While I admittedly am not a fan of the horror genre as a whole, The Ring was a movie I found enjoyment out of. Unlike the horror films that have graced the silver screen since Gore Verbinski’s creepy effort 15 years ago, The Ring was genuinely original. The genre has devolved to cliched story telling and cheap jump scares. There are exceptions as always. Last year saw the release of unique horror films like Don’t Breathe and the surprisingly solid Ouija: Origin of Evil. Yet, not a shred of the quality from those movies has carried over into Rings. It’s the sequel you never wanted, but Hollywood has brought it to us anyway. It’s silly, non-sensical and flat out dreadful.
Rings was originally scheduled for a November 13, 2015 bow in theaters. The film was then ultimately pushed back twice to April 2016 and again to October 2016. Now it has finally hit theaters. And, it was not worth the wait. Like any January or February horror release, Rings is cheap and predictable. We weave through every played out genre trope and jump scare just to get to the next one. Every non-sensible story beat is hit with increasingly poor execution. It’s not as if it wasn’t expected.
The story follows Julia (Matilda Lutz) and her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) and their quest to discover the truth behind the videotape that makes anyone who watches it die in seven days. When Holt mysteriously goes missing, Julia sets out to find him. She not only realizes Holt has watched the tape, but that his biology professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) is also intent on discovering the secret behind it. Galecki is horribly useless other than to give the movies two dull leads direction. The plot is advanced by super convenient moments. It just so happens that right as trouble is brewing, Gabriel conveniently has every piece of research on the tape stashed in his car as Julia and Holt furiously peel out to unravel the story.
Right from the get go the movie attempts to establish some semblance of tension. What follows is nearly two hours of our lifeless actors going through the motions in every scene. World building is not director F. Javier Gutierrez’s strength. The film attempts to create a rich mythology around the tape. Yet, the end result is an uninspired film that tries to build on mythology that we neither care about nor want to expand on. Rings painfully slogs through its overlong runtime with little to no action to keep the viewer interested or any sort of attention to detail. We are guided through murky cemeteries and dark church corridors by the hand of Gutierrez’s hackneyed direction.
Like any cliched horror picture, Rings is chalked to the brim with cringeworthy dialouge. Some of it, I truly can’t believe was written for a modern day film. Galecki’s lines in particular are atrocious. His dialogue is written in an attempt to connect deeper ideas, notably primitive cultures, to the significance behind a tape that kills. Yes, you heard right, the screenwriters thought they were being clever by trying to tie the tape to primitive cultures.
Rings is proof that if any Hollywood film was successful in the last 15 years, it will get a sequel. We will continue to get these cheap horror movies and people will continue to go see them. I’m not blind to the appeal of them. They make for good entertainment for teens who like a good scare on a first date. But anyone looking for something with a little more substance will have to look elsewhere. Smart horror films are few and far between today. Rings leaves little to desire for true horror fans or fans of the original film. Its constant changing release date was probably the proof in the pudding that this franchise should have been left alone.