In 2002 The Ring introduced one of the most iconic faces in horror today. Even if you’ve never seen this film, you instantly recognize Samara the little ghost girl with bad hair who comes out of your TV and kills you after 7 days if you’ve watched her video tape. It introduced a new kind of suspense. Seeing her crawl out of that well and then take what feels like another 7 days to get to her victim was intense and kept you watching.
Rings however just did not bring any of that back to the table. The opening scene was a mess and took me out of the movie right away. We get a nervous man sitting next to a woman on a plane. They introduce themselves right away and out of nowhere he tells her that he’s scared about a video tape he watched and supposedly a girl kills you after 7 days and how he has to just stay alive for the next 10 minutes. Okay not something you should tell a complete stranger on a plane. She gets up and talks to her friend about how “the hot guy is freaking out about a killer video tape”. The friend immediately runs over to him and asks him if he made a copy for someone else to watch and he replies with “no” and she already knows its too late and everyone on the plane is going to die. What bothers me the most about this opening is how sudden everything happens and it felt like something you would tell for a campfire story. What are the odds that someone else on the same plane knew about the tape? Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) is my favorite character in this film and also the one with the most interesting story. Gabriel finds the tape at a flea market, watches it, and then Samara calls him to confirm his appointment. He then has cryptic visions after the call which I thought was a nice touch and should have been used in the previous two films. Gabriel is a college teacher and after watching the tape tries to prove the existence of spirits by studying Samara and the tape, but also showing it to his students which he has a whole formula for which is something we’ve never seen and they barely show us anything about it at all. Photos of students with warped faces, monitors of time left until death for everyone who watches the tape. Instead of focusing on that story they chose to focus on Julia a character that didn’t really need to be a part of the film at all. Julia inserts herself into trouble when its not necessary. Watching the tape to protect her boyfriend and then her boyfriend having to protect her puts them in the same situation to begin with. Julia has nightmares of Samara before she even watches the tape and apparently is the chosen one who is supposed to solve the mystery behind Samara. I remember The Ring Two and Samara being locked away for good in the well which lead to a happy ending. Its unclear and unexplained how she’s back and haunting again. Gabriel exits the film and leaves his research to Julia and Holt when he really doesn’t need to leave at all. This film is cluttered and it felt like the filmmakers didn’t know which direction to go with. Although the story is a mess I really enjoyed the special effects. Seeing Samara come out of a TV that was face down looked amazing. This was an okay film, but instead of focusing on a new compelling story, it chose to release a film that felt more like a failed homage to the previous films rather than focus on the new elements that could have been a great new take on an iconic story for a new generation to enjoy as well as original fans to fall back in love with.