In an endless spree of cinematic reboots, no franchise is safe. The latest cult classic to receive a modern makeover is “The Ring,” a horror film directed by Gore Verbinski in 2002. The film tells the story of an evil videotape that kills when viewed. The only consolation is a phone call after the tape is over, warning the victim: “Seven Days.” After seven days are up, expect a visit from Samara, a ghostly spirit who thrives on death. The only escape from the tape’s wrath is to make a copy of it.
The same goes for the 2017 reboot, “Rings.” The movie is directed by F. Javier Gutierrez and stars Matilda Lutz as Julia and Alex Roe as Holt, two students just out of high school. When it comes time for Holt to leave town and go to college, Julia becomes worried as he starts to distance himself from her, ignoring texts and skype calls. One night, Julia receives a particularly distressing skype call from Holt and is met with a girl looking for him. She says some disturbing things and Julia hops in the car and drives over to make sure everything is alright.
After some digging, she discovers that Holt has been caught up in a scheme with his biology professor, Gabriel, played by Johnny Galecki. Gabriel is researching the tape to find out more about the human soul and tricks students into watching it, including Holt and Julia. Once the couple is reunited, they begin the search for the meaning of the tape and how to escape their dark fate.
“Rings” is very influenced by Verbinski’s film, and it shows. Characters resemble one another, the plot advances at the same pace and even some shots are hardly different from one another. In both movies there are scenes where the female protagonist explores Samara’s living quarters where she was held captive, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given the history of Samara and her family “The Ring” gives us. “Rings” lacks a lot of the charm that helped the original flourish.
The writing is dry, which gravely hurt the performances in the film. Some choice examples of the choppy writing include “I don’t think a vision means you know what the vision means,” and “Watch your step, I just painted the ceiling.” Were they warning against getting paint on your shoes? Odd lines such as these are sprinkled throughout the movie and distract you from the story pretty frequently.
The script also heavily relies on exposition to trudge through the complicated plot, which needed to be thinned out and centralized. There are too many ideas running amok throughout the film.
One theme that was great was the idea of the video getting uploaded to the internet and shared instantly amongst the populous, but it is only explored for a few minutes. This would have been a great movie to watch, but unfortunately the writers went in a more complicated direction that hurt the film.
“Rings” does have some strong points. There are some great scenes where Samara attacks her victims who watched the tape. Unsettling and certainly disturbing, Gutierrez utilizes modern technology to expand on the horror that branded “The Ring.” This is a campy little horror film to watch with your buddies on a rainy night, but not much else. Certainly not a staple in the horror genre like Verbinski’s film, but a decent horror flick nonetheless.