Released: 3 February 2017 (USA)
Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Screenplay: David Loucka, Jacob Estes, Akiva Goldsman
Actors: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio
Julia becomes worried about her boyfriend, Holt, when he explores the dark urban legend of a mysterious video said to kill the watcher seven days after viewing. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before.
So, before I go into my review of the Rings, I have to discuss just how much I love The Ring. The Ring successfully scared me when I first saw it; I thought Samara was wickedly badass and a terrifying specter I never, ever wanted to meet. I hadn’t properly been frightened in a while, and I haven’t had much affect me in a similar way since. The Ring is a beautiful horror movie–in that it’s so well put together and aesthetically pleasing to a fiend like me. I also read all of the books by Koji Suzuki when I got into high school, so I have a pretty positive, longstanding relationship with the universe cultivated around this story. I was a youngin’ when the first movie came out, so I obviously didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters, so I was pretty excited to see Samara on the big screen if only for a trip down memory lane. That may color my perception of some events in the film.
Now, you should know that Rings isn’t a spectacular horror movie. It’s pretty average. It’s nowhere near as brilliant as The Ring, though it is slightly better than The Ring 2. I was a bit worried going in that it would be flat out horrendous, especially because the movie’s release date had been pushed back at least three times. You should also know that if you happened to see one of the first trailers of the movie, you know literally everything that’s going to happen in this film. I’m not going to spoil it here, because that would be shitty, but because I’d seen the trailer, I thought I was in for a totally different movie. When it turned out that the movie ended on the note shown in the trailer, I was so confused. It, of course, acts as a set up into another movie (if the industry decides to fund it–Rings hasn’t done that well in the box office).
On to the movie. Aside from being a bit disappointed by the trailer, I was severely underwhelmed by the romance in this movie. I didn’t really care about the relationship between Julia and Holt. It would have made for a stronger movie, in my opinion, if the movie centered around Julia and her supposedly sick mother (who is mentioned once and then completely disappears into thin air). It would have been a great continuation on the themes present in the first two movies, but would have added a twist in that it was between a woman and her mother.
The acting in this was okay. No one was spectacular, but no one was outright terrible either. Again, I didn’t really care about the relationships discussed in the movie, and I thought that it was a bit convenient that Julia just happened to be special to Samara with absolutely no explanation. I think having a reason (i.e. relationship with her mother, etc) would have made that aspect of the film stronger. The reason given (by her boyfriend) is that she was never afraid of Samara, but that’s not true. She was terrified when she first encountered Samara.
On that note, there are plenty of plot holes in this movie–not only the whole “you’re magically special, Julia.” There’s a lot of play with the information given to us in the first two movies–Rings feels more like a beginning to a new franchise that takes the bare bones of Samara’s background, which makes the movie feel a bit disjointed in certain parts. And it’s not scary–it barely reaches creepy. It’s a lot more like a mystery than a horror movie.
I did, however, appreciate the feel of this movie in some moments. The addition made to the tape or footage that was specific to Julia was just as creepy and beautiful as the original footage. I also enjoyed the moments in the beginning that felt subtly noir-like (example: the rain ‘falling’ up while Johnny Galecki stared out the window after having seen the tape the first time). That feeling was eventually lost–it would have been nice to have seen it carried out throughout the movie. And , naturally, I enjoyed the moments with Samara. She looked great.
So, do I think it’s worth watching? Especially for a Ring fan? I’m hesitant to say. If you know you’re not going to feel nostalgic, and if you’re a super fan of the first movie, you might be disappointed. You might even hate it. It’s a lot more cheesy than The Ring (I mean–the opening scene was ridiculous) and you’re probably not going to give a shit about any of the characters. If you do think you’ll feel a level of nostalgia and want to see Samara on the big screen, you’re probably not going to hate it. And, the movie might be fun to watch with a group of friends around Halloween–but I’d honestly suggest the first movie any day of the week.
Have you seen Rings? What did you think?
Until next time, stay scary.