Releasing a freshly packaged special edition of a hit film just in time for the theatrical release of its sequel has gone from trend to nearly de rigueur practice in the DVD world. There’s little evidence that the strategy is anything more than a savvy marketing trick — an assumption furthered with the release of “The Ring Collector’s Set” from DreamWorks. Promotional value may be high but added content value is frighteningly low.
Recent examples of the pre-sequel special edition epidemic include “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Meet the Parents,” while new sets for “Miss Congeniality” and “XXX” are due shortly. The appeal is obvious: Older titles are moved up to the DVD new release racks and in the process remind consumers about the sequel playing at the local multiplex.
The main attraction on “The Ring Collector’s Set” is a never-before-seen short, produced for the DVD, that serves as a narrative bridge between the first “Ring” and its sequel. That short, “Rings,” is directed by Jonathan Liebesman (“Darkness Falls”) and stars Ryan Merriman and Emily VanCamp, who co-star in “The Ring Two.”
“Rings” follows the feature film’s cursed videotape (anyone who watches it dies seven days later) into an underground world of thrill-seeking teens who watch the tape and then race against time to pass the curse on to someone else. The intriguing premise is stretched thin over 16 minutes, and the short’s style owes more to the films of Darren Aronofsky than to the original “Ring.”
The short may be for hardcore “Ring” fans only, but it’s more welcome than the minimal other new bonus materials. Two brief featurettes include lackluster on-set press kit-style interviews about the performers and the idea of urban legends. Clearly, these could have been included when the film was originally released on DVD nearly two years ago.
At least the main attraction holds up as one of the best horror pics of recent years, benefiting greatly from a post-“Mulholland Dr.” Naomi Watts in the lead role, stylish direction by Gore Verbinski and a memorably unsettling climax featuring a television set that refuses to turn off.
“Collector’s Set” also includes a free ticket to see “The Ring Two” in theaters, natch.