Rings – Review (* 1/2)

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Every bit the cynically lazy, belated reboot most were expecting, Rings exists solely to milk the wallets of people who didn’t even exist when the 2002 U.S. remake first hit screens. Despite a few vaguely interesting ideas, it’s mostly just blandly soporific slop.

A young woman (Matilda Lutz) finds herself teaming with a college professor (Johnny Galecki) to try and put a stop to the infamous ring video tape curse, where upon viewing the tape, the person has seven days to live.

You most likely know this set-up, of course, and for the most part this is basically just business as franchise-usual, while throwing in overt plot cribs from at least two acclaimed horrors from the last few years – It Follows and Don’t Breathe – for good measure.

There is definitely a semi-solid idea for a reboot here – especially if it focused on It Follows’ clever concept of the curse traveling back down the line of victims after killing the most recent one – but Rings quickly abandons promise in favour of a dull breadcrumb-following narrative pointed at the ghostly Samara’s origin story, which is unsatisfactorily re-tooled here.

Rings is a film more tedious than anything. It teases a college experiment involving the curse with shades of Flatliners but this is brushed to the wayside in favour of generic jump scares and characters who are difficult to care for (Galecki’s tragically under-utilised one aside). Lutz’s protagonist and her boyfriend character (Alex Roe) are ultimately just boring, beautiful people who have little affect or reason to be headlining this movie, especially as they feel like such a trade-down from Naomi Watts’ Rachel. At least Vincent D’Onofrio provides some hammy fun as a blind man-cum-occasional-exposition-dump later on.

Not content to derail itself with an hilariously daft final battle, the film climaxes with a stinger that anyone who’s seen the trailer more than once will anticipate, because it’s actually given away in the trailer, and in addition a certain revelation, intended to be a plot twist, is given away in the very same trailer (yet is curiously spoken at the end of the movie by a different character). It’s not difficult to believe that last summer’s re-shoots may have re-shaped the movie significantly owing to these changes.

Rings is relatively fine to look at, but aside from Galecki and D’Onofrio, the performances are as bland as the script is lazy. It throws several good ideas out the window early on and favours the path most traveled instead. And worst of all, with its already evident box office success, there’s an entire generation of youngsters to whom this will be “their” Ring.

* 1/2

Rings is in cinemas now


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