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09 Feb 2017

Stupid Sequel: 'Rings' Is a Boring Slog That Could Seriously Damage a Career or Two

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Johnny Galecki and Matilda Lutz in Rings. Johnny Galecki and Matilda Lutz in Rings.

After seeing Ouija: Origin of Evil last year, and being blown away by the horror sequel (which was far superior to its awful predecessor), I had newborn faith in the ability of horror sequels to entertain me when I traipsed into my local cinema to see Rings.

For those of you getting your American remakes of Japanese horror classics mixed up: The Ring (remake of Ringu) back in 2002 was the one with the scary, contorted girl in a well, plus Naomi Watts. A quick scan of this sequel’s cast reveals Vincent D’Onofrio has a role in it. That’s good, right? It also has Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory. Not too shabby if you like unfunny, overrated TV shows, right?

So … there’s enough to think the film, directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez, has a fighting chance of being reasonably good. Then, the movie starts, and that fighting chance is knocked out quicker than Ronda Rousey in her last two bouts: Rings is a slog from the get-go, a poorly conceived follow-up to what was a decent American remake of a great J-horror film. (For the purposes of this review, let’s just skip the American The Ring Two, shall we?)

Italian-born actress Matilda Lutz plays Julia. She’s the bright-eyed girlfriend to college-student Holt (Alex Roe). They’re conducting a Skype relationship, and during one of their talks, Holt mentions a super-cool teacher (Galecki), and gets interrupted by two fellow students forcing him to attend some sort of club meeting.

That club turns out to be a social gathering arranged by Gabriel (Galecki), who recently purchased a mysterious videotape. He watched said videotape, and somehow figured out he was going to die in seven days due to the viewing. (After watching this movie, I felt like I would die in about four days, due to the film corroding by liver, pancreas and sense of self. Don’t worry; I’m countering these effects with lots of vegetables, salmon and life-assuring walks with my dog.)

Anyway, Gabriel figures out that if you make somebody else watch the tape, the curse passes to them, and so on, and so on. So a bunch of college kids are having a grand old time with his experiment, like some sort of chess club, passing on the curse and gathering to talk about it. Sometimes, they use computers and mobile phones to watch the tape, effectively taking the whole franchise into “the now.” It’s so hip, it’s scary!

Rings doesn’t stop there. In addition to the story of Samara, the girl in the well who will kill you in a week if you watch her shitty art film, there’s this whole thing involving Julia and her quest to free Samara, which leads her to the origins of Samara’s mom and an old house featuring a creepy, blind dude (D’Onofrio). This will all lead to a finale scene that rips off both Don’t Breathe and The Silence of the Lambs (with fluttering moths replaced by buzzing cicadas).

This finale delivers a near-deathblow to D’Onofrio’s career. A good tourniquet might prevent him from bleeding out and save his career long enough until the next blow, which looks to be the upcoming remake of Death Wish co-starring Bruce Willis.

The movie was shot around three years ago, and experienced various delays. Coming soon: another long delayed horror sequel, Amityville: The Awakening, which has also been bouncing around for three years. Oh, lucky day!

I wonder if Naomi Watts, original star of The Ring, was shown a script for Rings and asked to participate. I also wonder if that distant sound I hear when I go to bed at night—mixed with the constant buzzing of cicadas—is the sound of a defiant Watts laughing uproariously.

Rings is playing at theaters across the valley.

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