‘Rings’: First You Watch It. Then You Die of Boredom.

GameStop, Inc.

Rings

The Ring was a clever horror conceit that had a nightmarish take on viral videos well before they became an everyday part of life – someone watches the cursed VHS tape and seven days later they die a horrible death. The success of the film, a remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu, briefly sparked a Hollywood fascination with remaking successful Japanese horror films. After one sequel, it seemed that the Japanese horror craze that swept up Hollywood was gone, and The Ring would be the rare horror franchise that ceased after two films. The spirit of the demon child Samara lay dormant for a decade only to be revived in Rings, the long-delayed horror sequel from director F. Javier Gutiérrez. Upon seeing Rings it is painfully obvious why this film sat on the shelf for nearly two years, as it just has nothing going for it. Rings is a failed attempt to expand the mythology of the series but explains too much while providing too few frights in a sequel that is equal parts boring and unnecessary.

The most interesting scene in Rings is the opening scene which has basically nothing to do with the film’s central story. A man on an airplane leans across the aisle and begins talking to a woman, informing her that he’s seen the video that will kill you in seven days. Before the plane can start its descent, strange things start happening and the cursed video plays on each of the personal TV sets before the plane crashes. You’d think this might be a set up for a tale where the video that will kill you would find its way on the internet, spreading out of control and racking up a massive body count. You’d be dead wrong, buster.

Instead the screenplay by David Loucka, Jacob Estes, and Akiva Goldsman (from a story by Loucka and Estes) picks up two years after the plane crash where college professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) is purchasing a used VCR because apparently he has some affinity for inferior audio-visual equipment. Trapped within the old machine is cursed tape which he watches – cut to: teen lovers, Julia (Matilda Lutz) and Holt (Alex Roe), as the young man is about to leave for college. The construction of these opening scenes is bewildering and it takes a while for the film to allow the viewer some sense of the story’s timeline. Six weeks later, Julia is having trouble keeping in touch with Holt over Skype and a bizarre message from some random girl sparks Julia to travel to his college in search of answers. What she stumbles upon is a study of the cursed tape overseen by Gabriel, who has students pass the curse down over and over in order to assuage the horrific conclusion. Why does he devise such a ghastly form of academic enterprise? He wants to prove that humans have a soul or something. Like much of the movie, why people do anything makes little to no sense.

The young woman who was supposed to take Holt’s place in line is taken by the evil spirit of the slain child Samara, meaning that Julia’s lover is quickly approaching death. In a selfless action, Julia watches the video to save her boyfriend, only this time the video has changed and thus all of the established rules have changed. So Julia and Holt travel to the small town where Samara was born in the hopes of finding her remains and putting the curse to rest forever. They encounter a blind man, Burke (Vincent D’Onofrio), who tends to the cemetery and gives them cryptic warnings as to the visions that are guiding Julia. A number of unsurprising events occur before everything is wrapped up with an open ending that hints at a sequel that will never see the light of day.

It can’t be overstated just how inept Rings is. There’s no tension. There’s no suspense. Hell, this movie can’t even pull off simple jump scares. F. Javier Gutiérrez just seems out of his element with the material and can’t build any moments that are the least bit scary. Even when it tries to escalate the spookiness, it’s just a total mess of visual language that is more bewildering than frightening. More than anything, Rings is just a painful slog to sit through, a film that is much more capable of making your eyes heavy than making your skin crawl.

There was simply no reason that a script this underwhelming should’ve been produced in the first place. All of the characters are broad archetypes with no distinctive characteristics or personalities. If you’ve seen at least three horror movies in your life it won’t be hard to figure out what’s going to happen in the very next scene. Worst of all, the film hints at more interesting possibilities in a few regards and never follows through on them in the slightest. How technology could be employed to spread the video or a professor using his students as pawns to facilitate his study of evil are far more interesting possibilities than the half-assed rehash of the first film this unnecessary sequel strives for.

Rings is just a dreadful movie in every sense. It fails at everything it attempts and is simply a bore to experience. There’s just nothing interesting in this movie and it doesn’t even deliver the basest thrills that fans of horror would want. Rings has a sparse body count but plenty of padding to ensure that you will be driven to suicide to escape the tedium. It may take seven days for Samara to haunt her victims before taking their lives, but it only takes Rings a matter of minutes before you’re pleading to be put out of your misery.

Rings
  • Overall Score
1

Summary

A deathly dull and unnecessary sequel, Rings is just an inept cinematic experience in every possible sense. There are few frights in this woeful horror film, but there’s no shortage of boredom.

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