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.
When the original movie The Ring came out, I was a tiny little thing at the age of 6. That being said, it’s no wonder that the first time I saw Samara crawl out of a TV left an impression. One could go on about how my parents really should have kept me from seeing that movie at such a young age, but truth be told they couldn’t have kept me from it if they’d tried. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved horror movies. The thrills that come from watching a heroic protagonist fight against a terrifying monster or force have never gotten old for me. Suffice it to say that when I was given the opportunity to see Rings earlier this week, I absolutely jumped at the chance. I, like many fans of the original movie, had high hopes for Rings and what it would mean for horror movies in general. After all, the original movie had changed so much about how we saw horror as well as technology and morality. In some cases, Rings delivered all that I had wanted but, unfortunately, in most it did not.
One big question I had going in to the movie theater was how modern technology would be incorporated into this film and in that aspect, I feel that the movie delivered. As our society has gotten more and more dependent on cooler and faster tech, we’ve become absolutely surrounded by screens of all shapes and sizes. If Samara and a video that could kill were real, (and I sincerely hope nothing like that ever does exist) we would have very little chance of getting away from her at this point. Technically speaking, the film’s effects very much met my personal standards. It was just downright cool to see how modern day Samara looked! In terms of the plot, I would say that technology is a driving force throughout the whole film. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that the speed and scale at which the video is shared is affected drastically by computers and the internet. In total, the move definitely satisfied in this aspect.
That being said, much of the rest of the film fell absolutely flat. Outside from the interesting way the film handles new tech, this movie is your standard horror flick. I had been hoping for something more adventurous from Rings but unfortunately, it felt like I was re-watching many of the horror movies I’ve ever seen. Unlike the original, Rings doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The movie offers a “new” story, but just when you think it might actually be new the same rhetoric we get from other horror movies rears its ugly head and smashes that illusion.
In terms of the writing, I felt like the film was a bit confusing in certain spots. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the timeline of certain events that occur in the film (again, trying to give no spoilers!). This defect made the story fall rather flat for me and I believe it would have this effect on many of the original fans of the story. Certain things made the whole timeline for the film seem practically impossible, to be frank. On top of this, there were a couple throw away lines that felt as if they needed more exposition. Certain things were just not believable at all while other things were so confusing that I feel the audience was left wondering what the heck was going on.
Now, time to discuss the acting. Truly, I feel like all the actors did an admirable job. I would credit many of the shortcomings of this film to the writing but, that being said, I feel that the actors did the absolute best they could with what they had. Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, who plays the main character Julia, truly does carry the movie most of the time. I’m excited to see how the Italian actress does in future films; in fact, I almost felt as if this movie was not the best way for her to make her American film debut, if I’m being as frank as possible. Alex Roe, known for his role as Evan Walker in The 5th Wave and who plays Julia’s boyfriend Holt in this movie, also performed admirably. Matilda was undoubtedly the focus of the film and, therefore, she was the focus of many of the scenes the two had together. That being said, I feel like Alex held his own well in his scenes with her. Now, of course, you can’t mention the actors of this movie without giving MAJOR props to Bonnie Morgan and her creepy Samara spider walk! I mean, seriously, how does she even bend like that?!
The character that intrigued me the most and who I wish we would have gotten more of was definitely Johnny Galecki’s Gabriel. He plays an eccentric and charismatic professor who, to speak plainly, causes many of the conflicts in the film. This character especially was negatively affected by the writing in this film; one moment Gabriel has one stance on something and the next he completely flips seemingly without explanation. That being said, Johnny Galecki did a very good job with the role. I feel as if he portrayed Gabriel with just the right amount of charisma and egocentricity to make his actions believable throughout most of the movie.
Earlier I mentioned that Matilda carries the movie most of the time, and I completely stand by this comment. That being said, the moment that Vincent D'Onofrio’s Burke is introduced, the dynamic of movie changes. Vincent absolutely steals the show in every scene he’s in. His character is blind, which is interesting to me since he played the main antagonist in season one of Netflix’s Daredevil. The way he absolutely rocked this role speaks volumes of his ability. His character was by far the most believable not necessarily because of the nature of the role but by sheer force of talent.
Despite the good (and in some cases great) actors, the movie just had too much to overcome so the audience is left with a general feeling of disappointment. Is this the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen? No, not by any remote stretch of the imagination. That being said, the film is not original at all and the plot falls flat 90% of the time, in my opinion. If you’re looking for a movie to watch for the jump scares and the cool CGI, then this might be for you. If you were hoping for anything deeper or beyond that, then I fear this film will fall just as flat for you as it did for me.