Rings Movie Review

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Today I get to talk about a movie I wasn’t necessarily excited for. I wasn’t excited for this movie at all. I can’t say I’m a big fan of this franchise, and I don’t even particularly care for the one that seems to be generally appreciated which is 2002’s The Ring, the American remake of the original film. I’m not a big horror fan in general, but I do have a few franchises that I love. This is not one of them. This movie was also pushed back further and further as we drew closer to the release, and after expecting an October of 2016 release, we ended up getting it in early February of 2017. It’s never a great sign to see a movie moved back like that. I think it’s safe to say that I had some low expectations, if you would even consider what I had “expectations” at all. Anyways, I did get a chance to see it, so let’s talk about Rings!

Rings is directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez and stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Bonnie Morgan. A college-age girl gets more than she bargains for….. yada yada yada…… seven days…….. she watches the tape……. she’s off on a mission to save herself and her one-dimensional boyfriend.

We had a good year for horror in 2016. Why can’t every year be like 2016? So far this year we’ve had The Bye Bye Man, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and Rings, and suffice it to say that we’ve had three duds. No. We’ve had three atomic stink bombs. Rings is just another conventional horror movie with bad performances, one-dimensional characters, a plot that isn’t quite sure where it’s going, and a key missing element of fear. If I’m about to fall asleep during a horror movie, that’s not good. As much as I don’t like horror, I always feel that if I have a little bit of trouble sleeping after a horror movie, the film did its job. Something was effective enough that it stuck with me. I can’t say that about Rings. If I wasn’t between two people, I probably would have pulled all of the arm rests on the theater chairs up and slept horizontally on about five different seats. We start off with an airplane scene that completely defies any mythology that has been set up prior to this installment in the franchise. The first three minutes of the film were released online, and it’s exactly what it looks like. It’s a poorly written sequence that doesn’t follow any shape or form of continuity and wrecks a key part of the lore. After the opening scene, we cut to Leonard from The Big Bang Theory who is far more interested in a VHS player than anyone I’ve seen in this millennium. In fact, if his character, a biology teacher, wasn’t so interested in a piece of equipment that has been outdated for multiple decades, we wouldn’t have seen well over half of this film because it wouldn’t have happened. Thankfully someone buys those old VHS players at swap meets. I always wondered why people tried to sell those. I try to stay as far away as possible so that the dust accrued from twenty years of sitting in a garage doesn’t go deep into my sinuses. Anyways, the rest of the film consists of us seeing the same video sequence over and over again until the audience isn’t even interested in the contents anymore. Rings relies on something from fifteen years ago that terrified the heck out of people, but it uses it over and over again until it’s not scary anymore.

There are so many convenient devices as well. Again, continuity would be great, but this movie doesn’t make important shots important. It doesn’t let anything fester or develop, so nothing is memorable, and nothing is consistent. It all builds up to a finale that was so off-kilter and so nonsensical that I left the theater genuinely upset. We actually get sequel set up at the end of this film, and because of the way the horror world works, we’re probably going to see a sequel. This movie was made for a small amount of money, but it will probably make just enough to get another film into production. My theater was packed with kids late at night who turned to each other when the credits began to roll and asked each other if they would be able to sleep that night. Sleep was a serious concern for some of these kids after this movie. Sleep wasn’t even a problem for me while I was watching the film let alone later that night, and I’ll fully admit to being one of the biggest horror wusses I know. Rings does have a few rays of light. I thought that F. Javier Gutiérrez composed the shots well, and Rings is a good-looking movie. The visuals create a great tone, but the story and lore is so dead that I never fully engaged in the creepiness. I’d love to see Gutiérrez take on an original property because I think he showed promise. There are also a couple of times where I thought the story took an interesting turn, and I was on board for a few minutes. Turns out I was going to be let down shortly after, but for a second I was intrigued.

Overall, Rings is another conventional horror movie from a long-dead franchise. Somehow it managed to crawl out the well with its feet above its head, but it needs to crawl back in. Maybe in the sequel the main character will be this franchise and Samara can come through a television and kill it. We can only hope. This movie throws all continuity out the window with relentlessly tired sequences that are supposed to be scary. After I saw the video played forward, backward, left to right, right to left, at half speed, and at double speed, I lost interest. There’s probably even a director’s cut of the creepy video in here somewhere. I shouldn’t be able to fall asleep while watching a scary movie, but I wanted to doze off and dream about better horror. A nightmare would have been a relief. My main saving grace in this film is the promise that F. Javier Gutiérrez shows if he could get his own franchise. He composes shots well and creates a great tone. Vincent D’Onofrio was also good, but it’s still nothing new from him. He’s an actor who transforms, so I’m not crazy for expecting a different performance. Instead I saw Wilson Fisk crossed with Stephen Lang from Don’t Breathe. I’m going to give Rings a 2/10.

This is one of those cases where January boiled over into February. Will you be seeing Rings? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! I hope that you had a better time with it than I did! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]