Friday, June 9, 2017

Film Review: Rings (2017)

Rings (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...this sequel plays out more like a teen horror movie from the early 2000s."

A young woman races to find the truth behind a supernatural curse after she watches a cursed tape that may take her life in seven days...

At times, Rings feels more like a remake instead of a sequel. Most of the film focuses on re-introducing us to Samara and the cursed tape while the final act adds a little to the lore. The film follows Julia (Matilda Lutz), a young woman who sees her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) off to college while she stays in their hometown 'for her mom'—I don't believe that's ever explained in detail. After Holt abruptly vanishes, Julia visits her boyfriend's college where she discovers Holt has joined his peculiar and 'bad-ass' professor in a group to study Samara and her tape. Eventually, Julia watches the tape, then the couple race to break the curse before it's too late. The film often introduces these new and original ideas, but it always tosses them out before they get a chance to develop. Aside from some new background for Samara, Rings offers very little to the series in terms of plot. It leads to an interesting ending. In this case, 'interesting' doesn't necessarily mean 'good.'

Rings is a disappointing film, especially when it's compared to The Ring or Ringu. And, even on its own, Rings is a mediocre horror movie. Instead of choking its audience with a bleak and ominous atmosphere, like the original and the remake, this sequel plays out more like a teen horror movie from the early 2000s. I got this same vibe from Ouija—and I think that says a lot. This film has no atmosphere or suspense. It is completely reliant on jump-scares and, without any suspense, none of them work. I enjoyed some of the surreal visuals, but I felt like they were underutilized—much like every other original element in the film. I think the best thing I can say about this film is: I didn't completely hate it. In other words, it's watchable. Then again, I'm a big fan of The Ring/Ringu, so I might be holding back on it.

The acting wasn't great, either. Matilda Lutz is serviceable, but she lacks sincere emotion. I just didn't believe her whenever the scenes became demanding. Alex Roe and Johnny Galecki performed a little better. It doesn't help that they mostly fill the shoes of some very annoying characters. The film's cinematography is okay. It doesn't match The Ring, but it's not horrible. The music borrows a bit from the remake, but it doesn't really stand out. The film was directed by F. Javier Gutierrez and written by David Loucka, Jacob Aaron Estes, and Akiva Goldsman. The direction is competent, but it fails to conjure any significant horror. It never feels terrifying. Some of the writers have written some great films—this isn't one of them. The writing lacks character, originality, and risks. It's barebones, which is especially surprising considering there are three credited writers.

Overall, Rings is a mediocre film. It's not the worst film I've ever seen, it's watchable and it's occasionally interesting, but it's not exactly frightening. The writing feels like it's all over the place, portraying itself as a sequel while feeling like an uninspired remake. The direction and the writing don't fare better, either. I wouldn't recommend directly paying to watch it. Wait until it's on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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