Director: F. Javier Gutierrez
Stars: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki
Duration: 107 mins
Class: 15
KRS Releasing Ltd

Rings is the latest instalment in the Ring franchise, which originated as a 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki about a reporter who investigates a cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it after a week.

The acclaimed 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu was based on the novel, and a US remake, The Ring, was released in 2002 – itself very well-received and considered one of the best horror films in recent history. This in turn spawned The Ring Two in 2005, which was met with less critical enthusiasm… And then there were three.

In a nutshell, the franchise’s premise is based on the idea that someone watches a videotape, the phone rings, and seven days later, they’re dead. The stories have centred around the malevolent spirit of young Samara Morgan, out to avenge her cursed life, as witnessed in the earlier movies.

In Rings, the story picks up when Julia (Matilda Lutz) tries to find out what happened to her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) after he stops answering her messages or calls. Julia heads off to Holt’s university and stumbles upon an underground club set up by Professor Gabriel Brown (Johnny Galecki) to investigate the contents surrounding a mysterious videotape, which he picked up a while back at a sale of vintage items.

It is a rehash of the story we have seen before, nerve-jangling music and some pretty average special effects

Julia is horrified to learn not only the history behind the infamous video but also that Holt has seen it, so she takes steps to protect him.

Things start promisingly enough with two passengers on a plane discovering they have each seen the video and their week is up. Cue the plane encountering difficulties, and before it crashes we are treated to the sight of the lanky-haired ghostly figure Samara climbing out of a screen in the cockpit. But much like the ill-fated plane it is all downhill from there on.

Given the demise of VHS technology, it was clear that the writers David Loucka and Jacob Estes and Akiva Goldsman had to introduce modern technology into the story. This they do, yet the premise never develops beyond a mere gimmick.

The plotline involving the mysterious club investigating/celebrating the (by now available digitally and easily shared online) video was one I wanted to see more of. However, it’s not long before the story takes the easy route and falls back on tried and tested but by now oh-so-tired tropes… It is a rehash of the story we have seen before, nerve-jangling music and some pretty average special effects setting up the few and largely ineffective jump-out-of-your-seat moments.

The is-he-dead-no-he-isn’t mo­ment at the film’s climax and an ending that purports to wrap up the story completely, only it doesn’t, paves the way to what will inevitably be the third sequel.

Johnny Galecki’s Professor Brown is by far the most interesting character in the story, his cards played very close to his chest, making you wonder how sinister his intentions really are. Yet, while he runs, ahem, rings around his co-stars, we don’t get to see enough of him.

The characters portrayed by Lutz and Roe are rather anodyne and would have made a better impact had they been better fleshed out. As it is they have little chemistry, making you wonder why Julia would be ready to make such sacrifices on his behalf.

Character actor Vincent D’Onofrio is also on board as a blind cemetery caretaker integral to the story, yet cannot mine much more than a hammy performance out of the material.

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