Rings may be better known as The Ring 3 since it’s the third movie about the enigmatic and acrobatic, Samara. Rings has been underway for a long time, but was it worth the wait?
Unfortunately, when it comes to Rings, the answer is a definite no.
As it tends to be the case for any popular horror franchise, the rumors of a third The Ring movie has been around forever. The rumors turned into reality when it was announced that Rings would be released in November 2015.
Well, November 2015 came and went without Rings being released. New release dates ensued and then during the summer of 2016, it was revealed that reshoots were being made. Whether those shoots improved the final products is unknown, but as of February 2017, Rings is finally here.
But do we even need a The Ring 3 movie? Well, any good story can easily continue and evolve. Unfortunately, Rings is not an example of this being the case.
Now, we don’t tend to be very negative here at Heaven of Horror. As a rule, we have no problem with remakes, reboots, and tons of sequels. As long as the story is still there, mind you. With Rings, we get a very good idea of why many people hate sequels.
At the very least, I was hoping for a nostalgic moment or two, and an entertaining movie. I can’t say Rings delivers on either.
If you haven’t watched the two first The Ring movies, then a quick Google search will offer you various recaps. However, Rings can easily be watched on its own. Especially since references – and scenes – from the previous movies do show up.
Besides, just as was the case with Blair Witch, this sequel is coming out so long after the original that a new generation of horror movie fans is now old enough to go to the movie theater for this. So it really does need to stand on its own.
Still, I can imagine you’ll want to watch the previous movies – especially the first one – after watching Rings. Especially since you do end up feeling nostalgic about seeing Samara again. Unfortunately, it’s in the “Everything was better in the old days”-way.
Has the VCR become a retro object?
Because Rings takes place in the present, you’ll find some cute remarks about the absolutely ancient VCR. It’s very appropriate and works, even if the scene where this banter takes place, is very strange. While watching it, you won’t really know what the relationship between these two characters is. And the scene afterward doesn’t help much either.
However, the VCR debate does tie into the opening scene, which takes place onboard a plane and has been released as a teaser for Rings – you can watch it right here:
While this opening scene is very entertaining, it is also very much a movie within the movie, which is a concept for Rings in general. However, it doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the storyline. Not really. And honestly, it’s much more reminiscent of Final Destination than it is The Ring adjacent.
Oh yeah, and I have no idea why the relatively young man from the opening scene would own a VCR and a collection of blockbuster movies on videotape. I mean, come on, the retro vinyl love hasn’t exactly happened to the VCR and videotapes. Even though this is what they’ll have us believe. Oh well, maybe it’s underway as I write this.
Rings is both current and hopelessly outdated
No matter the state of videotape and VCR popularity, the videotape is being transferred to a digital version in Rings. Other than that, the concept is the same; Once you’ve watched the movie, you have to make a copy and get someone else to watch it. Only then will you escape the curse of Samara.
This was also the concept for It Follows [passing the curse on to someone else to escape it], though the transfer of the curse happened quite differently. Also, with that particular movie, something new was actually introduced.
Rings takes place in the present and we’re exposed to Skype and fast copying of the new digital movie, which is being shared via a USB drive in place of a videotape. However, a smartphone is used mainly as a flashlight. What is up with that?!
All these super modern and “current” horror movies with their use of “current” technology, but no one ever uses Google?
When in doubt about something or trying to find answers to any question, you Google it. Especially if your life is in danger and your survival depends on getting answers fast.
Still, the worst part of Rings is the constant need to really spell things out for us. We tend to get at least one character actively stating what we’ve just been informed of in some other way. Person A will very solemnly state “The butler did it!”. All the while you’re sitting there thinking; Yes, the butler just plunged a knife into the victim. I think I got the fact that the butler did it.
It’s annoying and dumbing down everything. Also, it happens several times!
A director with a fresh perspective
Rings was directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez, who previously wrote and directed the apocalyptic Before the Fall in 2008. He’s a Spanish director and Rings is his first feature film since Before the Fall. In other words, he doesn’t just push out movies all the time.
Before the Fall (the original Spanish title is Tres Días) was a critically acclaimed movie that won F. Javier Gutiérrez several awards. Including at horror film festivals like ScreamFest.
Basically, this should mean he had every chance to make another great movie. And while Rings is a perfect way to reach a much larger audience, I can’t imagine there’s much left of his original vision.
And everything we hoped Blair Witch would deliver but didn’t quite, I was hoping Rings would now bring. It simply did not. In fact, Blair Witch is much better.
The script for Rings was written by Jacob Estes and David Loucka. Jacob Estes had his feature film debut as a writer and director with Mean Creek in 2004. It’s more of a “crime drama” than “horror drama”, but it is damn good. Also, it shows Estes’ ability to write about the darker parts of human nature. David Loucka has written more hardcore horror with House at the End of the Street (2012) and Dream House (2011).
Impressive names among the cast
Samara is once again portrayed by the immensely and impressively flexible, Bonnie Morgan. She first played the part of Samara in The Ring 2 and is as flexible as ever, which you’ve probably seen in various clips from the movie already. No CGI, just Bonnie Morgan being amazing!
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the rest of the cast, which consists of several actors I really like. Their characters are either boring or pretty stereotypical.
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) does have an interesting character, but we never get enough from him to understand his motives. Not really, anyway, which results in him being very one-dimensional. The always enigmatic Vincent D’Onofrio (The Cell) is okay, but his character is just so typically him, that you feel like you’ve seen it all before.
The star of the movie is Mathilda Lutz, but her character is just plain boring. Full stop. Everything she has to work with is flat and uninspiring, to begin with, but she doesn’t make it better. Aimee Teegarden (Scream 4) is almost the only exception to the boring performances. She has some great scenes, but unfortunately, she’s not a very big part of the movie.
This could have been a great addition to The Ring franchise, but it simply isn’t. However, there is some new information on the origin of Samara, and for this reason alone, you should actually check out Rings. Just make sure you don’t expect too much because then you will be disappointed.
Rings is being released worldwide and hits US theaters on February 3, 2017.
Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Writer: David Loucka, Jacob Estes, Akiva Goldsman, Kôji Suzuki (based on the novel by)
Cast: Matilda Lutz, Aimee Teegarden, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alex Roe, Laura Wiggins, Bonnie Morgan
A young woman finds herself getting caught up in the curse that threatens to take your life in exactly 7 days.