First you watch it, then you die. Who would have realised that the Japanese-American film The Ring has finally turned fifteen this year, as the third film within the franchise hit the big screens.
Yes, fifteen years ago, the audience followed Rachel Keller, a big city journalist, who found herself investigating a videotape that had already seemed to have taken the life of four teenagers, one of which included her niece.
Of course, it wasn’t until her niece’s funeral, that Rachel stumbled upon the videotape and the urban legend that follows: first you watch it, then you die.
The viewer has seven days of unexplainable happenings, before the senseless and malevolent evil, subsequently crawls out of an ominous, claustrophobic image on television, in which you lose your life.
From the first American take on the Japanese original – a take that had depth, a sense of individuality, suspense and mystery – what could Rings possibly have to offer?
It’d be somewhat of a lie to exclaim that I wasn’t a little intrigued when I heard of a third film within the franchise, after watching the first and second, and being immersed within the suspense and mystery myself.
The third film starts of with college professor, Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), who has a strange fascination and un-subsiding fondness for vintage technology. Picking up an old VCR, Gabriel is surprised to have discovered an old VHS tape, within the now severely outdated machine. Deciding to watch this mysterious videotape, Gabriel’s life soon becomes endangered when the phone rings exclaiming, “seven days”.
Gabriel’s uncertain future soon becomes consumed by research on the infamous videotape, and Samara, the ghostly demonic entity who kills any individual who happens to see the tape.
Holt (Alex Roe), departs for college, where he is enrolled into Gabriel’s class. Here, he becomes involved in the experiment on the tape, conducted by Gabriel himself. Julia (Matilda Lutz), Holts girlfriend, decides to drive to the school, after an extended period of silence from her normally chatty boyfriend.
After witnessing the impact of the videotape and how it is impacting the very essence of life and death, and the unforgiving death that proceeds with it, Holt and Julia try to find a way in which to stop the curse and Samara, from killing further innocents.
Although, Julia and Holt’s mission quickly turns into a “freeing Samara” campaign as the two learn Samara’s dreadful history.
This third instalment to this horror franchise initially has no reason to exist. The film itself went through several major delays in the production process, as Paramount kept pushing the release date back – and for good reason.
Rings was supposed to be a soft reboot to the original film, bringing the franchise back to the centre stage. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were horrendously unsuccessful in their bid to create a revamped third film.
Rings has been handicapped by excruciatingly poor writing, which gives way for plot stuttering. It is almost as though radically different Ring scripts were commissioned and then shuffled together, in order to justify the creepy factor, which is complimented by on-pure set pieces.
Rings seemed to turn the original, flash-cut, twitchily-pulsating film, into somewhat of a snuff film, as it focuses on the insidious nature of what technology could possibly become.
Of course, this is just a metaphor in relation to modern technology, although, the film itself is no more than a dawn-of-the-internet-age horror film – a type of concept that has been over used in all genres of film.
In regards to the performances, not one character stands out for their role within the film. In fact, the film hands over to two very dull protagonists, in turn to bring some attractiveness to the screen. The portrayal of Holt and his girlfriend, seems to be very stereotypical. The ditsy young woman, and the muscular, hard hitting young male are “must-haves” in all horror films to date.
In essence, the two protagonists within this film, and many other films, really does take horror into the notion of teen flick thriller, rather than the spine chilling film, that most wanted to see. Johnny Galecki attempts to do all he can with his performance as the supporting role, but Johnny Galecki’s role is thinly written and doesn’t manage to get the job done.
In the end, Rings is no more than a poorly executed remake of the original film and has no reason for its existence, with nothing to add to the now, admittedly dead franchise.