Adrienne Barbeau - Alex
Jeremy Jackson - Xavier
Stephen Martines - Shawn
Ryan Starr - Stacy
Colin Bain - B.J.
Matt T. Baker - Jake
Eric Dearborn - Max
Jeff Peterson - Jonah
Genre - Horror/Zombies
Running Time - 85 Minutes
PLOT - Boy band, Take 10, is the hottest group around. They can sing. They can dance. They get hot chicks - well if you're wearing beer goggles, that is. They're managed by Adrienne Barbeau. And they like to eat their lead singers once he learns that Take 10 are really zombies. I'm sure you won't be hearing this story on N'Sync's Behind the Music episode!
Anyway, the lack of a lead singer puts a grind in Take 10's plans. So they conduct an audition to see who can lip sync to their one really annoying song the best [I'm not joking]. The three finalists are confident Max (Eric Dearborn), secret reporter Jonah (Jeff Peterson), and serious musician Shawn (Stephen Martines) - who brings his girlfriend, Stacy (Ryan Starr) along.
The finalists and Take 10 are taken to some secret beach location with a beautiful house, a beautiful view, and a beautiful cave where the group does human sacrificing.
Obviously some of the contestants are zombie food, although Take 10 wants to save Shawn for last because he has the most potential for their future. Can Shawn stop these Boy Band zombies? Can someone turn off that stupid Take 10 song? It's giving me a bigger headache than the actual film itself!
STORY - I have three lyrics for RING OF DARKNESS:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
The WTF? Vault has been busy lately and films like RING OF DARKNESS are extending its stay. I have no idea what possessed to watch this film. The generic, photoshopped poster should have given it away. Plus, the film is directed by David DeCoteau - a man who directed some fun B-movies back in his early career, such as SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, CREEPOZOIDS, and several of the PUPPET MASTER films, but now has regulated into making bad homoerotic Z-grade horror films like THE BROTHERHOOD V: ALUMNI. Also, the film stars Baywatch's Jeremy Jackson and American Idol reject Ryan Starr, as well as scream queen Adrienne Barbeau who probably lost a bet to star in this or something. What I'm trying to say is that I saw all the warning signs and still watched this anyway. What does that say about me? Please don't judge...
RING OF DARKNESS is a terrible film from beginning to end. The screenplay written by Ryan Carrassi, Matthew Jason Walsh, and managing editor of Fangoria Magazine, Michael Gingold, is just shallow, empty, and bad. If there was anything positive to say about the script, it would have to be the originality of the concept itself. I have never heard of or seen a film involving zombies who happen to be a member of a boy band. I'm sure there was an attempt of symbolism there, as a lot of us see boy bands as puppets who are controlled by strong marketing teams - similar to the original voodoo zombies who were under the spell of witch doctors and power hungry villains. I just wish more was done with that if that was the intent behind the concept. Instead we get a very cliche film that just meanders until its really silly end.
I don't even know where to begin with this script. The characters are all dull and don't have much dimension at all. The Take 10 members all seem to have different personalities, but none of them are really explored much besides the racist one who didn't want a black guy being their leader. Where that comes from isn't explained at all, making that characteristic ineffective on a whole. All I really knew about these characters was that they had great abs, perform one song, and are supposedly zombies. Alex, their manager, seems to be the one in control of Take 10, bringing them back to life after a plane crash had taken theirs years ago. Yet, we don't know anything about her either. Why would she bring these four singers back? What does she have to gain from this? Why is she so focused on getting a fifth member? I don't have the answers for these questions and neither does the script.
As for the so-called protagonists, they're just as bland. Shawn is the lead character of the film and does have a bit of dimension at times compared to everyone else. He wants to be a serious rock star, but on the advice of his girlfriend, decides to try out in order to gain some fame for a future solo career. He's the film's Justin Timberlake in that case. He's not deep or anything. I don't know why he lets his girlfriend tell him what to do. I don't know why he even goes along with everything when he shows he doesn't give a shit about the contest. But I can understand why he tries out and that's, at least, a small something. Doesn't make the film good though. As for Shawn's girlfriend, Stacy is such an underused plot device that I even wonder why she's even in the film to begin with. She doesn't really do anything at all and is just eye candy for the hetero males and lesbians - but she's not even eye candy you'll remember an hour later. She's pointless really. As for the other contestants, Max is just a cocky dude who happens to be the token black character. Jonah, the reporter, is only there to help Shawn figure out what's going on with Take 10 when Jonah records his death on a tape recorder. He's working for a major newspaper, yet no one from that agency bothered to check up on him to see if he was getting the story they asked for. Journalism is such a caring career, isn't it?
