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Samara has gone digital! VHS, her vengeful format of choice was already on borrowed time in 2002, when Rings, Gore Verbinski’s Japanese horror remake hit theaters. Fifteen years later, as the franchise resurfaces with Rings, do kids even remember VCR’s? It’s all good though; director For. Javier Gutierrez has embraced the high-tech society we live in. Unfortunately, his efforts will likely induce boredom.
Julia (Matilda Lutz) is heartbroken after her hunky boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) jets off for college. The couple regularly keeps the embers burning with Skype. However, when Julia gets a strange call from Holt’s computer, she drives to his school to investigate. She finds herself immediately drawn into a cursed video watching club (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?), started by professor Gabriel Brown (The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki), who’s determined to prove his theory that the afterlife is reachable through the tape, and is willing to sacrifice his students to do it.
Skye (Aimee Teegarden), professor Brown’s student and girlfriend, is marked for death after watching the tape and can’t find what the club calls a “tail,” someone who the Ring curse can be passed along to. Skye tries to pass the curse along to Julia, but instead Julia ends up seeing Skye’s gruesome death, courtesy of Samara. So it’s confusing that, with no hesitation at all, Julia later chooses to watch the video in a bid to free Holt from the curse. I know she loves the guy, but man, Julia has seen what this curse can do! As it turns out, Samara has encoded some kind of secret message into the tape, and it’s left for Julia to follow the clues to relieve Samara of her pain.
It’s worth noting that Vincent D’onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) has a cameo as a blind cemetery caretaker. His presence doesn’t do much to advance the plot here, but I did wonder if he would show up again if some executive felt strongly that The Ring franchise needed another installment. One of the biggest problems with Rings is the indistinguishable characters. Julia and Holt are just two bland, lovey-dovey kids. At least Naomi Watts’ character in the first two films was building a career while taking care of a child with special needs. In contrast, these kids are dull, and without a care in the world. Things get a little more interesting for the young couple once they leave the safety of the college campus, but I didn’t feel invested in whatever happened to them.
The lead acting left a lot to be desired. Matilda Lutz looks lovely, but she doesn’t seem to have any dramatic range. Stiff seems to be her go to stance. On the other side of the coin, Alex Roe tends to overplay his scenes. It’s possible he’s over compensating for Lutz’s stiffness. Whatever the case, it makes for a bit of an odd pairing. However, not even the best across in the world could make Rings a less tedious experience.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this is a pretty good 1080p transfer. Overall, sharpness was impressive, with the exception of noticeable softness during some of the interiors. Nonetheless, most of the film offers fine delineation. There are no apparent print flaws to mar the proceedings. The color palette is heavily teal, with a drab shade of blue-green dominating at times; all are well rendered. Blacks are deep, occasionally they seem a bit thick, though shadows look rather good. Generally, the imagery is clear.
The DTS-HD MA 7.1 presentation is very atmospheric. While the mix emphasizes creepy ambience, it’s still pretty dynamic when necessary. The entire soundscape is used quite well throughout the proceedings. Active use of the spooky elements puts viewers right in the middle of things. Bass and deep low ends are very pleasing. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise throughout.
English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Terror Comes Full Circle (HD, 12:37) A look at updates from the prior films, The director’s approach to the material, stunts, and locations. Includes comments from makeup effects designer Arjen Tuiten, production designer Kevin Kavanaugh, stunt coordinator Keith Campbell, and actors Johnny Galecki, Bonnie Morgan, Aimee Teegarden, Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe and Kayli Carter.
- Resurrecting the Dead (HD, 9:19) In this look at the film’s portrayal of Samara, we get remarks from Roe, Morgan, Tuiten and Galecki.
- Scary Scenes (HD, 6:35) Lutz, Roe, Galecki, Teegarden, Carter, and Morgan share their favorite moments from the film.
- Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (HD, 18:40) 14 in all.
- DVD copy of the film.
- Digital HD
Movie title: Rings (2017)
Director(s): F. Javier Gutiérrez
Actor(s): Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz,, Alex Roe,, Johnny Galecki,, Aimee Teegarden, Bonnie Morgan, Vincent D'Onofrio
Genre: Horror, Drama