Ring of Darkness

Starring: Steve Martines, Ryan Starr, Adrienne Barbeau and Jeremy Jackson
Mosaic Entertainment
Certificate: 15
Available 21 June 2004

Shawn has the looks and voice to go all the way. His girlfriend, Stacy, believes his talent could take him there. When a chance audition lands him front and centre as the lead vocalist in the world's hottest boy band, it seems he has finally got his big break. But the rest of the group have hidden secrets - they have sacrificed their souls in exchange for eternal life. The band needs new blood and Shawn is someone strong, pure and innocent to give their clan a new beginning...

Ring of Darkness is a made for TV movie which has so many faults that it is almost laughable. The plot would work for a 30 minute short, but stretched over an hour and 20 minutes the cracks have become gaping holes.

The movie plays like a pop video director's first attempt at movie making - which it isn't, as director David DeCoteau has directed plenty of horror movies (usually under the pseudonyms of Joseph Tennent, Julian Breen, Jack Reed or Victoria Sloan, to name a few of his many personalities).

The tag line: "There is life after death" is meaningless here. Is that really the best they could come up with?

I also couldn't work out how Ryan Starr managed to land the role of Stacy - it certainly wasn't because of her acting ability. She is slightly less wooden than a drugged up porn star. Her singing might be impressive, she was a finalist in American Pop Idol, but as she never opens her mouth to sing in this flick I am left wondering who would pick her as an actress? Not only that, but she is the prominent character on the video cover - which seems odd as she is only really a supporting actress.

There is nothing original about this movie and even when an attempt is made to pay homage (rip-off) another cinematic style, it falls flat on it's face. There is a scene which borrows heavily from An American Werewolf in London. There is a nightmare scene which is designed to make the audience jump, which is then followed by another scene which is also supposed to be jumpy... Well, this would have worked if it wasn't for the fact that the music cue (blast of loud music) cuts in too early so that you don't jump at all.

There are other serious flaws in the script (like why when Shawn finds a tape recording that a previous victim had made of his own murder, he didn't need to rewind it to hear what had gone on. He just pressed play) but I can't even be bothered to pick at them.

The only really neat touch is the fake photography of the band members over the last 50 years - that was amusing.

And finally, whoever mastered this film for video should be taken out and shot as it has been transferred in the wrong aspect ratio. This is fine if you have a widescreen TV, or any TV where you can change the picture ratio. But if you have a standard TV you will have to watch this movie is squeeze-o-vision, which is just stupid.

This is racist, sexist and dull.

Pete Boomer