A young woman and her boyfriend must put an end to the cursed video tape, after a professor begins using it in a study, exposing countless people to the wrath of Samara. The third installment in the American franchise of The Ring, this film is a blanket attempt to reenergize the decade-old series. With little substance, scares or structure, Rings feels mindless and forgettable.
While looking through a vintage shop, professor Gabrielle Brown (Johnny Galecki) finds and purchases a VCR for posterity’s sake. When trying to fix it, he discovers a videotape inside and watches it, seeing disturbing images and static. After it’s over, he receives a mysterious phone call saying “seven days”, then notices some strange events.
Some time later, Julia (Matilda Lutz) sees her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) off for university. Soon after she becomes concerned when he stops responding to texts or answering calls. When she goes to find him at his college, she will discover that Gabrielle has turned the cursed tape into a study. Exposing many students to a possible death sentence so he can study it further, including her boyfriend.
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this film. Perhaps if it were a one-off movie, I would overlook some of its more awful parts and instead focus on the mildly terrible aspects. However, this is a franchise with everything served on a filmmaking silver plate – backstory, villain, motive (in a way), and mythology written in stone. Yet the filmmakers seemed to overlook all of that and just toss Samara into a story they developed that might fit into the series.
Let’s start off with the more artificial points. From the opening scene, a tone is set that makes the film kitchy and off balance. A pointless opener that would be better reserved for a mediocre television series, is placed to set the mood for a once spooktacular ghost tale. It also holds no importance to any further parts of the film. So what’s the reasoning behind this scene? Perhaps to forewarn the viewer of what’s to come.
From then on, structure is askew and character development ceases to exist. Without giving this a spoiler-worthy title, I’ll just say the plot takes on such convoluted turns that you can’t help but be puzzled by everything it brings. While a plot twist in the end, is a more redeeming quality to, the film still fails to deliver on it and seems like a heartless attempt to further the mythology around Samara. It simply feels disconnected.
Also, if you think this film will at all deliver the scares – it won’t. While it maybe houses two or three cheap jump scares, it, as a whole, is hardly haunting. Which is a shame considering Samara is inherently creepy. It’ll leave you eye-rolling constantly, especially with lackluster acting by people who fail to emote and deliver lines expressing what they’re going through (hello monotone!).
A film like this is the perfect example of why big studios shouldn’t be cash-grabbing from familiar horror franchises. There’s no interest in keeping it on par with its predecessors, sticking to the mythos – they’re only looking for recognition. It’s laughable that in my post-viewing research, I discovered this was an attempt to replace Paranormal Activity, with the studio hoping to start a new yearly tradition.
If you want to give it a shot, Rings is currently streaming on Hulu.