The Curator of Schlock #246 by Jeff Shuster
I’ve been putting this off. 2017’s Rings from director F. Javier Gutiérrez is the movie responsible for Paramount cancelling the next installment of the Friday the 13th series of films. Apparently, Rings was supposed to be their new cash cow annual horror film series with new installments each year. Rings was a box office disappointment, so they cancelled the Friday the 13th reboot. Makes sense as they’re completely different types of movies. Kind of like when Disney cancelled TRON 3 over the disappointing box office of Tomorrowland.
Instead, we’re getting another Nutcracker movie titled The Nutcracker: We Made This Instead of TRON 3. Yay.
Rings is a sequel to 2002’s The Ring and 2005’s The Ring Two. I don’t remember much about those movies. I think Brian Cox electrocuted himself to death by dropping a plugged-in VCR into a bathtub full of water while standing in it. Ring Two featured Naomi Watts being terrorized by deer created from some really bad CG. They didn’t leave a huge impression. The basic gist of the series is that there’s this cursed video tape. You watch this video and you see all sorts of strange imagery like a woman brushing her hair in a mirror, a wooden chair, a nail going though a finger, etc. Then a phone rings, you pick up the receiver, and the voice of little girl says, “ Seven days.” In seven days, your television set will turn on and a ghost girl comes out of your TV to psychokinetically kill you. The only way to avoid the curse is to make a copy of the tape, have someone else watch it, and stick them with the curse. The only way they can avoid the ghost girl is to copy the tape and have someone else watch it. And so on.
Rings begins with an airline passenger who watched the video, but was too stupid to pass the curse on to someone else. Samara, the ghost girl, comes out of the panels up in the cockpit trying to kill the guy and the whole plane goes down as a result. Fast-forward a couple years later and said passenger’s belongings end up being sold at some sidewalk sale. A biology professor by the name of Gabriel Brown (Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory fame) purchases the VCR because he’s interested in vintage technology.
I really don’t understand VCR aficionados. They were junk then, and they’re junk now. And yes, this is coming from a guy who knew how to program his VCR. I never missed an episode of Felicity. That’s something I can be proud of.
Professor Brown hooks the VCR up to an HDTV and watches the cursed video. Then Samara calls him up, gives him the “Seven Days” pitch, and Professor Brown witnesses some strange phenomena like rain rising up instead of falling down. One has to wonder, does the curse hold the same power if your watching an old VHS tape through and HDTV or even a 4K TV? That’s going to be a downgraded image. I’m thinking this time around Samara would only have the ability to give you a really bad headache at the end of the seven days.
Professor Brown starts running experiments with the videotape by having his students watch it, copy it, and pass it along. He wants to scientifically prove the existence of life after death. That’s rather intriguing. I applaud Professor Brown and his pedagogic practices. I start to get high hopes for this motion picture, and then we’re introduced to Julia and Holt, a good-looking, but boring young couple who get involved with Professor Brown’s experiments. When Julia watches the video to save Holt from the curse, she gets new images along with the old ones.
And this is where the movie takes a left turn. Julia and Holt travel to some podunk country town to discover the origins of the curse. They run into a blind Vincent D’Onofrio who used to be a priest who murdered his daughter or his granddaughter.
I don’t know. They gave up on the only thing the movie had going for it, the science angle. I don’t care about them solving some stupid American Gothic mystery. Paramount, do us all a favor. Don’t just cancel Friday the 13th. Cancel all of your horror movies. You don’t know what you’re doing.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.
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