As for the zombie aspect of the film, there's barely any to speak of. Take 10 doesn't eat brains, but do love flesh I suppose. I couldn't tell since most of this takes place off-screen. But they do kill together instead of hunting alone. They also conduct rituals inside a cave, where they cut their victim open and drink their blood. I'm not sure what this is supposed to do - I guess they make them one with this person - but it doesn't seem to work at all the two times they're shown doing it. So I don't get what the point of this whole thing either. Maybe this rituals makes them stay young, but I can't confirm that because the script doesn't know itself. So it fails as a zombie film.
As for the resolution of the film, it's just ridiculous. In fact, a lot of moments in this film in the Final Act really are laughably done. I won't say how the zombies can be destroyed, but you can pretty much guess how since they perform voodoo rituals. The problem with this is that the zombies' weakness doesn't appear until the moment it happens, with no explanation on how Shawn knew how to stop them or that the weakness even existed to begin with! And how does Shawn find out about Take 10? Not only does he hear Jonah's tape, but he goes inside Take 10's cave and finds a drawer with old photos of the group in their different incarnations through the years.
WHY WOULD THAT KIND OF INFORMATION BE INSIDE A CAVE?? IN A DRESSER, NO LESS???
I just laughed at how the information of Take 10's backstory was shared with the audience. I can't believe someone actually greenlit this screenplay. Unique concept but terrible execution.
DIRECTION - David DeCoteau's direction isn't the worst I've seen in my life. The picture does look nice and there is some bit of style every now and then. However, there are too many unnecessary montages throughout this film. When scenes transition, we get clips of a music video that Take 10 did with their original lead singer interspersed with the present action. Why is that needed? It doesn't add anything but grey hairs on my head. There's also a montage of Take 10 walking through some fog at night, with quick cuts and edits that had no place being there. And it lasted TWO FUCKIN' MINUTES!! Talk about filler! Also, we don't see the zombies eating people [I guess due to budget reasons]. And as with most modern DeCoteau films, RING OF DARKNESS has a bit of homoeroticism. Take 10 seem to do everything together: sing, dance, kill, and even have sex with groupies. Plus we get a lot of scenes of men shirtless and in tight underwear. It's not as blatant as in the BROTHERHOOD franchise, but it is there. No tension. No suspense. Not visually interesting either. This isn't DeCoteau's worst directed film, but I have seen him do a whole lot better.
EDGE FACTOR - RING OF DARKNESS is a very tame film. There's barely any edgy going for it. Hardly any foul language. While Ryan Starr is in a bikini and the male actors are shirtless every now and then, there's no sex scenes or nudity. As for violence, the only blood we see is when the victims of Take 10's sacrifice are cut with a knife. Other than that, nothing.
ACTING - The acting is mostly bland. Stephen Martines is probably the best actor as Shawn. He's not going to set the world on fire with his performance, but he's the highlight of an otherwise dead [no pun intended] cast. It seems like he cares about his character and attempts to make the most of it. He honestly deserved to be in a much better film. Baywatch's Jeremy Jackson has a monotone delivery but he wasn't annoying or anything. He tried at least. Adrienne Barbeau probably needed a paycheck because she seemed bored, or embarrassed, while playing Alex. The worst actor, by far, had to American Idol Season One contestant, Ryan Starr. Wow, this girl is really terrible. Not only was her acting not convincing, but I could barely understand 95% of what she was saying most of the time. It's like Starr was talking with a flesh colored microphone in her mouth. If she wasn't decent looking, her performance would be a complete disaster.
MUSIC - There are some generic rock and pop songs in the film. The biggest culprit, however, is Take 10's signature song. It plays a total of 7 times in the film - 4 or 5 times within the first 25 minutes. It's not a great song and it gets really old right away. If I had to pick the most horrifying thing about this movie, this song is probably it.
THE FINAL HOWL
RING OF DARKNESS is just a really awful film. It's a zombie film that barely has zombies. It has boy band music that's terrible. It has actors that have no right acting in a film like this. And as B-movie horror, it fails to scare and be cheesy enough to be so bad that it's good. I'm saying bye, bye, bye, to RING OF DARKNESS as it goes into the WTF? Vault where it will never be watched again by me and hopefully all of you as well. And it won't even get to kiss my ass. I have a feeling Take 10 will like that too much.
0.5 Howls Outta 4