Rings: Share or Die

Rings - Paramount Pictures

Rings - Paramount Pictures

By Amanda Rossenrode

I just watched the trailer for Rings, the sequel to The Ring. Don’t worry guys, I showed it to my husband afterward, so if he approaches you about watching a really awesome clip in the next seven days proceed with caution! I enjoyed The Ring when it came out, almost as much as I enjoyed calling my best friend immediately after dropping her off and whispering, “…seven days….” Ha, the 2000’s were fun. It was a quintessentially 2000’s movie, about an investigative journalist who finds a creepy video tape that kills the viewer seven days after viewing. Unless you use tape to tape recording and produce a copy to drop off at your local Blockbuster disguised as The Matrix.

The problem with making a modern sequel of The Ring is the same problem with making a horror movie based on the fact the calls are coming from inside the house. Even if using a landline, everyone has had caller ID since the late nineties and moreover, everyone has had a cell phone for more than a decade. The call could be coming from the kitchen or Idaho, but without intense GPS searches and warrants issued by law enforcement detecting pings off cell towers, the babysitter is not going to get that information before she is hachett-ed to death.

The ghost’s power in The Ring exists in the viewing of the cursed VHS tape and your only survival method is to share the video with someone else and hope (or don’t, depending on who you’re showing it to) that they figure out the solution. You would think that the death of the VCR would put a kink in the little girl’s vengeance via VHS. How does the movie solve this? Does she now feed off hipsters that claim spooky student art films look better on VHS? Garage sale hunters? Nope, they put the video online.

Now, the trailer for Rings has over a million views on YouTube. A commercial for Chicken Fries has nearly a million. I randomly typed in “dog watching football” and the first video received over 200,000 views. That’s a lot of people watching stupid videos. And that’s just on YouTube. While scrolling through your Facebook feed, it will automatically play videos of how to make chili pie out of three ingredients from Pillsbury, simply because your aunt at some point liked Pillsbury to get a dollar off coupon.  I don’t even have to click on it and it will walk me through the steps for chili pie in fifteen seconds. If the “seven days and then you die” video is online, how is it that there is anyone left in the world except my mother, who is too busy trying to get the music off her phone to actually go online? One day my mom just looks up from her phone and goes, “It sure is quiet…”

Think about it. At least one idiot who missed the whole “seven days” clause is going to post that on their Facebook with a bunch of “laughing so hard I’m crying” emoji cons. You know that guy, his name is Todd and everybody has a Todd. And nobody shares any of Todd’s stuff because Todd’s a dweeb.  You’re only friends with Todd because he’s related to your cousin’s husband and it would seem rude not to. Anyhow, Todd just killed like eighty people. Most of those people never even got the warning from the ghost because I assume her number is blocked because they don’t have Verizon in hell. No one answers blocked numbers, it’s always some scammer that got your number after you posted that exercise bike on Craigslist.

It would be a global plague of people spitting up hairballs and horses committing mass suicide, with the contagion rate up there with the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918. For the non-history buffs, there were no reports of mass-horse suicide during the time but the pandemic did create several immortal vampires, including Twilight’s Edward Cullen.  It wouldn’t just be a group of hot teens Googling a fifteen year old news story, there would be scientists and world leaders trying to figure out why Super Bowl parties were being interrupted by ghost children crawling out of flat screens and killing everyone with the exception of Todd. Impromptu cults and religions would form around Todd, seeing him as a prophet or a god, or a demon.

Would there be conditions to viewing the video? Say I had the computer on mute, as one does to combat the bombardment of Tostito ads that pop up on any given website? Would I still be subject to the rules of the video? What if I liked it rather than sharing it? Would I be immune? Or does that not count because I’m just acknowledging it rather than actively sharing it? What if I share it, but no one clicks on it? What if I stop a dinner party and force everyone to watch it on my host’s laptop but no one is paying attention because they think I’m being obnoxious and don’t deserve to be humored? Does that count?! Already I can see young Samara, crouched in her well, scratching out a lists of FAQs on the bricks, wondering if this whole mess is really worth the trouble.

Horror movies have had a bumpy track record, with surges and dips. We’ve been on a bit of a creative uptick with original films like Insidious, The Conjuring, It Follows and The Babadook in recent years. Can the sequel to the fifteen year old remake of a Japanese film find new life in a story about dead technology? We’ll see. In seven days. For me. I don’t get paid until then. You can see it sooner if you like.

In Theaters Friday, February 3, 2017