Director: F. Javier Gutierrez
Writers: David Loucka (story and screenplay), Jacob Estes (story and screenplay), and Akiva Goldmsna (screenplay)
Starring: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, and Bonnie Morgan
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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A young woman finds herself on the receiving end of a terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in 7 days.
As a huge horror movie fan, I was very excited to not only get to see an advanced screening of Rings, but also to get to interview the director, F. Javier Gutierrez. Throughout the movie, I kept coming up with questions to ask the him and I am honored to have been able to interview him.
So, where did you want this film to fit on The Ring’s timeline? Did you want it to be a sequel, prequel, or maybe your own adaptation of the original idea?
F. Javier: I would say it’s like a sequel because it’s like we talk about the original movie somehow indirectly. We say at some point they found the body and so we are not talking about Rachel and Aidan but we acknowledge that that happened, so I would say it’s like a… like an evolution of what happened in the first one. We are forgetting about the whole story about Aidan or Rachel and the position [of] the second one, we’re not talking about that [laughs] but yes we go back a little bit to the root of the original one. If you remember the first Ring and they’re— everything starts in the college actually, and Rachel kind of is there because like a young girl dies and it’s like, “What happened?”, and then she starts to investigate, right? So we are like following the thread of that path- of the college- thinking like, what happens if fifteen years later somehow, somebody again runs into one of the tapes and plays that there again in a college. Like it belongs to that kind of environment- the college, the people, the crowds sharing tapes and things but out now, in a contemporary world, what will happen? So it’s more like an evolution, I don’t know if I’d call it a sequel exactly but it’s like the next step following the original course of The Ring.
How did you get involved with the project?
F. Javier: Uh, I was on The Crow, so I was working on that one [and] that is actually a project that I love and that’s been like two years or something- like two years and a half- and it was for too long unfortunately and I helped, I fixed a lot of things, I helped a lot, I really got to put together like a team again and James O’Barr on board… and it was really, really exciting but unfortunately there were a lot of problems that were out of my reach- I couldn’t control everything- and I… I always try to be optimistic but I just can’t do everything [laughs]. But, I was not able to handle that, it was like, rough to understand that it doesn’t depend on me, I cannot do everything. So, um, when everything wasn’t going down on The Crow and all those moments, I got to know Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. They are the producers of the first Ring movie… they are pretty impressive, they have pretty impressive resumes. So they call me, they tell me the loved my movie Before the Fall. It is a small movie I did in Spain… and it was released here on IFC and they saw it and they said, “You have that darkness and you have that visual world that you can bring something to the table of The Ring like Gore could bring to the first one. So, when they made that call I was doing The Crow and I thought oh okay, The Crow [or] The Ring [laughs]. And so I start off on [Rings] and when Rings starts to move very fast, because they probably were like six years in development when I arrived, and when I was there the movie started to get on track and move very fast, I had to stop working on The Crow. I couldn’t be there, so I helped them with the transition to a new director… and I jumped into the boat of The Ring.
So, in the film, you state that you wanted to involve technology and morality but in the film it kind of—you went back to VHS. Why not just skip to having it on the computers already and streaming it?
F. Javier: I am nostalgic! I like VHS, it’s like, I mean, if [I] as a fan, I see that with like a pin drive I would be like “what the fuck?” So I wanted to create like a link at least, that something that we wanted to attack, I would love to have a transition from the real tape, because you know, that’s what people my age like to do. They like to look at old tapes and see them transition to DVD, to see all that I feel like I made justice to the real tape. So that’s why we set the opening scene like that to see the transition, it set up the roots again for the new crowd and those [fans] from the original movies can be like ‘”oh okay” and understand why the transition. It was also like a punch to start with energy like “guys, forget about the original Ring because this is quite different but we are going to try to show some throwbacks like the tape and other things like that.
Interviewer 4: When you saw the final product and you saw how everything came out what was your feeling? How did you—what was that experience?
F. Javier: When I saw the final movie?
Yeah, the whole film, when you saw it all.
