It’s been 15 years since The Ring and 12 years since its sequel The Ring Two; simpler times when ghosts on videotapes killed people and teens had to flock to a friend’s house to watch it. In a sense, it’s clear why a new, fresh version of The Ring is needed. Technology has changed; imagine the destruction that could be caused by an attachment to a chain email.
However, I feel like 12 years is too long to continue the thread of a story in detail. Having not watched the first two Ring films in years, part of me feels like I’m playing catch-up as I try to remember the storyline as names, dates and accusations are thrown at me from the screen. Instead of doing what Jurassic World did to Jurassic Park (essentially a rehash of the first film but set in the present day with homage to the original), Rings carries on with an unnecessarily complex origin story.
If you thought the origin of killer ghost – the girl from the well – Samara Morgan was already investigated in the second film, then this is the origin of the origin. Rings takes us even further back to the bad luck that befalls Samara’s mother Evelyn. In addition to the origin story, we also have several subplots that include any number of ideas that could’ve well been their own film: a faithless priest, a missing girl, a secret dungeon, a rogue college professor, and a bizarre social experiment involving students watching the cursed videotape.
For all its flaws, Samara’s origin story is rather engaging. While the main characters are quite bland, the supporting characters of Professor Gabriel Brown (Johnny Galecki) and Galen Burke (Vincent D’Onofrio) are relatively interesting and very well portrayed. The horror, though, at its best, relies heavily on jump-scares. So there we have it: the anti-horror film, where the story is actually engaging but the horror is meek.