I remember the first time I watched THE RING. It was one of those films that had a profound effect on me due to how much it frightened me. To this day, 15 years after that film came out, I still get chills thinking about a particular scene and how much it frightened me. Since then, we have received a sequel, THE RING 2, and now we seem to be closing in on a trilogy with the latest installment in the franchise, RINGS. Directed by F. Javier Gutierrez, the film stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Bonnie Morgan, Johnny Galecki and Vincent D'Onofrio.
RINGS centers around the same story as it's predecessors. There's a mysterious VHS and if you watch the contents of it you will die in 7 days. However, this time around, there' something within the video that has been missed until now. . . another video. Okay, I could see how that would be interesting. The film even starts off with an intense plane situation that had me gripping my arm rests in terror (I have a huge fear of flying). But that intensity ends up falling away as the movie continues on. We've already beat a dead horse multiple times with this franchise, so adding in the plane sequence as well as a new storyline isn't the worst idea. I could see what the writers and the director were trying to do, as it was clear they were hoping to reinvigorate the story by adding in an element that neither the original Japanese version, RINGU, or the American adaptations have. However, the end result left me feeling disappointment and quite bored.
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way. Where this film falls short is in the acting of the two leads, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Alex Roe. I'm not sure if it's due to the writing or what, but the chemistry between the characters were just not there. Also, at no time did I feel like they were truly in danger. It was almost as if these actors weren't really sure what to do with the roles they were given and it's a shame, because had the roles been casted better, I think the performances would have been able to enhance the overall experience of the film. With that said, there was a shining star, and really no one should be surprised by this, but Vincent D'Onofrio was incredible. Granted, he's pretty incredible in anything he's in, but I loved his portrayal of the blind priest in the film, especially since it left me feeling quite disturbed. Also, I do kind of like this resurgence in Johnny Galecki's career, especially within the horror genre. His character in the film is a Professor of Biology and I couldn't help but love to hate him. His intentions aren't necessarily pure, but you learn to feel for his character as he begins to come to terms with the consequences of his actions.
What made THE RING so impactful to audiences, at least in my opinion, were due to the scares and visuals. What was lacking immensely in RINGS was definitely the scares, minus the few cheap jumpscares to get your blood pumping. Seeing the disfigured faces of the victims of Samara's wrath was one of the most startling and horrifying aspects of the original film, but this time around, they didn't pack the same punch. That could be in part because legendary makeup artist, Rick Baker, who had done work on the previous two films, was not involved in this film due to retiring. I'm not sure if the victim's faces were created with the use of CGI or if they were done with practical effects, but either way, there didn't seem to be that realistic element that made the reveals so shocking the first go around. One thing that I did really, really like though was Bonnie Morgan's performance as Samara. Not only was she the creator of the terrifying "spidercrawl" (don't judge me, that shit scares me), her movements and contortions were all done herself without the use of CGI. She embodied the iconic role of Samara and pull it off without a hitch, and quite honestly, she may have been the scariest part of the film, when we actually got to see her on screen (which was few and far between).
Lastly, one of the positive points about the film was the visuals. I was glad to see that director F. Javier Gutierrez followed in the footsteps of director Gore Verbinski (THE RING) and Hideo Nakata (RINGU, THE RING 2), in making the film visually stunning. One of my favorite scenes is when Johnny Galecki's character is looking out the window and the rain begins to fall from the ground up. It was beautiful, creepy and haunting and I wish that those themes had carried throughout the rest of the film.
Overall, RINGS fell very short in terms of being scary while the performances from the majority of the cast left a lot to be desired. Though there were a few shining moments, whether through the visual elements or D'Onofrio's acting, the film at large fell flat. The ending leaves audiences with a cliffhanger; however, I really don't think we need another RING movie. I think it's time we finally closed the last chapter of the RING franchise and say goodbye to Samara once and for all.
RINGS is now out in theaters nationwide