F. Javier: I think that I was…happy I felt that it was a good balance of….I can go [from] white to dark, I know myself, so sometimes I have to contain myself. So I think the movie does a pretty good job at keeping the darkness of the original and some of the visuals, but I like to make the movie through my own world so I like to play with the colors, the texture treating the original of the Ring but adding some new colors and textures, so I think it was a good balance between something that I found myself that I would like to see. So yeah I think it was a good balance between things that I would like to find and things that a fresh new audience would demand. So maybe they don’t care for the original Ring 1 or Ring 2 but they can still walk into the movie like “oh okay that sounds like an interesting clue! So you watch it, you die, okay” It was like, you know a refresh, and at the same time for people who like myself are very attached to the original I wanted to find still some of the flavor of the original but then things that you couldn’t find before like Julia and little moments with Julia that you can only see through her and of her when she’s moving forward and moments of classic suspense and classic horror. It is not like this new trend that we have now with new horror, it is not that intense and specific in showing gore and things like that, that is something we said a lot “we wanna do like a classic horror movie. We may want to adapt it to a new audience, but we don’t want it to be too crazy. Let’s do something that plays more with the psychology of it.” I enjoy little situations like that where you have to make a decision, and some decisions get you in trouble. Like it happens to Julia and to the leaders of the previous movie sometimes they try to do the right thing, but that doesn’t mean that the right thing doesn’t have any consequences.
Okay, uh, 2016 was kind of a big like new horror movies type of year, what do you think that sets Rings apart from all the other ones that just came out?
F. Javier: Um I love the movies of these last two years, I think they’re very, very unique. A lot of them are all very personal I think, which I really appreciate because they come from the independent world, they’re something that can’t really be made in a franchise. Things like that; I really love and appreciate them. In a Hollywood franchise you have to do another kind of horror. In this particular case we did something recovering the sense of the original one, right? But I think it’s a good approach actually because you’re not going to go in that direction with a movie like The Ring, which is really rough. This is taking the direction of keeping the classic mood of the original one, I think. After I watched it at the end after everything, I came back and watched it and I thought look, it’s fun. I mean, it was not scary for me because I did edit it [laughs]. But I felt I was a fan. Somehow we managed a movie that has a lot of horror classics, which some people might think is a bit outdated but I think actually it’s something fresh because nowadays everyone is trying to do something new with horror movies.
There’s a few really interesting scenes in the film… which one would you say was the most difficult to film?
F. Javier: The one in the cemetery was pretty complicated. That one was probably the hardest.
Yeah, it looks difficult [laughs]
F. Javier: We don’t want any spoilers but you know, the space, everything was real. It was pretty practical. It was rough for the actress too because she was actually doing it herself. I asked her if she could please do it for me because I want to see it real, I want to see your face, and so it was pretty hard, that one. And then, technically, what was a really hard one was Samara crawling out from the TV because I really love the original one, I love when she walks out, and when I took this movie I thought “I have to do something, at least!” You know, I felt a lot of pressure to do something different. And it’s the sequence that everyone wanted to watch!
Alright, so, you’ve directed a film that was meant to frighten your audience and inspire suspense in them. What would you say frightens you, personally, and did you incorporate any of your own fears into this film?
F. Javier: My own fears are more—I mean, in this one there’s some sense of it. I mean, I would have to say that where I portrayed my own fears I would have to go back to my previous movie Before the Fall because it was based more around my childhood somehow. It’s like, uh, a girl walking out of a TV has nothing to do with my childhood. So, I think it has something. I’m a fighter too, I always fight, but even if you fight and fight against the dark sometimes you cannot win. This concept comes up a lot in the movie, fighting your own destiny, and it’s something I might have to see a psychologist for! In Before the Fall, it’s called 3 Days in Spanish because everyone is going to die in three days and you have to make decisions; right ones or wrong ones, but you knew you were going to die. In Rings, Julia is going to die in seven days. So I think that’s the personal link, to know that at the end of the day we are all going to die somehow; seven days, ten days, seven years, who knows? And the decisions you make through the journey I believe are somehow scary and somehow challenging.