In 2016, this film was the most anticipated remake in a long time, but all I can say is that it went sideways while trying to adapt a Japanese film from 1998, which, in turn, is based on the famous mystery, horror novel; The Ring by Kôji Suzuki, published in 1991, which spawned numerous sequels, prequels, and an earlier remake by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003), starring Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson & Daveigh Chase as Samara. A mundane remake that leaves it to the viewers’ imagination to determine peril and a certain potency of the hair-on-face legacy on their own.
This one, by director F. Javier Gutiérrez (Before the Fall, 2008) and Jacob Estes (Mean Creek, 2004), & Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, 2001) as screen-writers, is sadly unnecessary and sluggish, inevitably derivative and, again, pointless to begin with, wrenching the Rings mythology dry of whatever little heritage of fear was left after the 200th film was made before Hollywood decided to give this one another treatment for God knows what reason.
I mean we already have the Ring trilogy by Kôji Suzuki, which was the first film of the three, along with two sequels: Spiral and Loop. On top of that, we have eight Japanese films and adaptations, Ring, 1998; Rasen, 1998; The Ring Virus, 1999; Spiral, 1999; Ring 2, 1999; Ring: The Final Chapter, 1999; Ring 0: Birthday, 2000; The Ring, 2002; Rings, 2005; The Ring Two, 2005; Rings, 2017 and Sadako, 2019.
Two television series, six manga adaptations, three American film remakes, a Korean film remake, and two video games; The Ring: Terror’s Realm and Ring: Infinity. I mean, there’s overkill and then there’s the number of times the source material from Suzuki has been verbreused (abused) and recycled and remade and re-what not. So, there’s overkill and in this case, overindulgence, overplus and also overstock and meaningless surplusage, utterly futile and uncalled for. However, the films are there, streaming everywhere and every once in a long while it manages to scare as the 1998 original did, not just scare but maim and terrify in a way that none had before that in the post-modern world where horror has taken on a new meaning; it translates to bills with Benjamin Franklin on it, lots of it, in millions.
This pale imitation by F. Javier Gutiérrez is the convenience store equivalent to the ring franchise. A $25 million worth of join the dots, plot on the go, Samara, Evelyn, Jennifer, Annabel (everyone is here, let’s pray), franchise.
Holt also. With a name like Holt you can’t go wrong but this is Koji Suzuki’s baby we are messing with and Mr. Suzuki does not approve, Holt or not, a steam-roller of a Vincent D’Onofrio or not, Rings is lethargic, an endless loop of muddled mythology and plot points that have been used so many times now that they have started to erode at the sides and the bottom and some on the top. This film has no saving grace, Hannah Grace and her exorcism included, or not. Yes, it was the most anticipated remake but who was anticipating the rise of Samara for the 500th time? The millennials you say, after the truly mysterious and hair-raising mythology had reached their ears?
What do they know? A whole lot. OK. Still, this film is absolutely not required, not one bit, with its lazy jump scares and a convoluted origins story no one asked for, but the kids who are now accidental adults. I say accidentally since the millennials, and this is an observation of your very own holy-mountain-goat-man, have a false sense of self-entitlement, which also regrettably comes in the way the films are selected and also the way they’re consumed. Some have embraced the Classic Hollywood and how the cinema Outré phenomena is becoming a convention, violating it with some of the greatest post-modern films made, for instance, Dragged Across Concrete, The Witch, Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse, The Nightingale, 2019; The Color out of Space, Hounds of Love, The Lighthouse, and then there are those, which are made for, it seems, just them, like the Batman Trilogy by Nolan or the time-bending, one-dimensional (director trademark) characters, multi-layered, deafening score that makes the dialogues hard to listen and the theater management insist that their speakers are working just fine (turns out this is also something that Chris Nolan does with his films), the alternate physics canoodling, Tenet, or the massively popular, almost as much as Heath Ledger‘s character, with a feral performance from Joaquin Phoenix, the especially dark, gritty DC movie, Joker, 2019 and the upcoming Matt Reeves‘ Batman with Robert Pattinson and the unsettling and highly uncompromising and brutal remake of Argento‘s cult classic, which is also a blueprint of sorts for budding filmmakers, with an association of highly charged and ominous proportions: Suspiria, 2018.
Coming back to a place where the hair is the root of all evil, Rings; well, at least the twist has saving grace, and then the VHS revolution happens with pandemic consequences; old phones ringing all over the world at the same time, a girl’s voice whispering “7 Days” from the other side. Does she know that “7 Days” is another revenge-horror picture fighting tooth and nail to make a mark on the world of horror? It could be Braille, the mark, not the script. Ummm, now that I’ve said it, perhaps the script was in Braille too.
Leave her alone, Samara is the fucking devil itself and now, as the film suggests, a brilliant eye surgeon.
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