Rings: Void of Fright and Tension
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
The 1998 Japanese horror classic Ringu owed its success to innovative scares, terrifying writing and haunting visual story-telling. As is the case with most successful horror films, Hollywood stepped in and decided to recreate RIngu. In 2002, The Ring was released, and it went on to be highly successful. However, its sequel, The Ring Two, and the most recent addition to the franchise, Rings, are both proof that the filmmakers overextended themselves when trying to maximize the trilogy’s success. Now, what is left is a redundant plot that over time has grown devoid of fright and tension.
The first ten minutes of Rings consists of a series of deviations that try and establish the film’s central plot twist. The audience is subjected to an amateur introduction that resembles a pick-up line gone wrong and montages of innocent people meeting with the infamous Samara Morgan’s seven day VHS tape curse.
After the longest ten minutes of your life, one of the film’s central characters, Professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), purchases an old VHS player with the cursed tape in it. From this point on, the parallel storyline of Holt (Alex Roe) and his soon-to-be long distance girlfriend Julia (Matilda Lutz) plays out. Meanwhile, Professor Gabriel devises an experiment in which a person can survive even after watching the tape as long as they get someone else to watch it before their seven-day deadline expires.
Shortly after arriving on campus, Holt gets sucked into Professor Gabriel’s eerie experiment, sending a concerned Julia on a rescue mission.
While you might think that the characters in the film are being subjected to a grisly fate, halfway into the predictable plot, you will realize that the only one being subjected to this fate is you. Director F. Javier Gutiérrez’s screenplay is entirely void of fright and tension. Although more details on Samara Morgan’s unfortunate fate are uncovered, Rings as a horror film will disappoint viewers who drive to theaters expecting exciting thrills.
At first, the layer of mystery surrounding the film’s lead characters is intriguing. But pretty soon, their journey gets boring and predictable. To make matters worse, Sharone Meir’s cinematography fails to create any frame suspense whatsoever. Blaring lights that are used to resemble torch lights create an unpleasant experience rather than inducing realism. The icing on the cake is the movie’s nonexistent soundtrack.
In Ringu (1998), every single scare could be felt; each move was filled with suspense and sharp writing induced sizable amounts of fear. Nearly two decades later, it is sad to see that, barring a few films, we’re marching backward as far as innovative writing and technique are concerned.
Overall, Rings could have been significantly better if it approached a largely imitated storyline differently, refrained from lazily succumbing to clichés, and incorporated innovative visuals and sound engineering that would create a genuine feeling of suspense.