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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Ring Around the Rosie (2005)

"This was their room, you know? And this was their bed. It's kind of weird."
- Karen Baldwin (Gina Philips)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: March 20, 2006

Stars: Tom Sizemore, Gina Philips
Other Stars: Randall Batinkoff, Jenny Mollen
Director: Rubi Zack

MPAA Rating: R for (some violence/terror)
Run Time: 01h:28m:27s
Release Date: March 21, 2006
UPC: 043396137882
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ D-AA- D

DVD Review

Ring Around the Rosie (previously titled Fear Itself) is a direct-to-DVD thriller that looks promising on the surface, starring the lovely Gina Philips and bad boy Tom Sizemore (Natural Born Killers). Still, because the lack of a theatrical release for thrillers like this is usually a bad sign, I had a feeling it was going to be a long 90 minutes.

Karen (Philips) has just inherited her beloved grandmother's old house, which is located in a heavily wooded area. She has designs on renovating the place, and selling it to make a nice profit; both of which were her grandmother's wishes. After arriving at the house with her boyfriend, Jeff (Randall Batinkoff), Karen begins to hear strange noises and see ghostly images. She soon meets local caretaker Pierce (Sizemore), who is unaware of her grandmother's death. Jeff has to head back to the city, so Karen is left alone with the shady Pierce in a potentially haunted house. When her sister Wendy (Jenny Mollen) shows up, the ghost sightings become more frequent, and Karen's sanity is put to the ultimate test.

This film makes no sense at all and the twist at the end is a futile attempt to clear things up. Unfortunately, I can't go into too much detail, as I don't want to spoil things for the unlucky souls who also have to endure what amounts to a collage of disjointed scenes (that's the only worthy distinction for the film). While it isn't entirely predictable, the story is so terribly written that it's difficult to keep track of who's doing what, where they're doing it, and why. This is slightly excusable for a project with a large cast, but there's only three people we're concerned about here, and if we can't focus on them, then something's very wrong. The only strong point is the dark, atmospheric look of the film, which transcends its direct-to-video status.

Ring Around the Rosie doesn't exactly kill the perception that Tom Sizemore is a creepy guy both on and off camera. He starts off as a seemingly nice man who minds his own business, but in the one predictable element of the film, he gets creepier and creepier, eventually chasing Karen all over the place. Once he goes all Jack Torrance on us, it isn't long before he's physically abusing Wendy, and making sexual advances towards Karen. Sizemore seems far from enthusiastic through much of the film, and his performance suffers greatly. His character doesn't have much of a chance, anyway, regardless of the actor, since he's supposed to instantly change from a normal, nice guy, to a total creep without the audience receiving any hint of his transformation.

I had almost forgotten about Gina Philips after enjoying her work in Jeepers Creepers. After watching her here, that earlier, memorable performance seems even further in the past. I wasn't even sure that this was the same person, since Philips often looked lost as to what she was supposed to do or say next from scene to scene. The blame for this can't rest entirely on her shoulders, as her performance is a perfect example of just how unfocused and poorly written this script truly is.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen presentation is virtually flawless, with little to no grain and dirt. The images are sharp and detailed; aided by excellent contrast and shadow levels that allow everything to hold up in even the darkest set-pieces. This transfer is what we've come to expect from high-profile theatrical releases, and not direct-to-DVD fare.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a surprisingly lively affair, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix exhibiting a wide dynamic range and strong bass presence. Channel separation is impressive, especially during the "jump scare" moments. The dialogue is crystal clear and meshes well with the rest of the audio aspects.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
9 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King, Hostel, The Cave, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, End Game, The Russian Specialist, Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Horror Compilation
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extras are previews for other Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Yet another throw-away direct-to-DVD thriller, Ring Around the Rosie doesn't even make enough sense to be boring. While the end twist makes a tiny bit of sense, this is still a murky mess through and through. Sony's DVD treatment features excellent audio and video, but this is a bare-bones release as far as supplemental features go.


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