Review: 'Rings' Starring Matilda Lutz And Alex Roe

The new trend in movies seems not to be reboots and remakes but sequels to years old films. Generally, if there’s going to be a sequel you have a 2-3 year window but we’re seeing more and more films pop up in the 8 years and more range. It worked with Scream 4 a few years back, you could see how it would, give the story some time to breathe and the world to change a bit, then adapt your story for the new time. If there’s one horror film whose environment has changed the most over the past decade it would have to be The Ring (or Ringu for your purists). You come into possession of a video and after watching you receive a phone call telling you that in 7 days you’re dead, then a week later guess what? You’re dead. Media consumption, specifically the availability of it, has changed an incredible amount since the first movies were released so it seems like a no-brainer to introduce Samara to this new world. In the original you had to pass off the tape and get someone else to watch it to avoid being killed which was done via VHS tape. A physical thing of which there was only one which had to be popped in a VCR and played. We live in a world of instantly downloadable movies and viral video…can you imagine the playground Samara would have if her video went viral? So obviously there is some new ground to cover and this sequel, Rings, is warranted. Except for one part, they didn’t really take advantage of the vastly different multimedia world we now live in The film follows Julia (Matilda Lutz) and her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) who are having a long-distance relationship which is maintained by nightly Skype calls. Unbeknownst to Julia one of Holt’s professor’s, Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), is using the college and some of its students in the most disturbing experiment this side of the Standford Prison by showing the tape in an attempt to prove the human soul, or immortality, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. When Holt doesn’t show up for the nightly Skype call Julia goes looking for him, leading her right into the experiment where she views the tape. From there its business as usual, seven days to solve the mystery or you die.

I think the most disappointing aspect of Rings is the total disregard for all of the aforementioned technological advances. The tape is still the main way to bring Samara into your life and nothing past that is really examined. I mean, if the answer is something along the lines of the physical celluloid tape becoming cursed thus making it the only way to convey then that’s fine but there needs to be some explanation as to why Samara isn’t trending on Twitter, I’m fine with Ghosts not going digital but you need to let the audience know that there’s a reason. There’s just so many places they could have gone with it but instead chose to do an almost total rehash of the original. Once the film gets going and launches into detective mode Julia only discovers what Naomi Watt’s character discovered in the first film adding a little spice to the end (no spoilers), but it’s done so in a way that almost feels like they made the movie and said “Wait a second, we just made the same exact movie” “Ok, add these details to the end and we have something new”. There are just so many ways that this film could have been done differently, ways that weren’t unknown to the filmmaker as they are touched upon but never fleshed out. Hell, even a film that’s entirely focused on Johnny Galecki’s professor Gabriel and his experiment would have been great if fleshed out, but nope. The jump scares are there and the imagery is creepy as it ever was, but again, it already was. There are some video segments added but they feel more like deleted scenes of the first. I don’t think I can even give the film points for creepiness because, while the original Samara video is one of the most disturbing things one can watch, it’s not new…it stole its creep factor.

I generally don’t like to write about a film without highlighting both sides of the coin but in this case I really can’t. I suppose if you’re in the mood for a date movie that gets your girl or guy to hold on to you tight then this may be a pick for the weekend but that’s only because there are no other horror movies out. Unlike the tape in the film watching Rings isn’t going to kill you entirely, just the hour and 45 minutes you gave to watching. If there is one thing that can be done to make this film worth while it would be for other filmmakers to watch it and learn the lessons. When making a reboot, remake, or delayed sequel make sure to adapt the world you create to the one we are currently living in, take full advantage of any plot points that can be explored now that weren’t available then. Oh, and for God’s sake learn the difference between recapping the story so far and just retreading almost entirely.

1 out of 5 Guttenbergs