Naomi Watts MIA

Expanding the lore in an iconic franchise is always fraught with peril and the decidedly lackluster Rings falls into that tired storytelling trap. Samara returns for another go-around but Naomi Watts doesn’t for this soft reboot of the blockbuster horror franchise which began over two decades ago in The Ring. Given an entirely new cast mostly pulled from television, Rings isn’t half bad until a disastrously poor final act blows up anything enjoyable we get from Samara entering the digital space.

The biggest difference between Rings and its predecessors is clearly the target audience. The original film and its first sequel were mostly smart PG-13 horror flicks primarily aimed at adults, especially women. Rings goes after a decidedly younger demo, building its story around a collegiate girl and her forgettable boyfriend as Samara wreaks havoc through computers and social media.

Rings is a lame, forgettable sequel to one of Hollywood’s scariest movies

Borrowing heavily from the short film “Rings” which linked The Ring and The Ring Two, the malevolent video featuring Samara goes viral as she leaves VHS behind for an upgrade to digital video. Truly a movie for the smartphone age and social media, but the screenplay isn’t intelligent enough figuring out how to fit all that into a compelling ghost story with chilling frights.

The plucky Julia (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) is worried about her hunky boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) away at college when she discovers he’s seen a haunting video which kills anyone after seven days. Holt has fallen under the sway of a college professor (Johnny Galecki) hoping to prove the existence of the soul and an afterlife by exploiting the mysterious Samara tape. Academia certainly kills in this case.

Desperate, Julia saves her boyfriend by watching the video herself. The young woman goes on a quest to prevent Samara’s evil from going viral. The deadly Samara is looking to hit social media like any good influencer does these days.

Rings also includes Aimee Teegarden and Vincent D’Onofrio in the cast with key supporting roles. The problem with the film aren’t its direction or cast, quite serviceable by the standards of modern horror. They help establish the proper mood and tone. The main problem is a screenplay credited to several writers that has been put together much like Frankenstein.

You have an opening stinger almost entirely disconnected from the plot, giving us Samara on a plane. Then you have a middle section introducing Julia’s situation throwing out a big, new wrinkle into the mythos – Julia’s digital “copy” of the Samara video is different than all the ones we’ve seen before. Why? No good reason except the plot demands it. That’s the first real sign something is badly amiss in Rings.

The coup de grâce is a mind-numbing final act exploring Samara’s background that absolutely ruins the iconic horror character. The brain-dead mystery has only one obvious culprit in a lame rehash of Don’t Breathe. Note how Don’t Breathe hit theaters at least one year before Rings.

Most horror franchises go in one of two directions as more sequels pile up. Either they keep remaking the first movie, or they keep rebooting the premise hoping something sticks. Rings is a lame, forgettable sequel to one of Hollywood’s scariest movies. When the studio goes back for another inevitable sequel, let’s hope they have a better idea next time.

Video

Filmed on Arri digital cameras, the 2017 production was originally mastered and locked into a 2K digital intermediate. Scream Factory issues Rings in a satisfactory upscaled 4K presentation on UHD given a new polish with HDR and Dolby Vision. The 1.85:1 video features a muted palette with crisp, razor-sharp definition. Rings runs 102 minutes on a triple-layer UHD.

Rings certainly posts the least impressive jump in video quality on UHD of the three movies found in Scream Factory’s box set, mostly because the native source material looks fine on regular Blu-ray and the HDR decisions found on UHD are subtle at best. There are choice scenes which benefit from the Dolby Vision treatment but Rings isn’t demo material.

Black levels are superb in the dark movie with tempered shadow delineation. This is a clean digital transfer of modern Hollywood filmmaking with few noticeable flaws. The cinematography isn’t particularly stylish, possibly limited so the VFX can do its work.

Audio

The swirling, atmospheric 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio is the clear technical highlight in an otherwise forgettable UHD. The sound design and mixing offer state-of-the-art panning, immersing listeners in buzzing insects and an electric opening plane ride. This is the identical audio found on Paramount’s 2017 BD but the lack of Dolby Atmos isn’t an issue, this soundtrack is simply that awesome. A moody score is nicely spread across the soundstage with pristine dialogue and tight dynamics.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. A 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA option is also included.

Extras

Rings is issued on UHD as part of a six-disc combo UHD and Blu-ray set from Scream Factory titled The Ring Collection with all three films from the franchise. Each movie gets its own UHD with a companion Blu-ray holding the bonus features. Bland archival extras from the original 2017 Rings Blu-rays are included with nothing new being provided. No bonus material is found on the UHD for Rings.

The three UHD cases arrive in a hard outer shell.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (18:35 in HD) – An alternate ending is included in this batch of 14 scenes.

“Terror Comes Full Circle” Featurette (12:37 in HD)

“Resurrecting The Dead: Bringing Samara Back” Featurette (09:19 in HD)

“Scary Scenes” (06:35 in HD)

Full disclosure: This UHD was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Rings
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  • Extras
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A bad, disposable sequel sans Naomi Watts that ruins Samara as an iconic horror character

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 37 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:


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