Let me start this by saying that one of my favourite movies of all time is 1989’s Nintendo/Universal outing The Wizard. Now you know how low my bar is for cinema, you can take what I’m about to say with a pinch of salt.
On Rotten Tomatoes, Rings had the amazingly high score of 5%, so I knew I had to check it out. You may be shouting at your screen, calling me a hipster or whatever the word is for someone who likes things just because other people don’t, but that’s not the case… I just really love bad horror movies. Whether that stems back to being a child and watching Thriller on repeat until I wore out the VHS or not is a psychiatrist’s business, not mine.
Although I don’t think the hipster moniker applies anymore, it almost certainly did when my love of the Ring series began. I was a teenager at music college and the pretentious know-it-all thing to do was to love (and shout about) things from mystical far away lands. I didn’t go The Beatles’ route and slap a sitar into my music whether it fit or not… I chose to dedicate all of my pompousness to Japanese horror.
I remember not wanting to watch the Hollywood retellings of Dark Water, The Grudge, The Eye and yes, The Ring, because I was a purist. It turns out, I wasn’t a purist, I was an idiot. I secretly watched, and on the whole liked, the Western remakes (not that I’d tell anyone that circa 2003).
I know there have been a wave of phoned in sequels, remakes and reimaginings in horror recently, so when I saw Rings was coming out I tempered my expectations. My expectations were shattered further when I rocked up to the cinema and found out that even though Rings had only been out for 3 days, it had already been relegated to the smallest capacity screen. Still positive, I thought that it’d make a nice environment having people packed closely into a room, all there solely to be scared. It turns out that I was the only person there, so instead of a bustling theatre of horror fans, it was more like I had the world’s most extravagant screen and sound system in my living room. With my expectations at an all-time low, I still watched with a glimmer of hope.
I always go into movies knowing as little about them as possible. I avoid trailers at all costs, so I didn’t know any of the cast, whether Samara was going to make an appearance, or even if they’d added in some Off-Broadway style musical numbers. I said in the title that I’d keep this spoiler-free, so I’ll treat you the way I like to be treated — no cast, plot points, or anything else… just pure opinion.
I’m going to say it… Rings is the best movie in the series so far.
Maybe that’s hyperbole because I’ve only just seen it and haven’t watched the original in over a decade, but I found their exploration of the history far more compelling and sinister than the island trip they make in The Ring. There are a few jump scares and points that make you feel uneasy, but on the whole, Rings isn’t intensely scary and probably doesn’t even live up to the fright of the original. The pacing and story more than make up for the lack of scares in my eyes and it doesn’t hide behind cheap shock tactics.
I’m not claiming that Rings is the best horror film made ever, or even in the past year, but I’m here to fight it’s corner and tell you to go and give it a chance. It won’t change your life, but it won’t ruin it either.
I know I spent the majority of the article peppering in anecdotes and my history with the franchise, but I didn’t want to give anything away. I just wanted this to be a PSA to not write Rings off as a heartless sequel cash-in with no substance. The acting is great, the characters are believable and they didn’t just rehash the exact same story. The premise is in tact, but I really like the liberties they took with the lore.
Don’t get me wrong, Rings is no The Wizard, but it was definitely worth the popcorn and my time.
Let me know what you liked (and didn’t like) about Rings.