Friday, April 21, 2017

A Haunted VHS Tape for Generation iPhone, or I Watched Rings, So You Don’t Have To

Is it possible to make a movie about a haunted/cursed video less scary while living in a world where everyone has 24-hour, unlimited access to video?  The question was not deliberately posed by the filmmakers of Rings (2017), the latest reboot with attractive teens and non-compelling digital effects that brings nothing new, innovative or most important, frightening to the franchise.
Samira is back, though now she’s a digital character like Gollum or Jar Jar, and haunting the computer screens of college kids after their professor finds a swap meet VCR that just happens to have a cursed videotape stuck inside it.  As always, once you watch the video, your life slowly integrates with the dream/nightmare world, or Samira begins to latch into your world, either way you’re dead in a week unless you pass on the curse, by getting some other poor sap to watch the video.
With Johnny Galecki from Rosanne still getting work as the aforementioned college professor.  The original Ring (2002) was also PG-13 but starred an adult, single mom Naomi Watts and was directed by Gore Verbinski.  It’s difficult to make an effective PG-13 horror movie without quality performances and nuanced directing; you can’t go nuts on the blood and guts (see what I did there, I’m a rapper) when you’re chasing that fickle teen dollar.
The Ring (2002) was also a remake when it arrived on these shores of the Japanese hit Ringu (リング, 1998), so I suppose that makes Rings a reboot of a remake?  It Follows (2014) had a far better and updated premise that seems  at least in part, inspired by The Ring and what do you know, was still an original film.  Finally, the most compelling and horrifying aspect of the series is how the TV screen becomes a window for Samira to crawl out of, but how is she supposed to come out of your phone?  The worst she could do is tickle your ear or poke an eyeball.

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