Another year, another reboot. In the case of the upcoming Paramount Pictures film Rings, it doesn't look like it'll be worth all that much. A sequel coming years after the previous installment and a reboot starring people you've barely even heard of. What could possibly go wrong with this latest entry in a franchise that should've stayed as dead as #Samara?
Hope Is But A Brief Glimmer
From the looks of things in this newest trailer, which is more of a teaser and thus shorter than the first trailer, the only glimmer of hope comes in the form of star Matilda Lutz opening an email. Why is this hope? It's taking the franchise in a logical direction. Granted, by now, with Sadako having been released in Japan back in 2012, it's not all that novel. Even when you think about it, Kevin Williamson with Scream 4 even managed to tap into this internet trend a bit. If we're going to grow tired of the internet being used as a conduit for evil, this film might as well help pave the way to that inevitability. With the famous cursed video now being able to be viewed online, including, of course, on smartphones and tablets, its ability to spread fear and kill is that much greater. One would think that something like that would be appealing. However, it can't be. There probably won't be a logical reason for how and why it's online. Yes, the writers (all three of them) no doubt came up with a reason, but it's going to end up being some dud that just makes you want to roll your eyes. That's the problem with sequels of this nature. What can you come up with that will make the franchise and film move forward, be semi-fresh and simply sound plausible? Virtually nothing.
Make It Up As You Go Along
For a sequel/reboot (#sequoot?) like this, sticking with what's been done before must be abandoned. It's the obvious step, but at the same time, it comes with its own set of problems. Changing the mythology has seldom worked well in any medium of storytelling, and yet, that's exactly what keeps happening. While it may be semi-acceptable for the #horror classics, it isn't now. It just looks silly as what's being asked of the audience isn't remotely plausible or logical. That being said, while I believe it was done much better than what we'll see in this film, The Ring Two suffered from this exact issue. The Grudge 2 also tried to be bold, but largely created a new set of rules that were too farfetched, and set up a second sequel that shouldn't have seen the light of day. In this film, we're getting things like skin peeling and a circle (a ring) appearing on the back of a character. Why? That's not Samara's M.O. The things she's done before were plenty traumatizing and creepy, why add new stuff? What's different about this cursed video that requires new bodily harm? Is there something different? This trailer quickly flashed through the images on the video, so I can't say with certainty if there's something new.
What Motivates You?
With any horror film, even reboots and tedious sequels, one element, of many, is crucial. The how and why a character is involved. Without it, you just have lifeless and uninteresting characters that are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, as they try and avoid almost certain death. Mind you, we'll probably still get cardboard cutouts, so why hold out hope that their motivations will make any sense at all? How do Lutz and her friends get involved? Well, other than receiving the video in an email, what starts this whole nightmare? Based on this trailer, your guess is as good as mine. There's no indicator. With the original remake film #TheRing, you had something that made sense. Naomi Watts' Rachel Keller was a journalist. She asks questions for a living. So, not only does she have a familial connection, which brings in an emotional center (which will no doubt be missing from this film), but you also had the fact that Watts wanted to know the truth behind what killed four healthy teenagers. Are we going to be getting something similar with this new film? Are these new characters more or less going to stumble upon this video and its deadly consequences? Yes, in the original film we still got our classic (trope) search for answers, but it was given a new slant. Here, we seem to be back to just seeing characters who'll probably be searching out of desperation. Everything will be by accident and follow a familiar formula.
Made You Jump
Another big issue with sequoots or simple sequels, is how you're able to be scared. Too often what's relied on are jump scares. No tension. No suspense. Jump scares. When I think about this franchise, it's impossible not to marvel at how The Ring director (Gore Verbinski) crafted the scares for the first film and set a very specific tone. While #TheRingTwo may not be as good as the original, it still benefits from a similar approach. They were well done and genuinely elicited reactions from me, that even today, I seldom get from horror films. Sadly, I'm afraid that's exactly what we won't get. We got crap jump scares with The Grudge 3, which even without factoring those wasted moments was all sorts of terrible. Why not expect it here. This is definitely a downside to getting a trailer with even less in it. The one indicator I have to go off of now, is when a character (Lutz?) is looking in a mirror and she turns around a few times. During that time, Samara appears and disappears, only to reappear in that all too familiar jump scare manner. It's been done to death before, so keeping it makes sense as none of the potential audience members will notice its all a bit too familiar.
For my previous thoughts on this film's first trailer, mosey on over here.
Rings is set to open on Feb. 3, 2017.
Director: F. Javier Gutierrez
Writers: David Loucka, Jacob Estes and Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Aimee Tegarden, Bonnie Morgan and Vincent D'Onofrio.