Frightening Samara

Read this review and if you don’t share it within seven days, you’ll die. The Ring is stylishly dark, effectively disturbing horror made with all the creative force Hollywood can muster. Led by star Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive), director Gore Verbinski remakes a classic Japanese horror film with amazing results. Featuring absolutely haunting visuals, the mystery-driven supernatural tale remains one of Hollywood’s greatest chillers to this day.

The Ring’s central premise revolves around a mysterious VHS tape filled with some of the creepiest imagery ever committed to celluloid. When anyone views the haunting video, a strange amalgam of spooky scenes including a woman committing suicide, they have seven days left before dying. Skeptical newspaper reporter Rachel (Naomi Watts) tracks down the video…and watches it. Now she is on a mission seeking the tape’s origin before her time expires. The single mother has to worry about her only son Aidan (David Dorfman) during this investigation as she unravels a deepening mystery.

The Ring is stylishly dark, effectively disturbing horror made with all the creative force Hollywood can muster

The neatly-plotted thrill ride eerily builds dread with suspenseful twists and a nightmarish atmosphere pitch-perfect for scaring viewers. Hans Zimmer provides an unforgettable score setting the somber mood. Brian Cox appears for a pivotal role lending his gravitas to the cast. Verbinski makes all the right choices in his direction, carefully balancing character development with the requisite tension and spellbinding set pieces. Eschewing gore, unsettling shockers such as the horse’s death keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

The Ring’s art direction and visual effects are superb, featuring some of the most iconic and parodied horror scenes of all time. Who can forget Samara coming out of the television’s static as the vengeful spirit claims her victims? The terrifying design was a great shock when the movie premiered in 2002, though dozens of lesser films copying it over the years have cut into its sheer hold over audiences.

Hollywood remakes of foreign films rarely better the source material but there are rare exceptions. The Ring is one such exception. That may be a controversial take since Ringu is such a beloved piece of J-horror.

Easily one of the scariest and most entertaining PG-13 horror films ever made, if anything what should be mentioned is that its influence led Hollywood down the wrong path. After its surprising box office success, the industry increasingly shifted towards softer PG-13 films for the horror market. Studios kept chasing The Ring’s unique formula without realizing its intriguing premise and incredible execution on the creative end are a rare combo.

Video

The Ring makes the leap to UHD in stunning quality featuring a new 4K scan from the original camera negative courtesy of Scream Factory (Shout Studios). Throw in a subtle Dolby Vision layer on top and the film looks better than ever in 2160p resolution.

The 2002 DreamWorks production is famous for its pervasively green-tinted cinematography by Bojan Bazelli. The teal-green grading is meticulously preserved here in a faithful, film-like transfer that is a bit on the gritty side.

The main feature runs 115-minutes on a triple-layer UHD with a fantastic HEVC encoding. Detail is superb, offering incredibly revealing definition and clarity for an early 2000s film made before digital tools had taken over Hollywood’s pipeline. Black levels are pushed nearly to the breaking point, though never quite crushing.

I was worried the VHS tape central to The Ring’s storytelling would look hokey and less scary at such a high resolution but those worries were unfounded. None of its eerie charm and bizarre imagery loses its terrifying grip. It’s a credit to Verbinski how his storytelling holds up under UHD’s much greater picture quality.

I didn’t think owning The Ring in 4K was necessary before seeing this disc. I was wrong. This Dolby Vision-enhanced 1.85:1 presentation is a huge leap in video quality over earlier Blu-ray editions from the early 2010s. It’s the clear gem of Scream Factory’s Ring Collection trilogy set in terms of video upgrade.

Audio

The only thing holding my score back here on UHD is the lack of a Dolby Atmos track. Otherwise this is top-notch surround audio made when Hollywood first began pushing the limits of home theater mixes.

Scream Factory provides the excellent 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio heard on earlier Blu-ray releases. A dynamic affair showcasing the wonderful sound design by Skywalker Sound and Hans Zimmer’s beautifully haunting score, it’s an excellent mix of precision and power. Nicely immersive with tight bass and an articulate soundstage, dialogue crisply floats between the extended highs and deep lows.

The horrifying set pieces from The Ring come alive with an array of discrete sonic cues and creative directionality. Watch out for the jump scares, the audio may just give you a heart attack.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. A 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA option is also included.

Extras

The Ring is released on UHD as part of a six-disc combo UHD and Blu-ray set from Scream Factory titled The Ring Collection with its sequels The Ring Two and Rings. Each film gets its own UHD with a companion Blu-ray holding the bonus features. Archival extras from the DVD era are paired with a new feature-length documentary “Ghost Girl Gone Global” which dives into Samara’s popularity across the world.

The three UHD cases arrive in a hard outer shell.

Ghost Girl Gone Global (92:29 in HD) – A generous examination of the franchise and its impact on horror. The new documentary has a little fluff but generally is worth viewing for fans.

Don’t Watch This Deleted Scenes (15:26 in SD)

Rings Short Film (16:42 in HD) – A short connecting the first film with its sequel.

The Origin of Terror Featurette (03:58 in SD)

Cast & Filmmaker Interviews (07:58 in SD)

The Ring Theatrical Trailer (02:10 in SD)

Full disclosure: This UHD was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

The Ring
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

One of the creepiest and most iconic horror films ever made despite being a Hollywood remake of a Japanese horror classic

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 68 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:


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