February, normally a lull in the film industry, includes many movies aiming to be the first “success” of 2017. “Rings,” the third film based on a book by Japanese author, Kôji Suzuki, titled “Ringu,” does not promise to be that film. Like many horror franchise reboots, it fails to live up to the original film.
Right from the beginning of the film, there are various disconnected character introductions. “Rings” starts with a plane crash that may have come out of the “Final Destination” series. The characters who die in this opening sequence are never given a story, leaving audience members to consider where this film falls related to the past two in the series. Julia, the main character (Matilda Lutz) and two other leads – Holt (Alex Roe) and Gabriel (The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki) – also have no backstory, and never get past being one-dimensional offerings to some of their inevitable dooms.
After the opening sequence and character introductions, the original VHS tape that was featured in the first two films ends up with a college professor, Gabriel. After he views the tape and receives the eerie phone call that foretells his impending demise in seven days, there are interesting cinematics, like a fly appearing out of cigarette ash and the rain outside falling up towards the sky, instead of the ground. These unique cinematics fit the tone at the moment, but are not continued throughout. It seems like the screenplay was directed by another filmmaker, as the cinematic quality significantly decreased over the course of the entire film.
The different plotlines take far too long to intertwine. The next time viewers see Gabriel or the VHS tape is when Julia visits her boyfriend, Holt. This is when she realizes that the film has been turned into a science experiment where many students watch the film for extra credit in Gabriel’s class. He has “beat” Samara, the figure that crawls through the television to kill her victims, by always having a “tail” for anyone who watches the film. A “tail” is a person who watches the video to end the seven day clock and start it for another person.
After the fallout of Gabriel’s experiment, Julia is the only person left who has watched the film, and she has no tail. The writers must have been inspired by “Inception” because when Julia watches the film, there is a “video inside the video.” The new footage takes Julia, Holt, and Gabriel on a quest of how to beat Samara, again. Since there was no character development, the film hereafter turns into a disjointed remake of “The Ring,” and ends disappointedly. This film is lacking in fundamental aspects throughout, and lost interest after about 20 minutes. The film had substantial potential in a unique adaptation set in modern day, but due to many plot holes, it lost that potential quickly. Considering there were three different writers who worked on this film, it is not surprising “Rings” lost its intensity and potential so early in the movie.
Unlike “Rings,” there are films that are genuinely scary and draw viewers into their universe. “The Woman in Black,” “The Conjuring,” and “Sinister” all come to mind quickly. They are scary and bring out real fear by drawing audience members into the lives of characters on screen. By developing these connections, the character’s loss and pain is felt more intensely by viewers. Since “Rings” does a poor job of this, the film relies on many cop-outs instead. In one scene, an umbrella is opened and there is a startlingly loud noise meant to scare viewers. This happens frequently and discredits any potential of later scares, but instead almost turns it into a comedy at times.
In the end, “Rings” is a replication of its original “The Ring,” just set with a video file instead of a VHS. Critics and viewers have disliked it, and only diehard fans of the franchise try to give the film some life. Our score for “Rings,” the latest installment in the “The Ring” franchise, is a disappointing 3.7 out of 10. We recommend that to view the review Sean and Jon did to hear more about these disappointments in detail by going to the YouTube Channel SZ Entertainment, and also see more reviews and content.
As the Oscar award ceremony for 2016 films is only a few weeks away, February 26, the focus for many critics now moves to 2017 films. “Split” was well received in January, and movies like “John Wick: Chapter 2,” “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The Great Wall” hope to have a greater impact than the disappointment that was “Rings.”