Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Screenplay: David Loucka, Jacob Aaron Estes, Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden, Bonnie Morgan, Vincent D'Onofrio
Runtime: 102 Minutes
For all the genuinely great quality work that has been emerging from the horror genre over the past decade from independent sources, the mainstream plug for highly formulaic scares hasn’t ceased. Though the likes of James Wan have found a way of breaking down the pieces into workable if ordinarily structured building blocks of timed jumps and creepy images, there are those that simply keep coming back regardless of deteriorating quality and interest. So alongside this year’s return of the Saw franchise, Rings as found itself slopped into the dead post-seasonal box-office months as a dead on arrival third entry to the American remake series.
What’s worse than the film being generally bad is the fact that it’s a tricky task to review something that is so wretchedly forgettable that large swaths of the plot seem to disappear from memory the second it finishes. Taking a modern approach to the VHS model of the storyline given that it is now a dead format, the efforts to make the ghostly contortionist Samara (Bonnie Morgan) scary again are limited to a few single new visual moments in which she crawls out of a flat HD television dethatched from the wall, or in a digitised format is able to spread more freely through the internet.
The rest is business as usual as the film opts for yet another look into the further unexplored back-story of the tape and its makers via reckoning or ignoring previously established events in order to add a new storyline involving possession and yet another unseen tape. It’s so confused about its identity that it comes across as neither a reboot or sequel or otherwise, and just a thing that now exists following the tropes of the series without consequence.
The cast all look bored as hell and despite a turn from Vincent D'Onofrio (who seems to be repeating his role from Sinister) that borders on watchable there is nothing to keep the audience engaged with the new young cast or the unfolding mystery. F. Javier Gutiérrez’s direction doesn’t help at all as the staging feels contained and inanimate, and all the crosscuts and gross single frame shots it throws the audience at times can neither raise any tension or fear from its execution, even with some good-looking photography going on.
It’s with good reason that Paramount has been pushing the release of this bomb back from well over a year since its initial release date, there was simply nowhere else to put it that would make it stand out or turn a profit against other horror movies that would clearly make a killing were this the only competition it was facing. Though Samara has continued to flourish in Japanese cinema with feature after feature, Rings will make you wish that she never reaches western shores ever again.