Dan M., here….
I went back and streamed The Ring to make sure I remembered what the movie was about. Before I started it, I remember that this was a top 10 hand-holding movie back in high school when it came out. I obviously knew that some ghost girl who died in a well would come out a TV and kill anyone who watched a VHS tape. After catching up 15 years later, I can confirm that I have a photographic memory and the entire movie is about watching a tape that sends a creepy girl through the TV to kill you. That girl is named Samara and she is still creepy to look at. Horror movies are such a weird creature because they often contain some really great conflicts. The way to save yourself from being murdered through your TV is to make a copy of the tape and send it on to someone else. The internal conflict of that was actually explored pretty well in the first Ring movie. I was hoping this would be explored more in RINGS so I headed off to the theater.
When I told someone I was leaving work to go catch RINGS they said, “Have you seen the first two?” FIRST TWO? I saw the first one but don’t remember a sequel. I felt so unprepared! Luckily, God created Wikipedia, which is never wrong so I caught up on the plot of The Ring Two. Apparently after sending off the copy of the tape at the end of the first film, Naomi Watts sort of created a society of people who keep the girl in the well by constantly copying the tape and passing the curse forward. This is a great idea for a sequel! Unfortunately the rest of the movie sounds like it turns into a child being possessed by Samara until they do some sort of dream sequence in the TV to save themselves. Yawn!
Anyway, now that I’ve given the definitive recap of the first two Ring movies lets talk about RINGS. I have no idea why this was made. The target audience is middle-school and high school age kids who weren’t even alive when The Ring came out in 2002. I guess Hollywood knows that putting jump scares in trailers is like a silent dog whistle for a 15 million dollar opening weekend. Nevertheless I can’t entirely hate on this movie. It was mindless fun and to see the evolution of a VHS tape being passed around to social media viral videos in 2017 was on the borderline of becoming interesting.
Usually horror movies don’t make you think, “Wow! We’ve come a long way with technology in 15 years. Especially as it relates to passing videos of Samara who will come out of a well to kill you” but this one did. Unfortunately, they only scratched the surface of applying that concept. Early in the film a bunch of college kids are uploading the tape to the web and I thought for one second that they were going to be using the tape as some sort of internet warfare. I was thoroughly bummed out when they sort of moved on from the premise which would’ve been much more interesting than the plot they went with.
Not only does the technology evolution influence the plot but it also allows the filmmakers to do some pretty awesome ‘scare’ setups. The special effects are above average for what I can assume was a lower budget horror film with no stars but they really worked. The prologue for the movie is an airplane scene that has been released as a clip by the studio and gives you a taste of 2017 Samara attacks. Samara is still creepy but bordering on ridiculous with her ‘powers’ or whatever she has learned in that well over the past 15 years. Last time we met her she could come out of your TV and kill you or possess your kid (thanks Wikipedia) but she brings some new tricks to this one that make her less creepy and more typical horror villain.
Ultimately, if you like scary movies this one is average and has some great jump scares. The story makes no sense and wastes a bunch of opportunities but it short and has effective scares. Admittedly, this type of movie is not my cup of tea but I enjoyed it for what it was. I think it will be successful enough and probably spawn a sequel by 2019. I assume most theaters showing this movie will be packed with young teens on dates, holding hands, talking, and looking at their phones and the few people that thought it would be a respectable crowd in RINGS on a Friday night will be praying 30 minutes in for a video of Samara to send some of these kids.