Don’t Call Us:
Yeah; I know. That’s a pretty cheesy header, but it’s all I could think of.
I didn’t really expect cinematic lightning to strike me twice in the same week. After all, it was hardly likely that F. Javier Gutiérrez’s sequel to the sequel of a Japanese original was going to be in any way groundbreaking. Not after just having seen M. Night Shyamalan’s wonderful Split.
Still, Rings is a handsome, glossy-looking film, as was Gore Verbinski’s American remake of The Ring in 2002. It comes complete with direction that gives hope for a more substantial offering from Gutiérrez in the future and coffee-table cinematography from Sharon Meir.
Although some people may be indulging in a little revisionism, both the original (with a smashing performance from Naomi Watts) and in particular the Japanese version were really pretty unnerving at the time.
Alas, we’ve taken the dipper too often to the well (to the well, geddit?) and it is really hard to find this one in any way creepy, despite or perhaps because of the irritating number of jump scares, which began to seriously get on my nerves.
Still, the opening sequence is tense and exciting, with two passengers on a storm-hit plane flight having recently watched the famous videotape that leaves you dead seven days later. And this is the seventh day. In this prelude we see the demonic Samara Morgan (Bonnie Morgan) – she who was left to die at the bottom of that well – emerge into our reality in the aircraft toilet.
I wonder if this is being shown as an in-flight movie.
By the way, did you hear about the doctor who fell down the well?
He should have tended to the sick and left the well alone. Boom-boom!
We then move on to meet our two uninteresting heroes. Well, Julia (Matilda Lutz) is OK, she’s a bit of a fighter; I’m not sure what her fella Holt (Alex Roe) is, apart from a guy with distractingly pretty eyes.
And I can’t believe I just typed that.
There is some lovely and even gorgeous imagery, in particular rain pouring from the ground into the sky; and I found myself rather enjoying the first twenty or so minutes.
And then Julia goes and willfully watches the tape, knowing it will kill her. This she does to apparently buy time for her dimwitted boyfriend and his pretty eyes.
Jesus, what does she see in this clown? His entire contribution to the nightmare in which they find themselves boils down to:
“Don’t worry, we’ll work it out.”
That’s as helpful as he gets. You could set that to music if you weren’t so shit-scared of Samara popping out at you. I mean, this is a guy who announces that he only has twelve hours to live, then has sex and takes a nap.
I’ve seen film heroines do some completely flaky things in horror movies, but Julia, baby, I have to tell you: giving yourself a death sentence for this guy is up there with the barmiest of them.
The oddest thing about Rings is how weirdly old-fashioned it feels. I was expecting the writers (David Louka, Jacob Aaron Estes and Akiva Goldsman) to update things a bit; but apart from using mobile phones to some effect, it’s got a seen-it-all before feel to it.
We delve a little more into Samara’s family past, but really and truly, this girl’s life was so unrelentingly tragic that you just feel like shouting that enough is enough. And truth to tell, I’ve forgotten at this point just why she is so intent on taking her revenge on the entire world.
Still, it’s an undemanding and stylish hour and forty minutes – and it’s got a cameo from Vincent D’Onofrio, even if he’s not exactly interested in stretching his range as an actor here.
If you’re a fan of the Samara Mythos, then you’ll definitely get some enjoyment out of it. For myself, I think that it’s time for the filmmakers to leave poor, tormented Samara to rest in peace.
Although something tells me that they’re not going to.
Well, nor really; but it amused me. When I got in from Rings last night I thought it was time to take a break from Alan Moore’s interesting but exhausting novel Jerusalem and instead was browsing through his twenty-year-old Black Dossier – and what do I come across but this:
“Just as the Whore of Babylon is thought to be a Christian demonizing of the Babylonian mother-goddess Ishtar, so too is Smarra, with her name, in all likelihood being a corruption of ‘Samara’, another centre of Ishtar worship during the Babylonian period.”
Hmmm. An unusual name like that popping up twice in three hours.
I wonder if there’s a horse called ‘Samara’ running this afternoon…