Rings (Blu-ray)

April 26, 2017 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Nearly twenty years ago a Japanese film, Ringu, was released. A few years later it was released in the United States as The Ring and it starred Naomi Watts and was directed by Gore Verbinski (best-known for the Pirates of the Caribbean films). This film scared the hell out of me and contained one of the scariest cut scenes that I’d ever seen. It literally cost me a few nights’ sleep. A few years later that film had a sequel and I honestly can’t remember if I saw it. If I did, I can’t remember anything out it. Flash forward a decade or so and we’ve now got Rings. Is it a reboot? Is it a sequel? It is a spinoff? I honestly don’t know and evidently neither did Paramount since this film has sat on their shelf for a couple years now. It finally got released in 2017 with the hope that it might act as a soft reboot to the series. It was actually a total waste of time and I’ll spend the next two paragraphs telling you why.

Julia (Matilda Lutz) and Holt (Alex Roe) are splitting up. He’s off to college and she’s forced to stay home and care for her sick mother*. A few weeks pass and the daily calls between Julia and Holt stop. Julia gets worried and heads to “State U” where she attempts to find Holt – with minimal success. She does meet one of his professors, Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), and manages to meet up with a few of his friends. She quickly learns that Holt, his professor and several others have seen a video and upon seeing it find out they’ve got one week to live (sound familiar?). Holt’s time is running out, so Julia watches it to buy some time. However, Julia’s video is a bit longer (yep, a “Director’s Cut” of the video) and she surmises the only way to deal with some of the imagery in her version is to go and seek them out. Holt and Julia end up in some rural Washington town where they hope to get to the bottom of things and, of course, live happily ever after.

Yeah, right.

There’s a formula with this film that worked…in Ringu and The Ring. It doesn’t work here namely because we’ve been there and done that. The same theme was used in another film that also scared the hell out of me – It Follows. Except in that film the “virus” was spread through sex and instead of an instant death a week later, you had someone making a bee line towards you to kill you. Same general concept, though. The film tries, albeit in vein, to introduce a few new elements in to this already tired plot but they don’t really work. Much like the new Blair Witch film, we lose that element of fear simply because they show too much of the evil element. The characters are paper thin, clichés abound and when all is said and done, we really don’t care if these people live or die. And here’s a thought, if all it takes is making a copy of the video to save your own life, put it on YouTube and be done with it? Just a thought.

*I found it oddly amusing that Julia’s character had to forego college, yet Julia leaves and the mother is never mentioned again. I guess she died? To the film’s credit, there is a deleted scenes with her in it.

Video: How’s it look?

Shown in the same stylized color scheme as the 2002 version of The Ring, we get a nice-looking 1.78:1 AVC HD image. I can fault the movie for many things, but it does look pretty darn good. When you’ve got a fly emerging from a joint, Samara coming out of a television (again) and the world’s scariest-looking town, it’s a good thing that the picture is so crystal clear. There are a few early scenes that look warm and inviting. The remainder of the movie is filled with rain, grit, dirt and every other dark influence you can think of. Black levels are strong, detail sharp and colors (for lack of a better word) an exaggeration of what they should be. I felt that The Ring looked better than this from a purely film perspective, but Rings looks the part.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The included DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 track makes full use of the sound and everything associated with it. The filmmakers like the use of the clichéd jump scare (you know, the point in a horror movie where there’s a really loud noise and then it turns out to be a cat), so much that after the third or fourth time I was immune. Vocals sound rich and crisp. Surrounds are used pretty effectively as the sound off thunder really resonates from the rear.  The sound of rain permeates the majority of the soundtrack, but never seems to interfere (if that makes sense). It’s a nice, effective mix, but it’s a shame it wasn’t put to better use.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Terror Comes Full Circle – Get it? Full circle? Rings. Unfortunately the film itself isn’t nearly as clever and this 12 minute EPK goes through the paces with some behind the scenes footage, some footage from the film’s predecessors (which made me want to watch The Ring and actually be scared) and some chats with the cast and crew.
  • Resurrecting the Dead: Bringing Samara Back – We learn that Rick Baker, who did the makeup for the first two films (The Ring and The Ring 2) is out and the torch as been passed to a new special effects artist. He immediately admits that “Samara is pretty much the same as she was before.” No points for originality there. Also discussed is the character herself and the role she plays in the film. And to further take any fright out of seeing Samara on screen, the actress is seen without her “scary” makeup.
  • Scary Scenes – In what might be the most uninspired supplemental feature name is this – “Scary scenes.” We get the crew who tells us of what they do when they watch scary movies and each one points out a particular part in this film that they deem “scary.” Evidently objectivity is out of the question here, eh?
  • Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes – Fourteen deleted/extended/alternate scenes are shown here and, yes, that’s no typo below – Rick Baker does have something to do with this film – unfortunately not in his area of expertise.
    • Rick Baker Cameo
    • Holt and Julia Say Goodbye
    • Talk with Mom
    • Hardware Store
    • Julia’s Webcam
    • Goodbye Mom
    • Julia Follows Gabriel
    • Holt’s Vision
    • Morphed Hands Nightmare
    • Julia’s Father
    • Motel Vision
    • Cicada Vision
    • Holt in the Hallway
    • Alternate Ending

The Bottom Line

My wife looked at me about halfway through and said “How much longer until this is over?” I wasn’t sure, but I was thinking the same thing. There’s nothing good about this film except for maybe Vincent D’Onofrio’s character (who I intentionally left out). If you want to be scared, watch Ringu or The Ring or even It Follows. Skip this at all costs because it’s like trying to understand how Donald Trump ended up President – you’ll just get mad and wonder how the hell you ended up in this scenario.

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