The most recent film I’ve had the displeasure of seeing was Rings, the reboot to the 2002 horror film The Ring (which was already a remake of a 1998 Japanese horror flick called Ringu).
The basic plot revolves around this bizarre and disturbing VHS tape that is full of weird imagery. When someone views this tape, they receive a phone call from a little girl named Samara who appears in the tape, telling them they will die in seven days. And sure enough in seven days time Samara will climb out of the television and kill you.
Right out of the gate Rings sets itself up to be a schlockfest. The opening scene takes place on a plane experiencing turbulence. Immediately one man on the plane begins chatting with a woman whom he does not know about a tape he watched, which told him he would die that night. What follows is a strange turn of events, as the evil tape starts playing on all the plane DVD players as well as massive amounts of blood starts leaking from the bathroom.I found this all to be extremely funny in a bizarre, schlocky sort of way.
Everyone talks in a indescribably weird way. I feel the screenwriter forgot to write the characters like they were actually human. Instead all of our protagonists have this distant dialogue that exists only to hurriedly push the plot along. On many occasions I caught myself asking, “Who would say that?” or “What an odd thing to say in this situation.”.
There were some genuinely good ideas toyed around with in Rings. The filmmakers introduce the concept that being murdered by the tape can be passed on to other individuals, similar to It Follows. I also liked that the film takes a scientific approach towards the evil entity, as some of the characters try to study and understand the tape.
Both our main characters (played by Matilda Lutz and Alex Roe) had very hammy performances. The seemed kind of stiff and alien like, most likely the result of very bad direction. Johnny Galecki (Leonard from The Big Bang Theory) even makes a surprising appearance in this film as a major protagonist. Galecki’s performance was much better than that of his costars, but even he had his bad moments.
One of the biggest problems I had with Rings is that we the audience are given little to no scariness or creepiness in the entire film. Comparatively, The Ring has this very eerie and unsettling vibe throughout the whole movie. As soon as the protagonist plays the tape, the film submerges itself in bizarre imagery. I remember being genuinely disturbed by The Ring in a good and entertaining way. Rings just feels like a cheap imitation of what was once good. For example, the creepy tape the protagonists watch in The Ring is legitimately scary. The tape is filled with freaky and naturally unsettling imagery. In Rings, you can tell they are trying way too hard to make you afraid of this tape.
Many of the scenes that are supposed to be scary just resort to tensionless jump scares. There is no build up or edge of your seat suspension like in good horror films. Just your classic, boring, cheap, overused, tiresome, asinine, not scary in the slightest, jump scare tactics.
The third act of the film surprisingly picked up and was far more interesting than the rest of the film. Some of the major pieces of Rings were finally in play and we got to see a neat little climax involving our characters. However the last two minutes or so of the film, like in many horror flicks, was horrible. The audience will be left completely unsatisfied and underwhelmed from a way too predictable ending.
So while their were some interesting aspects of Rings, it still begs the question of, “Why did this need to exist?”. The characters aren’t written very good, the dialogue is atrocious, and worst of all it just wasn’t scary. If you enjoy horror films that use jump scare tactics, this might be one for you to check out. If you’re like me and want to see a good horror film, just go watch The Ring.
The Verdict: D+