After the cinematographic disaster that was The Darkness I decided to take a look at the director, producers, and cinematographer of Rings to see if maybe my beloved franchise might be in for something delightfully unexpected.
Basically, no. It’s probably going to be awful.
I’ve never written about The Ring (2002) here, but it is one of my all time favorite horror movies. When I stumbled across a reference to Rings this evening, I was conflicted.
The Ring succeeded in a large part because of its gorgeous scenery, its investigation-style plot, and its wonderful score. It’s sequel didn’t seem like it was going to have any of those things, so I skipped it, and it seems like I was mostly right. In any event, The Ring Two (2005) has a 5.4/10 on IMDb, versus The Ring’s 7.1/10.
So, learning that there is going to be a third movie, after all these years, worried me more than anything. I’m worried that it will receive similar treatment to The Grudge 3, which simply diluted its original material and was generally a boring slog. (As a side note, I actually thought The Grudge 2 was a great film, far scarier than the first one, and actually one of the scariest films I saw before adulthood.)
The warning signs began with the name. The film apparently has had its title changed a couple of times, which is not that unusual, as working titles get adjusted all the time, but what the working titles were can tell a lot about the intentions of a film. The working title for Rings was The Ring 3D. Ugh. Enough said.
But the biggest worry is that the people making the movie seem to have basically no experience with this type of movie (or even at all). Sometimes you get a lucky break when no-name directors and producers take the stage, but usually you don’t–all you get is a shitty movie that cost next to nothing to make.
When evaluating a movie by examining its creators, I’m most concerned with the director, the cinematographer, perhaps an art director, and the sound/music director (this last one is really important because the haunting but rich violin sequences were what made the original work). Here’s what I found.
Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez. He’s done next to nothing. His only feature length director credit is for Before the Fall (2008), though he has two short films from 2002. Before the Fall looks mildly interesting, and the trailer looks like it might have an indie artsy-ness to it, which is encouraging, but it’s got a 6.2/10 on IMDb. Basically, I’m worried that Gutiérrez is going to handle his lack of horror experience by relying on tropes and jump scares because “that’s what a horror movie is, right?”
Cinematographer: Sharone Meir. Meir has actually done quite a bit of work in the horror genre. I’d actually say this choice is the strong mark in favor of the film. He worked on The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008), The Last House on the Left (2009), and Pay the Ghost (2015).
Molly Hartley was an enjoyable film, some jump scares, but the cinematography was fine. I didn’t see the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left, but it has a 6.6/10 on IMDb. Pay the Ghost slipped completely past my notice, and it starred Nick Cage, so I’m going to posit that the movie probably wasn’t good. It has a 5.2 on IMDb.
Meir had full cinematographer credits on all three films, so it’s fair to say that he is an experienced horror cinematographer (and he certainly has a ton of non-horror credits), and I repeat my judgment that he’s perhaps the only bright spot I see on the production crew.
Art Director: Naaman Marshall. Marshall worked on some big name films, including Art Director credit on The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). He’s certainly worked on high-profile movies before, but he’s never done a horror film. I’m not sure what to make of this one. His work on Nightcrawler (2014) looks promising.
Music: Kevin McKeever. He has a lot of minor credits from the early 2000’s as “additional” x/y/z. Of the work since then that he has standalone “Music Editor” credit for, most of it is documentaries. He does have full Music Editor credit for Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), and that actually worries me. Rings would not benefit from a Michael Bay-style action soundtrack, and there is absolutely nothing on his credit list that convinces me that McKeever is likely to pull off an eerie atmospheric soundtrack.
My overall feeling is that we’re not going to be left with a cinematographic nightmare, but I don’t think we’re going to end up with a good horror movie either. I certainly don’t think this will be a worthy successor to The Ring.