With Matilda Lutz, Alex Row, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D'Onofrio, Aimee Teegarden, Jacob Aaron Estes
Written by David Loucka (based on characters created by Koji Suzuki)
Directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez
Along with The Grudge, the American remake of The Ring kickstarted the flood of highly effective Westernized horror movies (in the early 2000s) based on a variety of great Asian films (also including Dark Water and The Eye).
The stylistic approach, damp mood and focus on creepy children made for some memorable cinematic chills.
This third installment of The Ring franchise (based on the 1998 Japanese film Ringu, in turn based on a novel by Koji Suzuki) seems a bit late in arrival. But, the filmmakers managed to pull some more life from its cold essence.
The western Ring only clocked in two chapters (2002 & 2005), the momentum of the franchise not going beyond those films. That is why a decade later I can't help but wonder if the gap wasn't too wide to be effective (like the Blair Witch's return missed the mark), and pull fans of the originals in again (whose taste in movies may have shifted drastically). So the mission would be both to try and entice old fans as well as turn new ones onto the theme - and if they hadn't seen the previous movies, hopefully also going back to re-discover them.
As a genre fan however I feel they managed to pull off a good continuation of the deadly urban myth whereby the viewing of a (cursed) disturbing short movie on VHS video cassette result in a phone call with a girl's voice proclaiming "Seven days" - the time until your death, your fate physically crawling from the TV set to literally scare you to death. With the tale of Samara, the well, and how this all came about being explored in the original remake(s), here it is pushed into a new (technological) era, and delves deeper into Samara's origin.
A girl's college student boyfriend gets looped into a resurgence of the tape and its curse via his professor, but there seems to be a loophole to stop the deaths. The couple end up delving even deeper into Samara's origin as visions draw her into finding the truth - the dark and deadly truth.
Much of the original mood is replicated, but that initial fresh creepiness we experienced fifteen years ago cannot be recaptured with that original impact (unless of course you're oblivious to the first films, however newcomers may be a little confused if they missed the first two movies).
I can't help but wonder whether smartphone addicted kids nowadays even know what VHS tapes are? But I'm sure they'll recognise Big Bang Theory's Johnny Galecki in Rings, many fans set to shout "Bazinga!" when he bites it(!).
PS. The first Ring remake director Gore Verbinski went on to make the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, and Rings director Gutiérrez was set to do a reboot of cult favourite the Crow, but he's no longer attached.
3 / B
- Paul Blom
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Click images below for the first two Rings remakes and others linked to the genre :
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