The Ring franchise started with a bang, except it seems like the gun was pointed the wrong way because the second and now third entries in this franchise are just cinematic embarrassments of studios trying to milk every last penny from a good idea. The reason why Paranormal Activity and Saw were able to sustain rather longer than necessary franchises were that their horror movies were based on a gimmick. One was told via security cam footage, the other put the characters through endless rounds of the worst party games ever. The first movie, The Ring though was an extremely well made film from Gore Verbinski who adapted it from the original Japanese film Ringu. No gimmicks. The story was great, it was full of atmosphere and tension, it was a deep dark mystery slowly being revealed, and it had a brilliant score from Hans Zimmer.
Then it seems like everyone forgot about the story, only remembered the “You’ll die in 7 days” part, and went to town ruining a good thing. Hans departed the series along with Gore, and poor unfortunate souls Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman adapted Hans’ score for The Ring Two. Benjamin Wallfisch was scheduled to take over for Rings, but due to some scheduling conflicts and the fact that this film was delayed over and over again, the responsibility fell on Matthew Margeson to continue the Rings legacy.
The good thing about Matt Margetson’s Rings is that this actually feels like an evolution from Hans Zimmer’s score. The Ring Two was more or less an adaptation that left everything feeling out of place or just watered down. Margeson does his absolute best to keep this train from derailing at every moment, but a composer can only do so much. Instead of relying heavily on Hans’ thematic materials he expands the score into a darker more modern version that embraces that the days of VHS tapes are gone. The score loses the deep foreboding nature of Hans’ score and opts for an approach that makes the music feel a bit more nimble. Margeson puts his string section and cellos to work throughout the score to get some chilling sounds, but unfortunately it’s never enough to save this movie from crashing and burning. The score just walks you through the plot without any of the emotion or tragic undertones that the first film was able to evoke. As good as Matthew Margeson is as a composer, it's hard to craft a musical narrative when the picture narrative is as weak as this film is.
Rings is only worth experiencing for Matthew Margeson’s rather decent attempt at making this mess of a film work. The score is an admirable attempt at branching into different areas with Hans’ themes from the first film versus the The Ring Two which felt more of an adaptation score. No matter how you look at it, this is a score to a terrible movie. But the finished product shows that Matthew Margeson made the best of his opportunity to try and do something different with the music. The score is worth exploring for sure, just skip the flick.
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