★ / ★★★★
For a movie written by three people, “Rings” is staggeringly idiotic. It seems as if David Loucka, Jacob Aaron Estes, and Akiva Goldsman did not have any original idea lodged in their brains somewhere and so they settled with providing the viewers one cliché after another, hoping that the years between this and the last “Ring” picture were enough to forgive or overlook such bottom-of-the-barrel dross. We deserve better than this. I urge everybody to stay far away from this picture because it is bad on the level of brain cell extermination.
The first act exhibits a glimmer of promise because it signals the plot taking place, for the most part, in a college setting in modern times. If the writers had an iota of inspiration, they would have focused on how young adults consume media nowadays and how easy it is to fall into accidentally seeing an image or video that we otherwise wouldn’t dare to view on purpose. This would have been an interesting next step for the franchise, about a videotape that goes around where, if seen, the viewer receives a phone call and is informed by a supernatural whisper on the other line that he or she has only seven days to live.
The lead protagonists (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe) are deadly dull. They have nothing interesting to say or do and so I found myself wishing the ghostly Samara would finally get them—perhaps then the plot would focus on other characters instead. I imagined Lutz and Roe were only in it for the money because even they seemed bored with what they had to work with. For instance, in a would-be revelatory sequence that takes place underneath a church, Lutz’ facial expression remains the same between shrieks and gasps. How far have we come from the 2002 American version where Naomi Watts, who convincing plays an increasingly desperate mother, visits a creepy, foggy island to investigate Samara’s origins.
No effort is made to elevate the atmosphere, a sense of dread, or, at the very least, tension. Observe the first scene that unfolds on a plane. Notice how the dialogue does not bother with carefully constructed pauses, how the camera is afraid to utilize tight and extended closeups, and how loud it becomes so quickly, special and visual effects immediately at the forefront without any sort of timing and escalation. Standout horror pictures are helmed by filmmakers who understand the critical nature of timing. Director F. Javier Gutiérrez shows no understanding of it. It appears that his idea of horror is merely showing creepy insects, hallucinations, sudden booming of the score.
To say that “Rings” is a misfire is to be too kind. I believe that the filmmakers didn’t even have a target, no bar actually set for themselves to meet or overcome. I believe that the picture is made simply to make money, to steal from fans of the series through nostalgia. I’m disgusted by movies like this and I wish that those involved would take the time to dig deep and reevaluate their careers so that they wouldn’t waste any of more their time—and ours.