Another franchise looking to reboot after a ten-year-plus absence (because that’s worked out so well for other films in the last year.) Yes, Rings looks to continue what Gore Verbinski started in 2002, adapting the Japanese sensation Ringu and creating quite the phenomenon. This caused Sony to adapt Ju-On into The Grudge, cashing in on the Japanese horror craze and in 2005 a sequel to The Ring came with Hideo Nakata at the helm, the man who made the original Ringu. The result was a horrible mess that stopped the franchise dead in its tracks, like its seven days were up and it was time to die – kind of like in the movies, right? So, with this information given, Rings sounds like an ill-advised attempt to cash in on something that no one wants or even cares about at this point.
Rings opens, of all places, on a plane with a sweaty young man on the seventh day of what I’m calling the “Samara Challenge” because, apparently, the video ghost wraith has been killing people for over ten years since the last film. The plane crashes and the man’s belongings, including a VCR containing the tape, end up at a thrift stand and purchased by a university professor (The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki) who watches it and creates a secret course around it. As his students start to die around him, the girlfriend of one of his students looks to be the key to unlocking everything and possibly ending the curse for good.
No Naomi Watts this time around, nor even a mention of her, as we are thrown in with the newbies: a Jessica Alba lookalike (Matilda Lutz), and a Dave Franco doppelganger (Alex Roe, seen in last year’s dud The 5th Wave). Rebooting with a new young cast isn’t really an issue but what Rings needed to do was give us a reason to come back to this evil that really felt wrapped up by The Ring Two, no matter how bad it was. Nothing about Rings felt like new ground but rather an extension to what we’ve seen already and one that didn’t feel organic. This was definitely a tacked on money grab.
I think what bothers me the most about Rings is the uninspired leap it took, as Paramount struggled for years to bring this franchise back to the big screen, probably shelving other well-written projects in favor of it. There was nothing surprising or intricate about the story within the film and some parts seemed almost lifted from other recent horror movies, which is probably the reason the release date was shifted four different times. It feels like the Hollywood studio system is hell bent on snuffing out the horror genre by drowning the audience in mediocre big budget sequels, prequels and remakes. Nothing new to see here because if you’ve seen Samara climb out of the television once, well, you’ve basically seen all this franchise can offer. 2/5