Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Starring: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Bonnie Morgan , Aimee Teegarden
I’d like to think that I pay close enough attention to pop culture, specifically film, to know what is trendy and popular. I don’t remember reading or hearing about a move to keep making additional entries in The Ring franchise. The first film was released in 2002 and was a remake of a Japanese film. It spawned a sequel in 2005, and somehow now we have a follow-up sequel. It isn’t necessarily a reboot as it acknowledges there is a past to this story. If you remember, the premise involved a supernatural VHS tape that was cursed for whomever viewed it. After you watched the short video featuring a creepy girl named Samara who pops out of a well, you would get a phone call from an eerie voice stating you would die in seven days. Now that it’s 2017, everything’s gone digital. Johnny Galecki, best known for The Big Bang Theory, plays college professor Gabriel who buys a used VCR at some sort of rummage sale. It’s not all that clear, but the sole reason why it’s included is to give Gabriel a reason to come in contact with the tape. He attempts to get the VCR working and the video starts to play on all of his screens and devices. Try not to be too bored yet with this premise as it only gets worse.
The film cuts to Julia (Lutz) and Holt (Roe), a young couple passionately fooling around together on the last night before Holt has to head back to his college campus. Two horny teens are always featured in bad horror films. As the days pass on, Julia can’t seem to get a hold of Holt. She gets bizarre messages from his frat mates and another female friend of his. A frustrated Julia heads to campus attempting to track Holt down. Her not-so-slick ways of getting to the bottom of it leads her to one of his classes where Gabriel just happens to be his instructor. What she comes to find out is that he is also the leader of this experimental secret society type group who is investigating the origin and aftermath effects of people who watch the tape. Julia finds Holt among the members of this group. After some painfully non-scary moments and stupid choices on her end, Julia winds up being another victim of Samara’s video. The catch is that her video is longer and contains previously unseen footage. Again, try not to roll your eyes too hard yet at this premise. It’s a race against the clock for Julia, Holt, and Gabriel try to track down Samara’s origins in order to what? Save themselves? Save humanity? Lay Samara to rest?
So many questions rolled around in my head throughout Rings as a way to understand what was even happening before my eyes. Why are we getting a follow up to The Ring in 2017? Was there something new to be had with this franchise? The answer is no. Moving on. In order to set it in the current day they had to ditch the whole VHS concept and make it digital yet somehow the three person writing team felt the need to make Johnny Galecki’s character, Gabriel, get into physical contact with the tape and a VCR. I’m assuming most of the teens seeing Rings will have no idea what a VCR is. Couldn’t they simply have cut that and instead have him come in contact with a bootleg viral video that was popping up on the internet? My other question is why is Johnny Galecki in this movie to begin with? This is the kind of movie you make to get a paycheck. Galecki is one of the highest paid actors on TV thanks to his tenure on The Big Bang Theory. I can’t imagine that he’s that hard up for cash that he needs to star in Rings.
The whole plot device of having Gabriel working on some sort of experimental process involving Samara and the video isn’t fully utilized. At one point, he mentions that each person has a tail that’s following them. The idea of tails is not fully explained unless that’s some description from the first film that I’m forgetting. Is the audience supposed to be kept in the dark about this? Apparently the writers don’t care enough, because once Julia and Holt search out for Samara’s origins the concept of the experiments and tails is completely forgotten about. It’s as if Rings completely changes course for the second half of the movie. This leads to the other random casting in the film with Vincent D’Onofrio as Galen Burke. We’re introduced to him as the crazy blind man in town who has a history with the village. Rings thinks it’s being clever by involving a twist with his character, but it’s completely unoriginal and uninspired.
Rings is a tragically unnecessary film that attempts to reboot a horror franchise when it wasn’t needed. It is further proof that the horror genre is actually really hard to do well. We see feeble attempts like Rings all the time. F. Javier Gutiérrez fails at bringing any true scares to keep this film going. He goes so far as to try to make the opening of an umbrella scary, and it’s laughable at best. Yes, you read that correctly. Umbrellas are made to be scary in Rings. That’s the kind of movie this is.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It’s safe to assume this will be on my worst of the year list.
RATING: 1/2 out of 5 TICKET STUBS