Thursday, 16 February 2017

Rings (2017): Review

Rings is a 2017 supernatural horror film. Directed by F. Javier Gutierrez (Before the Fall) and starring Matilda Lutz (Summertime), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket). The film is the third entry in the American franchise, itself a remake of Ringu (1998).

The film begins with an aeroplane crash linked to the mysterious Samara videotape. Several years later, college professor Gabriel Brown obtains the videotape and Samara’s curse soon starts circulating around the students. This includes Holt, boyfriend of Julia (Lutz) who starts to investigate after not hearing from him in some time. She discovers that a group of students, and Gabriel, have been copying the video and passing the curse along to other people who they refer to as “tails”. However, after Julia herself watches the video, she sets out on a mission to discover Samara’s true origins and end the curse once and for all.

So, after several delays, the belated third entry in the American Ring franchise arrives 12 years after the last entry. In terms of authenticity, it feels very faithful to the original masterpiece (surely one of the greatest English language remakes) and replicates the unique look and feel of Gore Verbinski’s direction. Gutierrez is clearly a talented director with technical flair and the franchise has visually never looked better. The scares are there, and they’re pretty familiar as far as the franchise goes but there were still some neat twists and the atmosphere of the film is undeniable. Also, I personally got a kick out of seeing the infamous tape on the big screen as it’s always had a very unsettling effect on me.

The question you always have to come back to with sequels (and especially threequels) is this, is it necessary? And in this case, I’m afraid it is a definite no. Other than the slight update in technology, which somewhat conflicts with the decision to retain the vhs premise, it hits all the same beats as the original film albeit with a cast and a script that pales in comparison. Much of the cast appears to have been hired for being young and sexy rather than any actual ability, The ring franchise not traditionally being either of these things, and when your strongest performance comes from someone in The Big Bang Theory (a true horror) you know you’re in trouble. Credit should be given to the great Vincent D’Onofrio for his attempt at the Brian Cox character from the original but, unfortunately, the films production delays have now rendered this a pastiche of last year’s Don’t Breathe.

A hell of a lot better than Hideo Nakata’s The Ring Two (forgive me Hideo!) but still standing in the awesome shadow of a modern horror classic, Rings frustratingly offers new scares whilst also overexposing a horror icon. The already convoluted backstory becomes incomprehensible in a shallow attempt to wring every last drop from the franchise and it really is a shame. Hardcore franchise fans, or newcomers, will find things to enjoy but, for me, it left me colder than the bottom of Samara’s well.

** 2 Stars

What did you think of the film? Is this an unnecessary sequel?


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