Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Rings

of 11 viewers "Liked" "Rings" (2017, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Impostor (R) - "Rings is the sequel we've been waiting 12 years for. I'm still deciding if it was worth the wait or not. Rings wasn't a bad sequel, nor was it that good. It's definitely in the middle but I did find it entertaining. This go around the scare factor is lacking; it's more of a mystery thriller with Samara popping in a few scenes. It was great seeing Samara Morgan back on the big screen but I did feel her presence wasn't as effective as it was in past films. While I do feel Rings is better tha The Ring 2, the story at times became confusing and all over the place. Acting wasn't up to par, it's basically The Bye Bye Man standards on that note. I did enjoy seeing into the past of Samara and some of the twists were interesting. Overall Rings isn't the best it could've been after waiting all this time but it was enjoyable. I'd recommend a rent on this, one it could've easily been a straight to VOD or Blu-ray release." - 3 Stars

The Ascendant (R) - "F. Javier Gutierrez’s 2017 entry into the (now) 19-year series is utterly forgettable and uninspired. Underneath a pedestrian script (co-written by Mean Creek director/writer Jacob Aaron Estes), a mélange of emotionally flat characters and a direction akin to sleepwalking, is a concept I was curious to see (properly) fleshed out. Although the film introduces it in an extremely clunky manner, Gutierrez takes a previous concept seen in Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (2002) and brings it to new heights. Well almost. The concept in Verbinski’s 2002 film, that (physically) copying the infamous cursed videotape circumvents the curse, is only addressed lightly and regulated to a meaningless plot device. It’s a concept that could have laid the framework for an utterly fascinating & manic entry into the series, manipulating the anxiety of time similar to how Koji Shiraishi’s film Sadako vs. Kayako (2016) did previously. Gutierrez’s failure at doing so exposes the film’s (extremely) derivative plot. Rings (2017) is a sheep in wolf’s clothing, nothing more." - 1 Star

Dabbles - "The Ring has always been kind of the one movie that I was always afraid of. That being said this sequel wasn't as scary as it is creepy. Of course the constant jump scares made my anxiety jump a lot, but the things that they did as far as story line and plot did work for me. Some basic and some clever, the ideas that went into this movie did work a whole lot. Although it did borrow some things from other movies, Rings does bring this retro plot line into the new age. By the way, enjoy blind William Fisk." - 4 Stars

Math Mage - "I liked this film better when it was called The Ring. Despite an intriguing start the film is a poor quality remake of the original. The poor quality remakes of Don't Breathe and The Bye Bye Man were not helpful additions either." - 2.5 Stars

KillDozer - "After weeks of dreading having to see what I knew would be a worthless addition to an old but undoubtedly influential franchise I am pleased to say that I left the theatre thinking,......this could have been so much worse. This film was held back by studio issues for 3 years and had 7 different writers involved whose past credits include House at the End of the Street, and Mean Creek so obviously the final product was going to feel all over the place. Everything from Don't Breathe to Final Destination is thrown in the mix and sadly little is seen of our beloved cursed little girl ghost Samara. I will say that some of the writers went for the gold with some ideas but unfortunately failed to follow through, leaving us stuck in territory all too familiar. Vincent Donofrio completely steals the show doing what he does best but the rest of the acting is flat and fails to help us invest in those involved. I am not mad that I paid to see this, as it was actually nostalgic and interesting to see what happens when you have too many talented directing, producing, and writing cooks in the horror kitchen." - 2 Stars (for a few good visuals, a bat shit crazy priest and the murdering ghost conspiracy that could have been)

Lord Battle - "Nightmare on Sacrament street 3: The Iphone Ignorers aka Samara on A Plane. It's been a long time since I've felt the disconnected confusion that strikes the fan of a franchise sitting through a surreal sequel experience but Rings had so much interesting stuff in the first act that never is explained, let alone mentioned again, that the second and third acts never had a chance. Fiends who are horror franchise fanatics need to check this out. Casual horror fans and peasants should skip it, Rings is not for them." - 3.5 Stars

Clark Little - "The worst thing about this film is the worst thing about any film that doesn't hit the mark- boring. The scares don't come across as silly or fun. Just boring. The plot isn't original or campy. Just boring. The characters aren't interesting or charismatic. Just boring. However, I didn't hate the ending. But it was kind of boring too." - 2 Stars

Trash - "Nostalgia is an emotion that rarely factors into my liking of a film, especially in a time where manufactured nostalgia seems to be a real cinematic commodity. Oddly, this wave of it endeared me to Rings. The Asian horror boom was peaking as I was discovering myself as a horror fan and Ringu was a mountain to climb — I was scared of it before I'd seen a single frame. Yet I do not believe I was the target audience for Rings, which plays as an update for a younger group, a pre-approved property upgraded for new kids with new tech. It seems to be paying off, as people are buying tickets for it. Overall, it's kind of a mediocre movie, but there's some really neat ideas buried in its all too familiar structure. Johnny Galecki steals it, and I think we can all agree that a better film could have been made about his character, but Rings plays it safe with the pretty mild teen girl and her 30-year-old teen boyfriend. The opening scene feels like a half-thought that could have been very cool had it been finished, and the first act will amp you up for TV ghosts. Samara crawls out of an HDTV! Sadly it drags after that, albeit to a pretty great ending, with some creative sequences sprinkled throughout. The excellent cinematography rescues it from ever getting too boring, but, hey, it's mainstream horror. Good enough!" - 3 Stars

