Rings (2005)

ringsYou can find this online on video websites in parts, or if you’re one of my type of consumer, you likely bought this as a double DVD set with the re-release of “The Ring” (Still superior to the original), shortly put on store shelves before the release of the disastrous “The Ring 2.” For those who have yet to see it, “Rings” is only a short film that’s meant to bridge the gaps between parts one and two of the American series, but if you were one of the few to see it, you’ll know it’s ten times better than the actual feature length sequel featuring the still slumming Naomi Watts.

While some dismiss it as merely a promotional film, “Rings” actually has a great concept to it and one that warrants some searching from fans of the first film from Gore Verbinski that uses the concept of the haunted tape as a plot device for thrill seeking teenagers. True it does in some sense break the rules established by the original movies, but for what it is as a viral short film, “Rings” is infinitely better than most of the “Ring” movies, except for the remake from Verbinski. Jonathan Liebesman opens the concept up to some interpretation and room to flex some dynamic horror with it, and it works quite well, especially since the characters here are much more engrossing than those we see in the sequel.

Director Liesbesman offers up a spotlight for two very minor characters in the prologue to the sequel and this allows the talented actors Emily Van Camp and Ryan Merriman to take center stage. Merriman who played Jake in the sequel is apparently introduced to a cult of ring fans who watch the cursed tape, hold out for as many days as possible, and pass it on to someone else to carry the curse. Jake is given the tape to watch and is at first thrilled to be seeing the visions but soon discovers he’s apart of a massive trick for the cult to discover what happens after seven days.

This leaves Jake to experience the horrific terror of Samara which includes vomiting up a millipede, and confronting her through a shattered television. The short links the sequel shifting immediately to Jake who anxiously calls his classmate Emily who happens to harbor a wicked crush on him. This is supposed to link the curious events of the sequel which feature the young couple confessing their love and Jake desperately trying to convince the eager to please Emily to watch the tape for reasons we’re not aware of until we’ve seen the short film. If you’ve seen the sequel (god help you), you’ll see it doesn’t go as planned.

“Rings” however is a radical concept and one that defies the principles of the original films but in exchange for something completely new and fresh and I respect it for that. While it is just a commercial for the viral website, and a pro-prologue to the sequel, it gets points for its excellent special effects, creepy imagery, and solid acting from its respective cast including Merriman. I wouldn’t consider “Rings” to be completely and utterly necessary to understand “The Ring Two” or make it more entertaining. If you’ve seen the movie, nothing can make it entertaining. But for people who enjoy adding more spice to a wider mythos and for folks apart of the “Ring” fandom, “Rings” is a very sleek and morbid short film, and one infinitely more enjoyable and tense than the sequel could be.