Rings for the new generation serves up some scares, ditching VHS for the convenience of a laptop or iphone.
Rings is the third installment of the American The Ring franchise, based on the Japanese horror film from 1998 Ringu. It’s an urban legend: If you watch a VHS tape that contains a series of images, you will receive a phone call a few seconds later from a girl who says, “Seven days”. After that, start getting rid of your things, say goodbye to your loved ones, and live life to your fullest bucket list, because on day seven you will die.Rings opens on an airplane. A fratty guy with a bloody nose starts telling a cute blonde college girl sitting across from him about this weird video he watched a week ago. As the turbulence shakes the passengers, he says, “I just need to get through the next five minutes”. Cut to all the monitors on the plane flashing to a mysterious well with a creepy girl standing in front of it and the plane shakes some more. Welcome to Rings, the modern millennial sequel to The Ring.
A pretty girl (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) and her pretty boyfriend (Alex Roe) are living life pretty pretty, in a small town covered in dark grey skies and purple leaves. Boyfriend is off to college and girlfriend is sad to see him go. He gives her the shirt off his back (literally) before taking off to party at his university, promising to skype her every day. Suddenly, boyfriend goes missing and girlfriend starts getting weird calls and texts from other girls screaming. Hmmm. Girlfriend goes to the college and asks around, and boyfriend is nowhere to be found. Girlfriend learns about a mysterious video tape that college kids are watching, threatening their lives within seven days. She ultimately watches a copy made, conveniently on a laptop (thank god she didn’t have to go all the way to a cheap motel to watch a VHS tape). The video she watches contains new images never seen before. Flashes of lots of crosses, bugs, flooding water, and more crosses. She embarks on a mystery ala Naomi Watts in the first The Ring to figure out what the images in the video mean, and how she can save her life in seven days.
What made 2002’s The Ring so good was the fantastic cinematography and beautiful direction from Gore Verbinski. Naomi Watts made a great lead and she served as the film’s detective in a plot that was fresh and new. When watching The Ring, you never really knew if the myth was true or not, making the final five minutes shocking. This time around, the film is shot in such dark filters it’s sometimes hard to see what is even going on, in fact, we feel like Vincent D’Onofrio’s blind character must feel like walking around his house that’s falling apart. The leads are utterly forgettable but pretty to look at. Kind of like a stale remake of the first one, Rings follows a paint by numbers plot that never really rises above. The beginning is great, the end is greater, and everything in between is just okay.
Did Rings really have to come out now? No. The Ring offerings of the late 90’searly 00’s were excellent and effective, coming out in a time where technology was new, and VHS was still very much a thing. Fast-forward to just fifteen years later, and DVD’s came and went. Rings promises something new in 2017 with modern technology and icloud’s capable of sharing scary scenes in just a second. Rings never fully delivers what it promises, but it serves up some standard classic horror sequences and offers a new side plot involving a blind priest serving up some serious Law & Order: SVU drama.
While The Ring is exceptional, Rings is good. Go grab a bag of popcorn, a soda, and hold your significant other’s hands during some scary sequences while your brain is on auto-pilot during this stale and often times scary horror sequel. Make sure not to look Samara in the eye, or you just might get a phone call right after the movie from a high pitched voice muttering, “Seven days”.
Here is the trailer: