In my previous reviews for Candyman, I talked about how urban legends can make for scary cinema. Many urban legends tie back to mankind’s fear of the unknown. That ties in to the small stuff such as lights flicking and a slight gust of wind. The assumption behind those mild disturbances is that it’s all a part of something bigger. A ghost? Maybe. A demon? Possible. Whatever their mind is seeing, they all get an idea that there’s some sort of story behind it that explains it’s need to haunt. This is how stuff like the Slenderman, the Bat-Boy of Jersey, and other crazy supermarket tabloid-like tales come from.
Now how urban legends can become scary cinema depends on how much it can relate to real life. As I said, the more fear it can generate from how real it is, the more people could think something like this would happen, even if they knew the work in question was obviously fiction. One such movie is the thriller from Gore Verbinski, The Ring. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it, but I remember it being very entertaining with its ominous dark atmosphere and a haunted tape that feels like something that could only be talked about at school lunches. Like last years Blair Witch, let’s see if Rings justifies a long wait for another movie.
We’re introduced to Julia (played by Matilda Lutz) whose saying goodbye to her boyfriend Holt (played by Alex Roe) who is off to a separate college from her. The two seem to keep a distant relationship alright through the use of Skype and texting, even if it’s starting to become les frequent with Holt. One day, Julia gets a call from a panicked girl asking for whatever happened to Holt. This gets Julia to go to his school to see what’s been happening.
She meets Holt’s biology professor Gabriel (played by Johnny Galecki) who simply tells her to go home. She follows the suspicious teacher to find an underground experiment that’s studying the cursed tape from the previous movies to look into the only key to the afterlife. Julia finds the panicked girl named Skye. She tries to get Julia to watch the tape, but finds it too late when the girl in the video Samara coming to get her now that her seven days are up. Julia eventually finds Holt who decide to study the tape to uncover the mystery surrounding the tape and the images within.
Rings serves as more proof that if your going to wait awhile to make another continuation, at least show that the years kept in suspense were worth it. This was a lot like Blair Witch, which tried to bring in new ideas along with some new character’s, but only this was stuck with a script that honestly would have been impossible to save even if Stanley Kubrick were directing.
I cannot blame the actors who are clearly trying their best to become engaged with the mystery (including Vincent D’Onofrio who may be the most memorable in the movie). The direction gets a pass as well considering the tone is still gloomy and depressing, looking a lot like the original. The script makes several scenes that are just constant exposition and rarely allows time for the audience to take it in before going to the next location. A far as characters go, our college student leads are about as compelling as styrofoam. Why couldn’t the tape fall into the hands of a big star or a governor? Wouldn’t the idea of the cursed tape haunting a political official be more fun and interesting?
I’ll give this two cursed tapes out of five. If your looking for something scary, you might find it here, but you have to get through a lot of exposition to find it. It may be PG-13, but this is a terrible way for a teen to be introduced to horror. I’d say only check it out if gloomy atmosphere can give you a spook. Otherwise, considering a how few people use videotapes anymore, the story of The Ring may be stuck in the garage sale box.