Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Everyone old enough to remember watching The Ring has a story about receiving a phone call either during the Film or immediately afterwards. It was scary, creepy, dreadful, atmospheric, and left a lasting impression on audiences. It even started the ill-conceived wave of Americanized J-Horror remakes that only stopped in recent years. The Film had a less successful sequel released in 2005, and now 12 years and four release dates later, we have the third installment of the series: Rings.
Julia (Matilda Lutz) fears the worst after losing contact with her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe). She goes to visit him at his new university and discovers that he has become part of an experiment involving a video that kills the viewer seven days later. Julia watches the video to save Holt, and discovers a secret portion no one has ever seen before – setting the pair off to investigate the source before she dies seven days later.
Looking past Rings’ incessant need to revise the mythology set in the previous Films – not to mention changing the story’s and villain Samara’s (Bonnie Morgan) rules on the fly – the Film’s greater problem is how boring and uninteresting it is. The story seems cobbled together, stringing along three or four harshly designed ideas (including the clever ending) that each could have been fleshed out into a much stronger film. Any one moment of intrigue or vague depth gets forgotten mere moments later in favour of inane exposition. The Film’s release date changes suggest multiple re-shoots took place, which is amplified by how choppy some scenes quickly become (the two-handed opening especially). Even worse, the Film cribs from other Films recklessly – going so far as to add a scene that is practically shot-for-shot out of a successful Horror Film from last summer.
The Ring did not become well known for its acting or dialogue, and Rings makes no attempt to change that thinking. Lutz is saddled with some of the worst horror dialogue I have heard in years, but she remains committed to the material from beginning to end, no matter the challenge thrown in front of her. I was hoping for more from The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki, but his lack of inflection is more terrifying than the Film’s few jump scares. Who really surprised me was Vincent D’Onofrio, who plays his mysterious character Burke in an understated and effective way. His work in last year’s Magnificent Seven remake bordered on ludicrous parody, but you would never guess the characters were played by the same actor based on how solid he is here.
Rings is a disappointing Film, no matter what expectations you have before watching it. It has very few scares and is bogged down by a completely uninteresting story content to run in multiple directions at once. It has some fun and inventive ideas buried under the surface that I wish could have been explored much more in-depth. If they choose to reboot the series again, I can only hope they re-use some of them.
Paramount Pictures Canada release RINGS on Friday, February 3, 2017.