Who remembers The Ring (2002) & The Ring Two (2005)? I’ve tried my best to forget they exist. The first was slightly stronger but both committed what I consider to be the biggest crime in horror, being extremely boring. Nearly 13 years later, we have a sequel called Rings. Will it suffer the same fate or can it break the monotony curse?
The opening to this film sucks, it’s really terrible. You have two frantic people on a plane in a panic about the demonic tape. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose. There is water flooding from beneath doors and then the tape appears on monitors in front of every passenger. Then, the plane begins to crash. I have absolutely no idea what is happening in this scene.
It’s possible that one of the people had watched the tape and then been given 7 days to live. Just maybe they decided to get on a plane in an attempt to escape the inevitable. The 7 days rule is literally fundamental to how the whole thing plays out. Why would Samara kill an entire plane full of people who had only just seen a glimpse of it? How was it broadcast to each individual monitor? The whole thing plays out like a cheesy action flick, it’s impossible to take seriously.
I could go on but I found it easier to simply ignore this horrible introduction.
Anyway, college professor Gabriel buys an old VCR, discovering the videotape inside. Elsewhere, Julia sees her boyfriend Holt off to college, but becomes concerned when he falls out of contact. She is inspired to find him when a panicked girl, Skye, contacts her asking for Holt’s whereabouts. Julia meets Gabriel, following him to a private area of the college where a group of people are involved in an experiment involving the cursed video.
She recognizes Skye, who takes her to her apartment to have her watch the video, but Holt contacts Julia, warning her not to. Julia locks herself in the bathroom as Skye is murdered by Samara. Holt arrives shortly after. Unwilling to let Holt die, Julia watches the video, experiencing a vision of a door, and a mark is burnt on her hand. Turning to Gabriel for help, he notices Julia’s copy of the video is larger than usual. She watches it, discovering new footage hinting at the fate of Samara’s body.
Gabriel sends them to the town Sacrament Valley, where she was given a burial. Arriving in town, Julia and Holt travel to a church, exploring the graveyard for Samara’s stone. They find an unmarked tomb, but when they break in, they find it is empty.
Will they be able to solve the mystery before their time expires?
One thing I can say for certain about Rings when comparing it to the previous movies, it’s the best one in the trilogy. I found Julia & Holt to be generally quite likeable even if they have basically no development.
Even though the “tape” has been converted and uploaded as a video file, I found it funny that characters still referred to it as a “tape”. It hasn’t been a tape for a while; it just feels really out-dated to refer to it as such.
Considering this film comes so long after the previous one, I thought they did a good job of finalizing Samara’s story. That’s right; this is as much a reboot as it is a sequel to the previous movies. It continues the story about Samara and her origins but expands on it in an interesting way. Much like the other two, it suffers the fate of being annoyingly slow paced at times though.
As a whole, I enjoyed Rings far more than its predecessors. It doesn’t take too many risks but it does take the now out-dated killer VHS and puts a nice modern spin on it while still staying relevant to the series.
Unfortunately, it isn’t without faults. I’m not sure what it is about these movies but to me they utterly fail at being scary. Samara looks like something that should be terrifying but it just isn’t. I struggle to put my finger on why exactly this is. Has society & horror moved so far that a girl with long black hair draped across her face just doesn’t cut it anymore? It might have something to do with Julia & Holt who never react as terrified as they probably should. They act like having 7 days to live is a mere inconvenience rather than imminent death. Near the end they casually stay at a motel even though Julia has less than a day left.
I just can’t understand how these films have failed so hard at creating fear when the premise is so strong.
Still, the ending seems promising. Surely now that Samara’s origin story has been fully explained we can get something a little bit different. Overall, Rings isn’t terrible but it isn’t great either. It’s just alright which in my opinion is a huge improvement over the first two movies but it still leaves a bunch of unresolved plot points.