Rings (2017) – Movie Review

Man, millennials just can’t catch a break, can they? From demons and ghosts coming out of their wifi to prank phone calls, it’s getting pretty tough to be a technologically savvy twenty-something in a horror movie. In Rings, the struggle doesn’t get any easier.

Releasing February 3rd, 2017, fifteen years after the first American remake (not in movie time – in actual real-life years), Rings follows a couple, Julia and Holt, who stumble across the tape while Holt is attending college. Turns out that Holt’s biology professor, Gabriel, had gotten his hands on the tape under some rather shady circumstances, and now that the kill-streak has begun again, the couple tries to unlock the secret to the tape before their time is up.

Giving credit where credit is due: the plot in Rings is quite coherent and linear. Compared to the last installment’s indecision of what kind of a movie it wanted to be – supernatural horror? Murder mystery? Family drama? – Rings attempts to harken back to what the original did so well – set up a straight mystery, throw in some horror, and watch the characters react.

Not only that, but Rings does actually try to take the old premise – watch the tape and die – and bring it into the new age. Hello, digital streaming! This concept alone had a lot of potential to be cool – what could happen if the cursed tape were to leak online? How would you even deal with that?

But this leads us to the elephant in the room: the execution. With modern themes, seemingly, comes modern horror cliches and tropes, and for a series whose original success was built on slow, purposeful dread, Rings takes that concept and throws it right down the well.

Jump-scares? They’re everywhere. The quick-edits are enough to give you whiplash. The opening scene alone – something that, again, could have been awesome and terrifying based on the concept – was an absolute mess of editing and CGI.

There was more to be desired from the main cast as well – they were convincing enough in their roles, but didn’t have a whole lot of characterization that made me care about them any more than what was required. This may be in part due to the writing which, to be fair, didn’t give them a whole lot to work with. Still, it was fun to see Vincent D’Onofrio show up in the film’s latter half.

Final Thoughts:

In short, Rings is a movie that, while having some genuinely fresh and interesting ideas to bring to the table, falls short of being an effective horror film. This is, in part, due to its attempt to translate the film’s premise to what has now become the standard of the disposable horror film – thin characters, over abundance of jump-scares, and excessive quick-cuts. It doesn’t ever quite get the chance to get under your skin, and, like a twenty-second cat video, just isn’t that scary… unless you’re talking about Ninja Cat, ’cause seriously, that cat has some serious suspense going for it.

About Seth Hansen

Seth is a writer and musician living in Los Angeles. When not explaining to strangers why John Carpenter's The Thing is the greatest horror movie ever made (trust me, it is), he's usually playing violin or hanging out in record store clearance sections. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook!

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