Rings review: Don’t watch the tape. No, really

Rings, the continuation of a horror franchise nobody asked for, is terrible. Not mediocre. Not bad. Not even so bad it’s good. Terrible.

Rings poster

From the start, it’s obvious that the filmmakers didn’t actually want to make a movie related to The Ring. Rings opens on a plane (you’re familiar with this if you’ve seen any trailers for the film) that’s eventually taken down by child/monster Samara because rules of this universe be damned, this movie is going to do things. The scene simultaneously nudges viewers, saying “You remember how this works, right?” and bombards them with events that are decidedly not how this is supposed to work.

The film then briefly follows Leonard from The Big Bang Theory (Johnny Galecki, obviously. I can’t remember his character’s name and it’s not worth the effort to check Wikipedia or IMDb), a biology professor who sees the video and becomes obsessed with proving the existence of souls through Samara’s tape. Why biology and not physics orBecause nothing says biology like something that is not organic matter.

He recruits students into a ridiculous experiment in which they watch the tape, deal with its week of not great stuff (which is really just facial distortion on cameras if you think about it), eventually copying the video and showing it to the next student in line. The main character’s (Matilda Lutz. Again, character names aren’t exactly memorable here) boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe. Of course I remember this one. Who the hell is named Holt? No one) gets roped up in this, eventually leading the good looking young couple to a small town which conveniently contains both the current events of Samara’s story AND plenty of elements from the story’s past.

None of this is handled in a particularly exciting way, and most of the film feels more like a paint-by-numbers pastiche of horror cliches, from its direct predecessors and from other, significantly better movies that came out in the nearly 15 years between the Hollywood remake of The Ring and Rings.

The thing is, there was actually a really cool idea here. The content of Samara’s video changed after Julia (the main character. I had to check something else) watched it. But Rings doesn’t explore the concept that the video can grow and shift as people watch it, making things slightly different for everyone who sees it. It stops there, with Julia’s video unable to be copied, bringing the one interesting idea here to an almost immediate stop.

Vincent D’Onofrio gives the film the best he can considering the absurdity of the character he plays, but the only thing that could have saved Rings would have been making an entirely different movie.

Watching Rings won’t kill you seven days later, and that’s the best thing I can say about it.

2.5/10. It’s competently shot and edited, which has to count for something.

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