Ring Of Darkness (2004)

How not to further your post- American Idol career…

by Adam Miller


Were it not for the film’s outlandish concept and incessant homoerotic imagery, RING OF DARKNESS (2004) would be the most forgettable of Z “horror” films. In the film, a boy band knock-off of NSYNC/Backstreet Boys/et al is actually a voodoo zombie cult that feeds off the flesh of the living to maintain a youthful appearance. The opening scene features the band’s frontman trying to escape from his occult brethren only to be surrounded and mauled. This presents a problem for the remaining bandmates who must now replace their devoured frontman.

Cue the American Idol rip off. A small assembly of “teenage” girls gather in what appears to be a used-car parking lot to watch the band audition potential lead singers. One of the auditionees has brought along his girlfriend played by Ryan Starr of American Idol non-fame (she was a season one contestant). Starr’s presence got me to buy the film (though more for hopes of seeing another FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY [2003] than any titillation at seeing Starr’s lithe figure). Suffice it to say that Starr cannot act. In fact, she seems to have trouble even enunciating. Whole lines of dialogue were spoken that I couldn’t understand. It was almost as if her jaw were wired shut. Very strange.

Eventually three auditionees are picked to go to the boy band’s private resort. Most of the auditionees get eaten and it is eventually revealed that the band boys are villainous zombies (they’re flesh peels off in some comically bad make-up work). In a wacky resolution, the zombies are killed when the sole surviving auditionee tosses random voodoo dolls into a fire. The film at no point establishes any connection between the zombies and these dolls—much less how the hero could know that destroying the dolls would destroy the zombies.

So if the “outlandish concept” doesn’t entice you, perhaps the homoeroticism will. The film takes (and in many cases makes) every opportunity to flash young men’s toned abdomens at the viewer. This is done most provocatively in the boy band’s music video which is aired, uncut, towards the beginning of the film (lots of gyrating and tummy rubbing). There are also the bizarre ritual scenes in which young, half naked men are tied to a table and then smeared with blood by the boy band zombies.

Not much happens in this movie. It never scares nor provides any intentional comedy. Even if seeing toned male bodies is your thing, I feel like you could do much better than RING OF DARKNESS.

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