Julia becomes worried about her boyfriend, Holt, when he explores the dark urban legend of a mysterious video said to kill the watcher seven days after viewing. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before. Samara said it would never stop. And now it’s gotten worse.
Billy: The weird thing about Rings is that I like its ideas. It just… doesn’t really focus on any one of them for long enough, or with enough consistently, for me to take it seriously as a movie. Honestly, one of my favourite parts of the film was the opening, with the screens on the plane showing the Ring video in an inescapable confined space. Give me that movie as a 15 minute short and I’d be happy. Hell, take all the great “little” ideas this movie offers and give me an Animatrix style anthology of Samara-based horror. The tape spreads in a way that it makes sense how it could spider out into multiple simultaneous incarnations. Rings gives us a glimpse of that, but it’s definitely more interested in going back to the roots of The Ring with an origin story. Unfortunately, while I think the last few minutes of this movie are actually very compelling in that way, it wasn’t as fun a ride to get there as I wanted it to be.
Amelia: Fuck this movie. Twelve years in the making and we get a movie that catches us up on the mystery of the cursed videotape within the first five minutes but then have to watch nearly two hours of new characters trying to figure it out. Thrilling. There’s nothing quite like watching a movie with no mystery. No intrigue. There’s nothing new to add to Samara’s tale, okay? There isn’t. We learned everything we needed in the first movie. I know it, you know it, and worst of all, this fucking movie knows it!
Sure, they approach it via the good old fashioned horror trope of ‘rebirth’, but:
- This was a soft reboot that doesn’t follow the established rules of Samara and therefore confuses to no end why she wants “rebirth”
- They paced Rings so that we only “discover” Samara is trying to get reborn at the very end of the movie for a shocking reveal that’s not shocking at all and effectively kills the franchise unless they do a hard reboot
- I say we “discover” it, but we didn’t discover shit. They ruined the rebirth angle in the goddamn trailers for this movie!
Billy: One thing that I really liked, at least closer to the beginning of the film, was how much it played with the original film being a period piece. I mentioned that in our take on the original American film, and I really, really like how it’s followed up on here in that it highlights how much the original story is stuck in the past. Rings unearths Samara as a historical entity. Big Bang Boy has to buy a VCR at a flea market, and he turns watching the tape into a hipster event. The copying of the tape from analogue to digital formats is really clever, and I love how they can get away with saying that copying the file counts as making a copy of the tape.
Amelia: These actors, man. Why do we go to the literal bottom of the barrel for horror actors? The two leads in this are wooden and were probably cast because main lady looks like a discount Emilia Clarke and main dude looks like Nicholas Hoult if Nicholas Hoult’s face was slightly smushed under something heavy when he was a baby.
Billy: A more Aryan Nicholas Hoult?
Amelia: I think you mean inbred.
And speaking of inbred, what the fuck is up with Big Bang Boy’s hands? It’s like, the size of a hobbit’s but the thickness of a dwarf’s. His gross hands are the scariest thing in this movie. I can confidently say that after at least a dozen close-ups of him using a mouse.
Billy: It’s weird that he’s even in this movie. He being Johnny Galecki. What’s the difference between this movie and a Big Bang Theory episode paycheck? I feel like this has to have been less, right? I feel like the director only noticed his hands during filming and was just so fascinated by them he couldn’t look away. This was not a man you wanted to cast as a hand model. Give me David Duchovny or give me death!
Amelia: This is a really ugly movie even if you excluded Big Bang Boy’s hands. Effects are a lower quality than they were in the first American Ring movie from 2002. I bought that scene where a horse doesn’t clear a jump and bites it in the first Ring, but Rings couldn’t even make me believe that a bird hit a car windshield. Then there are way too many close-ups on the actors, be it their hands as they use a computer mouse or their faces as they watch the cursed video.
And don’t even get me started on the freakin’ colour grading! Why is this movie so desaturated and green? The first Ring was a very coolly lit movie. No real darkness, just lots of blues. It worked there because Rachel was outside a lot exploring rainy places or staring at old tube TVs which glow blue. Rings has an upgrade in technology, no more blue screens. It also spends a huge amount of its time indoors where shadows and literal darkness would have worked more in its favour than slapping on a filter that saps it of its colours just because they were half-heartedly trying to make it look like the last two Ring movies!
Billy: Three bazingas out of ten
So, here’s an admission. In the first act of this movie, I actually really like that they found a way to organize themselves and find the loophole of the tape. I mean, honestly, as long as everything’s on the up and up, it was a plan that could have worked and you could have actually approached this movie from a new angle. Like the transition from Alien to Aliens, which actually would have been really smart considering the title-change similarities. I think the only problem with that is that they literally already did what that accomplishes better in It Follows and had a much stronger metaphor for STDs. Here in Rings there’s the lingering baggage of the whole franchise dragging it down, so what you had to rely on the technical side to the spooks. Again, that could work, but then why is this an origin story?
Amelia: Half a bazinga out of ten
I am insulted beyond belief that this movie exists. What was this supposed to accomplish? There’s no mystery, there’s no thrills, there’s no chills. The first American Ring movie is so, so satisfying to watch. There are stakes and actual clues that tie together to get both Rachel and you to the end. She’s also an investigative journalist and the movie was paced keeping that in mind. That was her job, she knew how to do it. Even rewatching it, knowing the end, it’s still exciting to go on that journey with her. Julia and her boyfriend Holt are just teenagers. They know how to do nothing and lo and behold, nothing gets done! It’s not cute to watch characters chase their own tails when you know that’s what they’re doing. The end of The Ring revealed Rachel had been chasing her tail, but it worked because it was unexpected and shocking. The end of Rings wasn’t unexpected and shocking because it was spoiled in the fucking trailers! Rings is like watching a stupid dog chase its tail, get dizzy, and then vomit in your favourite shoes. Who needs that kind of mess in their lives?