Twelve years have passed since we last caught a glimpse of the waterlogged Samara clambering out of the well; twelve years. I want you to remember that because evidently the makers of Rings, the newest installment in the series forgot. They forgot that the origin of their vengeful specter has already been told and the supposed rules of Samara's curse need maybe a refresher at most. Yet given the fact this film simultaneously ups stakes and downplays expectations I have to ask, what are we supposed to be looking at: a reboot? A sequel? A spin off? I can't honestly tell you what we're supposed to be watching, but what it looks like is a really s***ty horror movie – one that plum forgot to bring the scary. Jump scares abound in this movie and if that's all it takes to jolt you out of your seat then watch out for the loud claps of car doors closing and umbrellas bursting open. Otherwise the second scariest thing about this movie is it makes an entire rural Georgia town look like the McPoyles from It's Always Sunny (2005-Present).
After an absurd opening hook provided by the single worst in-flight movie ever, the film begins with a young teenage couple inexplicably agog about the legend of Orpheus. Male Meatbag #1 (Roe) is headed off to college leaving Female Meatbag #1 (Ingrid Lutz) to wait for the inevitable turkey drop back in their hometown. The film insinuates she's taking care of a sick family member but we never see them and the plot thread drops as soon as Male Meatbag #1 stops answering his phone. Female Meatbag #1 becomes upset and makes her way to the guy's college where we meet (or rather re-meet) Male Meatbag #2 (Galecki). #2 is a biology professor who in addition to barely teaching classes also somehow managed to start an experimental death cult to protect himself from the cursed tape he recently found. Male Meatbag #1 is involved; Female Meatbag #1 sees the video, Female Meatbag #2 (Teegarden) dies and we all go on a glorious adventure to stop our flat screens from attacking.
The main problem that every film in the Ring Series (2002-Present) has to try to overcome is finding a second act that matters. The concept all but requires the main source of fright and threat to bookend a narrative dead zone whereby victims anxiously await their fates. The Ring (2002) accomplished this with an engaging mystery. The characters were given a clear time clock, elevated stakes and clues within the cursed video to give the audience something to play with.
Rings attempts the same thing, but since the audience should have some context (again it's been twelve years), we're all just twiddling our thumbs waiting for the characters to catch up. The mystery is a slightly different take on the curse (it's also a slightly different video), but it hardly justifies this airless, soulless cash grab. Especially since the Gothic atmosphere of the first is completely absent and all we're left with to mull on is a late appearance by Vincent D'Onofrio.
For what it's worth, supporting players Vincent D'Onofrio and Johnny Galecki outshine the leads in this insipid film like rusted tin cans in a rubbish tip. They're not by any means good, but they wisely play to their strengths unlike Ingrid Lutz who looks like she's about to burst a blood vessel trying to fake an American accent. Of course in comparison to Roe, she actually looks like she's trying to sell her role. Roe ambles onto the screen like a last place relay racer who suddenly decided "I just don't give a f*** anymore." This film is a redundant farce lacking any of the inspiration that made the first American remake not just good but a J-horror trendsetter. The chills and thrills are non-existent and story can't help but flounder in a sea of inattention and indecision. What is Rings supposed to be? I honestly think it might just be a bad joke twelve years in the making.