As our longtime readers know, I’ve seen my share of stupid movies but it’s hard for me to think of any recent film that’s quite as dumb as Rings.
It’s a shame, really. Rings, which came out in February of this year, is the second sequel to The Ring. Despite the fact that it’s been imitated by a countless number of inferior rip-offs and the film’s central premise of evil traveling through a VHS tape has become dated, The Ring actually holds up pretty well. But, Rings just does not work.
It should be said that Rings gets off to a good and chilling start, with passengers on an airplane asking if they’ve heard about “the tape that can kill you” and then Samara Morgan (Bonnie Morgan) suddenly appearing on every screen in the plane. It’s the film’s way of declaring, “Just because VHS tapes are a thing of the past, that’s not going to stop our Samara!” It’s a good opening but it’s also only five minutes and it’s followed by a “two years later…” title card.
Spoiler alert: two years later, everything goes down hill and the movie gets stupid.
The main plot of Rings deals with Holt (Alex Roe) and Julia (Matilda Lutz, who looks and sounds like Ellen Page but isn’t Ellen Page). They’re teenagers in love and when Holt leaves for college, they promise to skype each other every night. However, one night, Julia sits down in front of her laptop and discovers that Holt is not in his dorm room. Instead, there’s a woman demanding to know where Holt is.
HOLT HAS DISAPPEARED!
Julia goes to the college to find her boyfriend. She discovers that Holt has fallen in with a professor (Johnny Galecki) who apparently watched the infamous video tape. In order to avoid dying, the professor showed the tape to one of his students. And then he had that student find someone else to watch the tape and so on and so forth. I kept waiting for someone to ask the professor why he was ripping off It Follows but, apparently, no one at the college has ever seen a horror film.
Anyway, Holt has yet to force anyone to watch the video tape and he’s running out of time. In order to save her boyfriend’s life, Julia watched the video. Oddly, we don’t really get to see much of the video in Rings. I’m going to assume that the filmmakers felt that it would be pointless to show the whole video again since, presumably, the everyone in the audience has seen either The Ring or The Ring 2 or maybe even Ringu. But seriously, this is a Ring movie. Not showing the entire video without interruption feels almost disrespectful to the audience. It’s kind of like making a Friday the 13th movie and then refusing to actually show us Jason killing any of the counselors.
Anyway, after she watches the video, a weird symbol appears on Julia’s hand and somehow, all of this leads to Holt and Julia going to the town of Sacrament Valley, which is where Samara was buried after she was retrieved from that well at the end of the first Ring. Julia and Holt do some investigating, which basically means talking to a bunch of overacting character actors with inconsistent Southern accents. The film spends the majority of its time filling in Samara’s backstory, which is kind of pointless since we learned everything that we needed to know about Samara during the first two films. It’s enough to know that she’s a little girl who can pop out of your TV and kill you. She doesn’t really need the Ancestry DNA treatment that she gets from Rings.
Vincent D’Onofrio appears as a reclusive blind man, who might be the key to figuring out whatever’s supposed to be going on. D’Onofrio gives a performance that makes his work on Law and Order: Criminal Intent look subtle and nuanced. Normally, I wouldn’t mind an actor going over the top in a film like this but there’s nothing surprising about D’Onofrio’s character. Even when his big secret was revealed, I shrugged.
Rings is one of those worst movies of 2017, featuring bad acting, bad direction, and totally wasting whatever potential the franchise had left. The dialogue was so bad and the characters were so inconsistent that the movie actually made me angry. It doesn’t even work as a self-reflective parody.
For the sins of Rings, we all deserve to watch this: