena'. The film also has bags of atmosphere, which is doublefold due to Shinichiro Ogata's excellent score. But whilst newcomers to the series will find little plotwise to grumble about, fans of the first two movie will find this one slightly flawed. Yes it is indeed a stylish (and at times genuinely creepy) movie but as a whole it feels very much like a forerunner to the inevitable Dreamworks 're-imagining' taking the core elements of the earlier movies and attempting to form a very loose ground zero to what has gone before. The film at times is also very much like an Asian 'Girl's Own' movie with a large pinch of 'Carrie' thrown in for good measure (old school horror fans will detect the 'Carrie' scenario looming very early on in the film).
That said, I don't want to sound like I'm grumbling too much as I did thoroughly enjoy the film, just not in the way that I did the others in the series. If like myself you should watch the film late at night alone then (again like myself) will find yourself looking over your shoulder as you feel the fear take you over. Even now I still get creeped out at the scenes of Sadako sans white dress and the silent dead pointing into nowhere (gulp!), and once the film gets going you'll find some great scary moments throughout and a very satisfying finale that should get most switching the lights on as they run to bed!
The disc from Tartan is a solid package that whilst being perhaps repetitive of the earlier releases, this is no bad thing as they have all been well presented. The image on the print itself is clean and flawless throughout, though does look slightly softer then the earlier releases looking here very much like a NTSC to PAL transfer. The 2.0 audio is pretty much perfect and delivers Ogata's atmospheric score without fault. The subtitles this time round are optional with clear English subtitling available throughout. Extraswise, there's a nice loop of the three 'Ring' films trailers (which pop up again on the Asia Extreme trailer reel), an all too brief stills gallery (three pages!), Filmography pages and Film Notes by Mark Wyatt that are fine for what they are.
So whilst not the shining light of the series, this prequel of sorts will be an essential addition to the fans of 'Ring' that own the other films. The disc from Tartan is a solid presentation that will sit nicely alongside the previous Tartan 'Ring' discs. Lock the doors, dim the lights and enjoy some more spooky fun! Check it out!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Tartan/Asia Extreme|
|Rated 15 - Region All (PAL)|
|Running time - approx 99 mins|
|Ratio - Widescreen (Anamorphic)|
|Audio - Dolby digital 2.0|
|'Ring' cycle trailers, Asia Extreme trailer reel, Stills gallery, Film Notes by Mark Wyatt, Filmographies.|