After telemarketers get fired by their miserly boss (played by Lou Ferrigno, who also produced the film), they take revenge by stealing the company’s customer list to start their own service in Adam Marino’s Ring Ring. Will (Malcolm Goodwin) is celebrating his bright new future in cold calls. He hooks up with a woman he meets at the bar on Halloween night and loses his phone (where the stolen client list is stored) somewhere along the way. Co-conspirator Amber (Kirby Bliss Blanton) helps him find it using an online tracking tool and they break into the house where it is. They wind up locked in the basement of a cross-dressing drug addict.
Comedy/thriller/horror is a tricky juggling act, and to his credit, Marino very nearly pulls it off. However, like dining at a strip club salad bar, it combines some things that maybe don’t really go together. That said, this film has an audience and needs to find it.
“He hooks up with a woman…and loses the company phone somewhere along the way…”
This film plays somewhat like Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, blurring the roles of protagonist/villain. While main characters in horror films are often flawed, this seems to be a trend in other genres lately, where none of the characters is particularly “good” in a traditional way, nor are they completely unsympathetic. In Ring Ring this dynamic whipsaws from one character to the next in a fairly interesting way. The cross-dressing, crack-smoking ride-share driver, Jacob, is a sane person in an insane situation. He is presented as the villain of the piece, mostly, but it’s not that simple. Will and Amber are very much products of social media and our culture in general. They work at a place that forces advertising on people who don’t want to be bothered. They have no moral center, and yet, they are the ones considered normal in this context, our “victims.”
Breaking Bad fans might feel a little twinge of nostalgia with Jacob. He is essentially Jesse Pinkman—if Pinkman was constantly in a coke induced fever dream, psychopathically enraged, and incredibly paranoid. Jacob’s childlike innocence is both frightening and pathetic. If Bill and Ted were junkies, they’d be this clueless and frustrated.
I always love seeing Lou Ferrigno. There are some fan-service gags from his most famous role that are amusing. However, I wonder if the target audience demographic will ever have seen that show?
“…gets a lot of things right, a few things wrong, and a couple of things deeply weird…”
The film is very busy, could have benefited from focusing on a few core elements instead of frenetically touching on so many. The ultimate plot setup takes 35 minutes of the 74-minute run- time. This might have worked better as three or four television episodes instead of a feature film.
One choice that is noteworthy and very positive about the Will character: he’s African-American, and that fact is never mentioned by either the filmmaker or the characters. I was waiting for that Get Out shoe to drop, and it never did. There’s a lot of good thinking behind the film. It sucks that we need to point this out. Ring Ring gets that right.
In fact, the film gets a lot of things right, a few things wrong, and a couple of things deeply weird, which is not a bad mix for a thriller horror-comedy.