IT’S BEEN 13 years since Samara first terrorised Naomi Watts on screen.
And with the latter no longer attached to the series, one might ask why after such a long hiatus (at least from a western audience point of view) should we revisit Samara’s tale.
Pending the film’s success, Paramount were keen to replicate the success that Paranormal Activity delivered to the box office and plans were considered to potentially have annual stories that delved further into the Ring franchise.
It does hinge on the success of this movie me whether or not there was still a hunger to see Samara inflict her virus on the world once more.
Being a fan of the original movie by Hideo Nakata I find that I am always drawn to the series to see how it pans out.
There have been a mixture of successes and failures among them and I was intrigued by the premise of this latest venture.
Namely that that virus itself will transfer using modern technology, computer files etc and that it would mutate with a shortened life expectancy of its victims from five days of being infected and Samara’s inevitable visit being whittled down to just two.
This amplifying the expediency, drama and tension.
It looked promising and all it needs is a strong plot line to make this a strong candidate for making a great film.
So let’s dissect that a little further and look at the story development as it unfolds.
Firstly, we’re thrust straight into the action, when two victims are travelling on an airline flight as deadline approaches.
Cue panic and disarray as they try to out run Samara within the confines of an airline cabin.
Let’s face it, it ain’t gonna happen and within the blink of an eye the plane crashes along with the characters who contracted the virus.
Samara is back and a whole new generation of souls are gonna be her victims.
The story then picks up with our lead protagonist, Julia, played by Italian model, Matilda Lutz.
Matilda certainly has the looks to keep you engaged and just about has enough acting chops to stick with her character arc.
It picks up with her boyfriend Holt, who goes off to college and their relationship becomes estranged as he pulls away from her.
It’s only when Julia receives a manic call from Skye demanding to know Holt’s whereabouts that Julia is compelled to find out what’s going on.
As she tumbles further down the well of curiosity, Julia encounters a college professor, Gabriel, who has set up something of an experiment after initially watching the cursed video and then employing a group of students to watch, copy, and then pass on the virus.
The group is known as ‘The Sevens’ is possibly the most enlightening aspect of the movie and the concept of each participant needing a ‘tail’ to pass on the virus had an element of an old school spy thriller to it, which would have been interesting to see that explore further.
As it is though, we’re propelled forward when Julia goes to Skye’s apartment, who’s deadline is fast approaching and she tries to force Julia to watch the video, fails, thanks to Holt’s intervention and Julia witnesses Skye’s demise at the hands of Samara.
When Julia leans that Holt’s life is on the line, she watched the said curse video file, only to ignite a whole new can of worms as the virus transforms.
There is a hidden file within the file that are Easter eggs or breadcrumbs that Julia must now follow in order to find Samara’s corpse and find a final resting place and end the curse.
The problem with the movie is that whilst it tries to focus a and shift the Ring horror movie into a modern world it needs to expand the universe.
So much focus lands on this that it loses the impact and mystery that surrounded the original.
There are rules upon rules that need to be discovered and inevitably broken and the tension that is supposed to be ramping up just gets lost in its own ether.
There are loose threads that try to tie it back to the novels by Koji Suzuki, particularly around the middle novel in the trilogy, Spiral and the notion of rebirth that plays out in the film’s conclusion.
Essentially though, the film tries to ground itself in the land of Samara and it ticks along nicely enough to keep you engaged, but there’s not enough to keep you hooked and make a difference to the genre resulting in a misfire.
The Samara scares are slim and that’s what people pay to see.
It’s all very well to build tension, but the film even lacks these elements to gain enough momentum to reach a decent scare factor.
Ultimately Rings is watchable, but not unmissable as a result.