Rings greatest issue is itself. There’s opportunity for substance in this girl-comes-out-of-a-TV paranormal thriller. Partially rejecting the VHS origins of The Ring, in 2017, Rings takes on social media. An opportunity then to put the effect of oversharing on blast, wherein the generational instinct is to immediately post a video online to friends, thus cursing everyone to a grisly end. Even if out of sync with the more personable horror of The Ring, Rings is the third one. Time to escape a bit.
The core rules still apply – seven days after watching said video, unless the video is shared with another, the viewer dies in splendidly theatrical ways. Add in 2017’s possibility of online trolls willing to laugh at the thought and Rings might never see an end. But no, the script by a trio of writers (David Loucka, Jacob Estes, Akiva Goldsman) succumbs to schlocky teen horror. Utterly listless and without enthusiasm for the material, Italian actress Matilda Lutz spends the movie poking around spooky locations with a flashlight. Slowly.
Lutz doesn’t carry star power, although she does have some fight in her. On-screen boyfriend Alex Roe doesn’t need to save Lutz from danger; she’s capable solo. Lutz is also capable of exposition, forcibly explaining events to no one in particular. It’s painfully obvious how little regard Rings has for its audience.
The blips of clever ideas Rings offers flash by
The blips of clever ideas Rings offers flash by
At a fraction over 90-minutes, Rings spends much of its time in a cinematic coma. It feels like two hours or more. Nothing happens in this movie, willing to bide its telling spilling an origin story for the TV creeper Samara. Somehow this takes the entire film to explain. The blips of clever ideas Rings offers – especially a hidden war room where tape watchers mind the hours they have left – flash by. Instead, the tropes of a small town and the citizens hiding a secret pile on, suffocating the attempt at reiussing the series. Or is this is a sequel? Prequel? The studio didn’t likely know at the time of greenlighting either.
Only Vincent D’Onofrio comes to Rings’ rescue, portraying a blind man with proper gravitas for the material. He’s spooky, overcoming the blasé cinematography and rather dire jump scares of Rings, adding competence to an incompetent narrative. Still, even D’Onofrio isn’t interesting – he’s just a presence, biding time for the finale that was spoiled in trailers.
Watching Rings is equivalent to viewing it through night vision. While aggressive orange and teal color palettes faded in popularity these past few years, it’s with hope Rings slathering itself in greens isn’t the future of color grading. Where the many saturated greens come from isn’t clear. Maybe a neon sign sits outside of these sets, bleeding in. If so, most of the budget went to powering that neon sign.
A faux grain structure sits over the image, clean enough (courtesy of Paramount’s encode) to convincingly pull off the effect. Even to these trained eyes, Rings’ artificial grain required a quick check to make sure this was shot digitally. It was.
Results then appear at substantial resolution, captivating in terms of fidelity. Outstanding close-ups keep generating clarity and detail, adding tremendous texture. Exteriors resolve unusually high levels of scenery, particularly trees. Normally a challenge, Rings sees no issue in resolving a forests worth of leaves.
Shadows perform better than expected, nicely avoiding crush where it can despite dense, low-light interiors. Dimensionality, even without the assistance of full color, highlights this third entry.
With a blistering opening aboard a plane, Rings’ DTS-HD 7.1 mix begins with a rousing example of home audio. Tracking the ambiance of jet engines before sending the plane crashing down, objects and screaming passengers panning all around, it’s a complete segment. Great LFE support gives the scene punch.
Throughout, Rings uses the soundfield for jump scares and other clever, accurate positioning. A door knocking behind a character uses the additional surrounds to grand effect. Stereos work well in terms of dialog, and crowded/public spaces fill in nicely. By design, this isn’t a consistently active mix, but surprises when things turn toward horror.
The unenthusiastic bonuses work only for the inclusion of Bonnie Morgan who takes over the role of Samara. She’s a delight in Resurrecting the Dead, taking nine minutes to run through the make-up and her performance. EPK featurette Terror Coming Full Circle attempts to justify this sequel, and Scary Scenes is a throw away as the cast discusses their movie fears. The thickest bonus? Fourteen deleted scenes (including an alternate ending) running 19-minutes.
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Rings doesn’t know where it fits in the The Ring trilogy, and its best ideas are discarded for a plodding horror mystery.
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