Huntress - "Watching Rings was a little like having someone play a mystery puzzle game for you, which I can see testing people’s patience, but something about it worked for me. That’s not to say there weren’t some rough patches in the movie (the over enunciated, unnatural dialogue was the most distracting although there were other acting issues) but the story was interesting enough for that not to ruin things completely. I also really like the dynamic of the main characters; the impressionable and optimistic college student boyfriend who doesn't see the disaprity of their situation, and the bluntly realistic stay at home girlfriend who brings him back down to reality. Rings flirted with the line between almost sci-fi and just straight up mystery, but when those ghostly moments happen they don’t disappoint." -3.5 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer - "Before I tell you about one of the worst viewing experiences I’ve ever had for the Overlook, I’d like to thank Rings for helping me appreciate what a companionable and fun bunch the Overlook creatures are, because this film in any other context would have felt like a profound waste of time, but here ended up being a minor inconvenience to a really fun night.  Yes, this film is so nothing that I don’t even want to use hyperbolic adjectives and metaphors like vile, garbage, detritus, shit, lame, etc. to describe it because this is an experience so devoid of life that to give you the impression that it was even worth hating would be to give it too much credit.  And yet I hated it. I added a star to my one-star review I am calling the “Johnny Galecki star”.  His character and subplot could have been the key, the branching point in this train of hollow, silent tears of a film that could have given Rings some redemption, but instead managed to give the potent indifference this film engendered in me an amplified sense of ennui. Basically, dear readers, this is the same movie as The Ring, but without the power of potent imagery, the advantage of novelty, or the air of uncharted spiritual malice.  To be fair, the actors who were cast as protagonista and her ultimately secondary/corporeal adversary weren’t bad, but all the other characters were swallowed by an insultingly unambitious script and an overall mise en scène so flat that it brought whatever emotional “roundness” (rotundity? At least I’m trying to write something interesting, unlike the people who made this film.  zing!) these characters could have had deep into the two-dimensional plane. Everything that was held over from the original was expressed and redressed poorly and retroactively destroyed whatever power the original narrative had.  It’s no small irony that a film that is essentially about amplifying Samara’s legendary vitality in the film world has the opposite effect on Samara’s curse in our world; Rings utterly saps any power this lore had over our imaginations and dreams. Whereas Ringu and The Ring allowed us a new way to fear our television, Rings actually destroys those sweet memories by dragging the it’s legend though the muck of banality. Almost every shot and character after the main couple arrive in the provincial town was aggressively boring and the sensation of watching each scene unfold and somehow delivering less than nothing was driving me into a mad desire for it just to end, so I just kept telling myself I had to sit through it so I could fairly warn others not to support this movie with money.  If you really just need to satisfy your curiosity, just pay for another film you liked and sneak into this." - 2 Stars

(R) - Viewed the film remotely, which may have impacted the reviewer's opinion.


The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

After scrapping together the bits of parchment scribed in blood, poorly written emails, and dried flesh scribbled with crayon, one thing is painfully clear, Rings confused the hell out of my fiends. The roast king Clark Little says it's boring, The Berkeley Blazer roared about how much he hated it (which is continued below), and KillDozer dug up more than a few reasons Rings isn't a waste of unlife, yet all three creatures gave the film 2 Stars. Then the cryptic musing of Math Mage aren't so cryptic as he calls Rings a weak remake of the original with other weak remakes peppered in, yet gives the film a higher star rating of 2.5...
My original idea behind the "star" rating was to help articulate the groans and screams that came from these horrid reviewers and ultimately grant our cursed audience some structure (while classing up the dungeon a bit). I believe it has finally become clear that I'll need to summon the monsters to discuss what star ratings actually mean... I tried to do this a few years ago when the summoning circle was first written in blood (you can find that HERE). Here ends my reflection as we get back to the ferocious roars of the ranting Berkeley Blazer.

"Horror, terror, revulsion, fear, panic, pain. Horror films often are seen as some of the basest forms of entertainment available today. This critique can be justified, horror can enable us to indulge in our worst kind of curiosity, the curiosity of pain, suffering and gore. While these questions are important, for the purposes of this article let's put aside the socio-political implications of western horror and view the genre as a vehicle which we can use to explore the emotions and sensations enumerated at the beginning of the paragraph. How can horror films give insight into the terror and pain we feel in the referential world. This knot can be untangled in so many ways, but the simplest question to start with is what techniques do horror films use to create the sensation of horror? So much of the currency of horror is the buildup of tense fear, and much of this is done though the sensation of constriction. Characters move (sometimes unbearably) slowly though a long dark hallway and the camera is closely focused on them, near their head and shoulders or some other shot that doesn’t reveal much of the surrounding environment."


-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized at Century Theatres for a preview screening on 2/2/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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