Directed by: F. Javier Gutiérrez
The Ring franchise has been lying dormant for some time in the US market, likely discouraged by the poor performance of The Ring Two upon its release over a decade prior. After the revival of the film series in Japan, with the recent release of Sadako Vs Kayako, a third film in the American series was rescued from development hell and unleashed onto the world – but was it worth the effort?
Rings tells the story of Julia, a teenage girl whose relationship with her boyfriend Holt begins to crumble once he moves away to college. After a cryptic comment about doing an extra credit assignment for his professor, he disappears and refuses to answer her calls for several days. After receiving an unnerving message from a stranger regarding Holt, Julia travels to his school find him, and in doing so, uncovers much more than she expected.
There reaches a point in many horror franchises where the people involved in making the movies just stop caring entirely. This is kind of the great equalizer between long-running horror series, there are always some terrible entries in the later parts of the series, no matter how strong the early entries are. Some of them stop caring relatively early on (A Nightmare on Elm St. 2: Freddy’s Revenge, a personal favorite film of mine), and some of them take a little longer to sputter out.
The Tomie films – a Japanese film series based on Junji Ito’s dark and disturbing manga – have been arguably a mixed bag right from the start, but the series managed to persevere and put out quite a few entries. I’m not sure what the consensus is on when the films stopped trying to scare anyone or take themselves seriously, but I do know this: by the time they reached Tomie: Unlimited, they were entirely out of fucks to give.
Tomie: Unlimited follows Tsukiko, a teenage girl who is traumatized after watching her sister, Tomie, die in a freak accident. Her family greatly mourns her sister’s loss, and she tries to cope with what happened to her. However, things take a strange turn when someone turns up at the door later on claiming to be her dead sister, entirely changing the balance of their home, and giving Tsukiko’s life a turn for the worse.
Cube is a little bit of a guilty pleasure movie of mine. It’s a fun, if deeply flawed, film that utilizes two rather interesting concepts: survival horror, and a sort of take on a “bottle episode” (minimal use of sets, and minimal cast, used to semi claustrophobic effect). It had a sense of creativity that its sparse narrative required, and was inventive with the way it killed its characters – while preceding the torture porn genre by several years.
However, it also suffered from a major lack of character development, most of its characters falling into mostly archetypal roles, with predictable arcs. My hope when going into watching Hypercube, the sequel film, is that it would recognize the strengths and flaws in the first film, and seek to improve on them. In this regard, Hypercube ended up being a big disappointment for me.
Collaboration is an interesting thing, especially in writing. Best case scenario, you end up tapping into the best aspects of each author – the prime example of this being Good Omens, a personal favorite of mine. In other cases, you end up with a muddled mess of ideas. Dark Duets is an anthology of dark fantasy and horror that focuses primarily on this concept – each story in it was penned by at least two contributors.
Unfortunately, in this case, I feel there was more of the latter than the former. The collection isn’t bad, per se, but it is underwhelming. It’s just there. I never once felt compelled to pick it up and read, even with the consistent promise of a new tale.