Gina Phillips is such a major hottie that I’d watch a 12 hour documentary about the making of government cheese if it afforded me at least a glimpse of her every twenty minutes or so. Luckily, we don’t have to wait that long to see her in Ring Around the Rosie, as she’s pretty much in every scene, despite the fact that she’s listed as the “And” star, as in “Tom Sizemore, Randall Batinkoff, Jenny Mollen AND Gina Phillips. The “And” spot is usually reserved for revered Hollywood types (ie: old) or child actors, but, seeing as how Phillips is neither, I’m just going to assume she drew the shortest straw when it came time to assemble the credits.
Phillips plays Karen, a distant woman with a haunted past whose dearly departed grandmother’s final request to her was to clean out her house so it could be sold (thanks grandma. Do you want me to embalm you while I’m at it?). The DVD’s packaging describes said house as a spooky rundown mansion, but it’s actually a new-ish looking Swiss chalet that looks to have had regular maid-service, save for the obligatory white sheets covering the odd chair and bureau. Karen’s grandparents must have been simple folk, too, as all of the furnishings look remarkably like the industrial grade stuff I get when I rent condos to go skiing, and, with the exception of a few paintings that could just as well be hanging in a dentist’s office, the place is otherwise positively Spartan. My grandmother’s house was hip deep with old newspapers, scary dolls, and more pictures than the Louvre, but, then again, my grandmother didn’t have an Ikea futon in her living room.
Karen and her boyfriend…oh, let’s call him Jacques, ‘cause his role is so small and pointless that it’s not even worth looking at the IMDB…well, they head up to the chalet…umm…mansion and prepare for the laborious task of packing what amounts to a few shoeboxes worth of scrap paper and Polaroids. Karen reminisces about her youth, has trouble being intimate, and suffers some sort of psychic attack from a shadowy man. The next day, Pablo (see? I already forgot the name I made up for him. He’s that inconsequential) goes back to the city, and Karen, apparently at peace with the fact that the house is haunted, stays on by herself to finish cleaning up.
Later that day, Karen meets Pierce (Sizemore), a seemingly mildly retarded employee of Karen’s grandmother. Apparently, Pierce has been around for quite some time, but Karen’s never met him before (nice to know she was so close to granny. No wonder she got the clean-up gig!), and now has to inform him that the house is being sold. Pierce stares at her menacingly, but then offers her a half-smile, as if to say “it’s okay, I’ll just come up here and knife you later.”
Personally, if I saw Tom Sizemore anywhere on my property, I’d hand him all of my valuables and run screaming into the night.
Karen is attacked by ghosts again-this time of the “wind blowing” variety-and finds herself running through a second story window and falling right into Pierce’s arms. Too frightened to go back in the house, Karen accepts Pierce’s equally terrifying offer to sleep in his bed.
The next day, reinforcements arrive in the guise of Karen’s younger sister…umm…let’s call her Gidget…and Karen, despite the fact that she was nearly killed by a ghost the night before, returns to the house to finish cleaning.
From there, a sort of bizarre relationship forms between Gidget and Pierce, and, despite the fact that he saved her life (twice in fact), Karen takes objection to it. After a couple of more ghost attacks, Karen begins to suspect that Pierce is somehow behind them, and tries to convince her sister that the guy is bad news.
If I go any further I’ll reveal the ending, which, while predictable, is pretty much one of the only things Ring Around the Rosie does right (not to mention one of the few moments in the film that could be classified as horror). While the performances are actually quite solid (although, to be fair, Sizemore doesn’t have to do much to look like a psycho these days), and the film looks nice, I was actually sort of blown away by how tame Ring Around the Rosie is, especially for an R-rated “horror” film. There aren’t any truly effective scares, hardly any gore to speak of, and not a shred of skin. And nothing really happens...ever!
Ring Around the Rosie is such an innocuous film that I can neither trash it or recommend it, so it gets one skull for Gina Phillips. I guess it had to be entertaining on some other level, because I watched it all the way through. Then again, I’ve been known to clear off plates of lousy food just because I can’t stand to see anything go to waste.
The DVD from Sony features a whole bunch of trailers for other Sony releases, including one for a “political thriller” starring Jerry Springer as the President, but nothing else. Still, that Springer trailer was easily one of the most entertaining extras I’ve seen in ages, and infinitely more resonant than Ring Around the Rosie.