Review - 'Rings'
Apart from having nothing new to add to the franchise, Rings is also one of the worst films I've seen in recent memory. I'm honestly struggling to think of something more insultingly bland and mindlessly stupid than this film.
Rings follows Julia (Matilda Lutz) who's boyfriend, Holt (Alex Roe) has gone off to college and mysteriously vanished. She goes searching for him after a girl named Skye (Aimee Teegarden) calls her on his Skype account looking distressed and frantically asking if she knows where he is. Upon discovering that Holt is going to be the victim of some evil entity unless someone watches a copied version of the video he watched, Julia watches it while he is unaware. Now the entity known as Samara has her sights on Julia, but this time she wants more than just to kill her.
That hurt my brain to write...
A brief backstory on where I stand with this franchise; I have not seen the Japanese original, Ringu, though I plan on getting around to it at some point. The American remake by Gore Verbinski haunted my nightmares as a young teen and upon a recent re-watch, I found that it isn't quite as scary as I remembered, but is still sufficiently creepy and is crafted with a caring hand. The Ring 2 was a big step down, but not what I would define as awful. All of that said; I would have taken a movie half as good as The Ring 2 over this poor excuse for a film.
The only horrifying thing about Rings is how dreadfully terrible it is. The plotting in this movie would be laughably bad if it weren't already so boring. Getting through this film is a slog, mainly because I never once questioned where it was going. I audibly groaned whenever the story tried to throw me off of its scent with some kind of goofy, nonsensical plot twist. Rings already has a ridiculous concept to begin with and they somehow make it even more implausible here. At least when Gore Verbinski directed the first Ring film, he took it seriously and conveyed it to the audience in a way that seemed believable and creepy. F. Javier Gutierrez's Rings has no interest in convincing you that any of what's going on is actually real, it just hopes you go along with it based off of the good will earned from the original.
I'm going to give something away, but only because I don't think anyone should ever under any circumstances watch this film. If you really think you still might enjoy this and don't want to be spoiled, just scroll passed the paragraph following this one.
Here goes: When Julia receives a call after watching the creepy video, it tells her "seven days", then her hand is burned by the phone, which subsequently leaves a nasty scar. It turns out that the scar is actually a message in braille, and this revelation is revealed when a blind priest grabs her hand, and just happens to accidentally read her braille-inscribed scar. The message says "rebirth". Why would Samara care to write this in braille on her victim's hand?! It's such a bad plot device on so many levels that I can't even comprehend how they conceived it.
Apart from having some of the most illogical plot machinations I've ever seen, Rings also doesn't know how to be scary at all. Of course when the premise of your horror movie is so unbelievable that it's funny, any possible scares that could have been in store are nullified. Every time Samara actually does show up, it's always after we've been jump-scared seemingly dozens of times by friends sneaking up behind our protagonist and touching her shoulder, which is a trope that needs to burn in the fires of a thousand Hells. There is also zero suspense as the film has no idea how to build up a situation that seems in any way threatening, nor does it know how to maintain any sort of meaningful tension.
The actors in Rings are also bland and under-written. Matilda Lutz, who plays Julia is the definition of a cookie-cutter protagonist. There is nothing remotely interesting about her and her only role is to look confused and scared. Alex Roe, who plays her boyfriend Holt, acts exactly like what you would imagine an Abercrombie model would act like if he accidentally stumbled onto the set of a horror movie. Johnny Galecki almost adds a little something interesting to the film by playing a slightly villainous college professor, but misses the mark as he devolves into an exposition conduit to our protagonists. Finally we have Vincent D'Onofrio, and I guess this was the filmmakers' attempt at classing up the joint. I'll say it was nice to see him, but he was definitely hamming it up here, and not in an entertaining way.
Are there any positives to speak of? Not really. There's an interesting sequence where Galecki approaches a window during a rainy night only to realize that the rain is rising upwards, then the lighting flashes and you can see the well from the video. Samara crawling from a screen that is face-down on the ground is kind of cool for a second. Finally, the camera-work here is passable in the sense that the guy knew how to shoot what was in front of him, so there's that.
Rings is one of the poorest excuses for a sequel. There's nothing original about it, the characters are bland and none of it comes close to making any kind of sense. Nobody should see this film, not even the most die-hard of fans.