Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review: Rings

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Hipsters or no hipsters, the idea that the evil spirit at the center of "Rings" could spread virally through video tapes in 2017 is worth a good laugh. Then again, this attempt to revive a horror franchise that went stale more than a decade ago doesn't put much effort into laying out its narrative in a thoughtful fashion.

There are twists galore in this third "Ring" entry, during which the creepy Samara once again climbs out of that well and into your living room, albeit this time through TVs, laptops and even iPhones. But you can see where the picture is going at virtually every step as it piles cliche upon cliche.

As the picture opens, Julia (Matilda Lutz) is parting from her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) as they head off to separate colleges. Just shortly after school has begun, Julia senses something strange is afoot and heads to Holt's campus to investigate. Once there, she stumbles upon an absurd college science project led by professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), in which a group of students have been exposed to the Samara tape - I'll assume readers know the rules of said tape, so I won't have to explain them - and now have seven days to either pass on her curse or bite the big one.

For starters, that Gabriel and these students could be carrying on this project, which results in at least one student's death, semi-openly is ludicrous. Also, I'll mention it again, the project is mostly carried out via a video tape (in 2017!), although some students have uploaded it to their computers, so you just know there will be that moment when it goes viral for all web users to witness.

"Rings" steals the storyline from one of the earlier films in the franchise as Julia and Holt attempt to locate Samara's corpse and destroy it, so that she can be set free. During their journey, they run across a creepy priest (Vincent D'Onofrio, who else?) who may or may not have something to do with Samara's untimely demise. As always, the picture's best moment is a recycled one as we witness the eerie black and white video from the previous films shown again and again, albeit with some freshly updated images.

I actually enjoyed Gore Verbinski's 2002 version of "The Ring" - in fact, I'm among the few who prefer it to the Japanese original - but its sequel was a bore and, as a result, the franchise came to a screeching halt. That is, until now.

"Rings" is less likely to revive the series, rather than provide a reminder as to why it fizzled in the first place. The picture's concept is creepy - although a little difficult to swallow, even in the realm of horror movies - but it's of the type that works effectively only once. As a result, "Rings" doesn't resonate - I doubt you'll recall much of it seven days after you've seen it.

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