Leave Well Enough Alone: RINGS (2017) Review

A young woman and her boyfriend seek to investigate the history behind Samara and her haunted video tape after the tape has suddenly gone viral. The two hope to end her reign of terror once and for all.

When I first saw the trailer for third film for The Ring, I can’t say I was excited, but I was at least interested into seeing the direction it would go now that Samara’s type has gone viral. Unfortunately, that aspect of the movie is hardly touched upon and is merely a set up for the rest of the film. The second film was very by-the-numbers, and I had some optimism that this third film could only go up. I was very wrong. This movie is terrible. The first half hour had some promise when it establishes how the tape is now spreading and it’s developed an almost underground cult following. A college group led by their professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) are almost addicted to the tape like a drug and try to look for spiritual elements from it, all the while having to pass the curse on by finding a “tail” to stop their curse. The spiritual/science aspect is far fetched, but it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting than what we got. Instead we are introduced to the annoying, loving, happy couple Julia and Holt (seriously, they’re really nauseating). Holt goes off to college and suddenly goes off the radar, so Julie just drops everything and follows him to campus and looks for him.

This is when she stumbles upon the cult and sees that Holt has watched the tape. She ends up watching it to save him, and then the two team up with Gabriel to track the history of Samara. Besides the first half hour when the only horror really happens, it has some nice throwbacks to the original film, more so that they used the actual footage from Samara’s flashback and not just redone stuff. Even though we’ve seen Samara come out of the t.v., the phone call, and the famous video tape before, it did have a good sense of nostalgia to it from when you first saw the original. But the rest of the film plays out like the first movie with the investigation aspects. But at least the investigation done by Naomi Watts in the first film had scary moments thrown in and actually felt like it was going somewhere. This was dry as hell with no real scares or tension or suspense at all, and it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. They try to throw in “a tape within the tape” that only Julia can see that makes no sense whatsoever, and then it just turns into them talking to a bunch of people and we get more background on Samara and her mother Evelyn. And quite frankly it is all pointless. The small bit of information we got from the first film and the second film gave just enough to satisfy but didn’t get carried away. For those who hate origin stories, this one is the worst, mostly because, as I said, there’s no point whatsoever to it. Had it explained what made Samara so evil, that would have been better. Instead it tries to make us feel sympathy for Samara and not fear her anymore, oh and again they have the characters wanting to “set her free” in order to stop everything (we all know how that works). Basically after the first half hour it no longer feels like a Ring film, just two people trying to solve a mystery about a dead girl. It doesn’t even follow the formula of the 7 days stuff. Nothing spooky happens, and it just forgets that this is all happening and Julia could potentially die. The final scene then ends up being almost a repeat of the plot for The Ring Two and feels completely out of left field. And don’t get me started on a sequence that is clearly ripping off Don’t Breathe, and not very subtly either.

Along with the horrible script, we have horrible actors. Matilda Lutz who plays Julia is the worst lead actress in a mainstream horror that I’ve seen in a while. It was cringeworthy, and her delivery made her sound like she was drunk. Alex Roe plays Julia’s boyfriend Holt, and he has no purpose other than to be the good-looking and caring boyfriend and goes through the film just speaking the dialogue and hardly seems like he’s trying or even cares. Even Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance is bad. Johnny Galecki is okay, but he also seems bored at the same time, and really he’s the only interesting character in the movie. Surprisingly, Aimee Teegarden turns in a much better performance here than I’ve seen her in past films, most especially Scream 4 and Beneath the Darkness. Had the film revolved around her character (who is kind of established as the punk girl) and Gabriel, we at least would have characters with a personalities to follow. But Teegarden has like only 7 minutes of screen time in the first half hour.

I am really baffled at how bad this movie was and how they let it go that much off the rails. With such an appealing first half hour, they choose to remake the first film but no real scares, build up, and really forgetting what made the first film scary, as well as the main plot line with the tape. Add in shitty acting, and you have one of the worst horror movies of this decade.

–Cody Landman