Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Cast: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki
Release Date: May 2, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 3/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
When a radical college professor (Johnny Galecki, “The Big Bang Theory”) finds the mysterious video rumored to kill viewers seven days after watching, he enlists his students in a dangerous experiment to uncover the secrets behind the Samara legend. When the deadly video goes viral, they must figure out a way to break the curse and defeat Samara before her evil is unleashed upon the world. But, how do you stop her when she’s everywhere?
The latest entry in the popular franchise based upon the Japanese film ‘Ringu’; ‘Rings’ returns viewers to Samara’s deadly world within this modern technical age. After lovebirds Julia (Lutz) and Holt (Roe) are forced to split ways due to a noteworthy college opportunity for Holt, Julia begins to panic when he mysteriously disappears and stops answering her calls, leading her to fear the worst and head to the college campus in search of him. Upon arriving she soon discovers that a radical college professor (Galecki) has discovered Samara’s deadly recording and established a massive network of viewers in an attempt to understand and exploit the cursed video, with her boyfriend apparently already having viewed it and running short on time. With no options left, she views the tape herself in order to save Holt which unleashes a new countdown, along with an odd connection between her and Samara. Before long the video spreads beyond control and with the threat greatly amplified, the young couple must race against time as they attempt to uncover the few remaining secrets of Samara’s past and the unexplainable connection she shares with Julia before time runs out and Samara is allowed to reign free.
Directed by newcomer to the franchise F. Javier Gutiérrez (Before The Fall) from a screenplay by David Loucka (Dream House), Jacob Estes (The Details) and Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend), Gutiérrez does a decent enough job at the helm of ‘Rings’ with many aspects such as coloring and a smooth overall appearance, although fails to ever successfully capture the terror and tension of its predecessors. The film benefits somewhat from a cast comprised of fairly capable and even some quite talented individuals and includes Matilda Lutz (TV’s Crossing Lines), Alex Roe (The 5th Wave), Johnny Galecki (TV’s The Big Bang Theory), Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World), Aimee Teegarden (TV’s Notorious) and more, the majority delivering fairly competent performances in each of their respective roles, even if a few seem to be largely disinterested in their performances (although who could truly blame them).
‘Rings’ is a huge disappointment and a pretty bad film in many ways, attempting to integrate the terror and threat of the deadly videotape into the modern age for ample terror and tension, yet unfortunately it never manages to successfully do so, failing to conjure even a single jump scare, let alone any truly terrifying moments throughout its course, as well as lacking any logic or sensible story to help propel things along which results in even more of an overall mess. The film undeniably falls flat as a sequel and a horror film in nearly every aspect, although many elements of its production value are far from terrible, with the scenery and many moments looking quite professional and utilizing a dreary tone which certainly doesn’t do the film any harm. The fairly competent guidance of director F. Javier Gutiérrez combined with a quite capable cast that delivers decent enough performances for the most part helps somewhat to make the film tolerable at times, but the painfully failed elements so important to the franchise and what makes it so eerie just can’t be ignored and they consistently overpower the few positive elements within. While many fans of the franchise who didn’t catch ‘Rings’ during its brief theatrical run will probably want to give it a watch regardless and decide for themselves, I would highly recommend trying to rent a copy for your first viewing just to be safe as opposed to dropping the funds on a blind purchase of the Blu-ray release.
Overall, ‘Rings’ is a tremendously disappointing entry in ‘The Ring’ franchise that attempts to reinvigorate the series, taking advantage of modern technology to try and allow a much wider (and potentially more terrifying) scope for Samara to wreak terror. Unfortunately every attempt to recreate the best elements of the series fall flat and a lack of any worthwhile story and numerous failed attempts to scare the viewer ends up hurting the film beyond reprieve. Even some decent enough production values and a capable cast go largely unnoticed amidst the numerous issues plaguing the latest chapter. Fans of the franchise who are intent to see ‘Rings’ will want to at least strongly consider renting the movie or waiting for it to appear on your favorite streaming provider before blindly dropping the money on a purchase just to be safe.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Rings’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful as a whole and provides a sharp, detailed and clean presentation from start to finish, with no faults to be found along the way. It holds up impressively even during the numerous darkly lit sequences and never allows anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible at any point. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation from Paramount that holds up admirably in every way.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack delivers a crisp, clean and fairly aggressive audio presentation throughout. It regularly takes advantage of all seven available channels in order to send masses of screaming people, rain pouring, crowd chatter and plenty more making its way throughout the various speakers, and never causing any dialogue that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a top notch 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that offers a nearly flawless audio presentation with plenty of surround activity.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Rings’ includes a few decent extras for the fans. Included on the release are a collection of ‘Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 19 minutes in length altogether), in addition to a few behind the scenes Featurettes that include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus some behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Terror Comes Full Circle’ (running approximately 13 minutes), ‘Resurrecting the Dead: Bringing Samara Back’ (approximately 9 minutes), and ‘Scary Scenes’ (7 minutes).