Director: Javier Gutiérrez
Cast: Matilda, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki
You’d imagine that for the universe of The Ring to be brought alive again after almost a decade, some writer somewhere must have had a Eureka moment — an ingenious idea that necessitated delving into the universe again, promising something that the original writers had likely overseen. I kept looking for that idea throughout Rings to no avail. The core idea is the same: the now-all-too-familiar idea of a creepy video that when watched results in the spirit of Samara Morgan (a figure that’s more hair than face) killing the viewer in seven days. This time, in keeping with the social media ways of the world, you can escape the “death sentence”, as a character puts it, if you make another person watch a copy of your video. It’s like multi-level marketing; only, here, your life is at stake.
Professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki aka Leonard Hofstadter from The Big Bang Theory) calls this, “setting up a tail”. This idea of passing the ghost’s wrath to another person by making them watch the video is almost straight out of The Scary Movie franchise. Any little rumination over how the ghost keeps track of this simply makes it all seem even more ludicrous. I imagined Samara’s spirit having a list of people she needs to kill. “Done. Done. Oh wait, I haven’t killed this dude yet. No no, he showed the video to somebody else. What’s his name?” I just couldn’t get over the silliness of this premise. There is little that’s enjoyable about Rings.
There aren’t moments of dread or tension unless you’re talking about that which you feel when you realise the increasing dullness of each scene, or when you realise it isn’t even interval yet. Hell, there isn’t even one decent jump scare. All of doesn’t mean the lead actors, Matilda (who plays Julia), and Alex Roe (who plays Holt) are bad. They’re quite all right, but unfortunately, have almost no material to work with. At the very end of this seemingly interminable film, there’s finally a discomfiting scene that has a character pulling out a never-ending strand of hair from her mouth.
Her skin’s also peeling off at the same time. I wanted to shake director Gutiérrez and tell him that this is what people sign up to see when they come to these films — not uninspired romance and tepid backstories of spirits. Unfortunately though, that’s what Rings is about for the most part. That’s why, every time a character’s phone rang after they watched the cursed video, I desperately checked my phone to see if there was an emergency and I had to leave the theater mid-way. No such luck though!