Main cast: Matilda Lutz (Julia), Alex Roe (Holt), Johnny Galecki (Gabriel), Vincent D’Onofrio (Burke), Aimee Teegarden (Skye), and Bonnie Morgan (Samara Morgan)
Director: F Javier Gutiérrez
You know, it is 2017. VHS tapes are pretty much “vintage” collector’s items by now, so our dear Samara the Long-Haired Killer Waif is a bit irrelevant at this point. Not to mention, she spawned so many copycats that made “jump scare” a bad word in the horror genre. If these people want a Samara revival, Rings has better be damned amazing. Unfortunately, it isn’t. It’s a tired, boring, plodding rehash of the same old, same old, muddled further by a confusing story that doesn’t make sense in many ways.
Julia and Holt are in love, but Holt is off to college while she has to stay back to look after her mother. And then Holt just stops calling or Skyping her. A weird Skype message from Holt’s PC from this girl, Skye, to her is the last straw. Julia drives to Holt’s college, only to find that Holt is involved in a lecturer Gabriel’s research. Gabriel has his “test subjects” watch the infamous Samara video only to then pass the video on to someone else to watch it, thus allowing the test subject to skip the whole Samara coming to kill them thing in seven days. The whole thing, apparently, is a research to determine the existence of the human soul or something like that. Don’t ask, it’s just a dumb plot to get Julia to watch the video in a valiant effort to save Holt, and then the two of them head over to Samara’s hometown to find a way to “free” her. Julia believes that Samara is trying to reach out to her in a non-“killing you now” way, you see.
While this one is marketed as horror, it’s more of a very lethargic supernatural thriller. A lot of it doesn’t come clear in the movie, such as why Samara would be communicating in Braille, of all things. Or why she’d need to be “reborn” in a new host if she is already going around doing her killing spree. It’s not like she’d need a human body to shag hot guys or go shopping, after all. And do we really need to know Samara’s background story? She’s a dark- and long-haired dead girl who likes to do weird body contortions, and she is not even an efficient killer as she takes seven long-ass days to make a move on her victims. Who cares? I want to see her kill people, but clearly the movie disagrees with me.
Matilda Lutz and Alex Roe barely feature any discernible human emotion or expression that I have no idea what motivates them to do the dumb things they do here. Why on earth would Julia think she is so special? Why does she think it is smart to sneak off and wander into dark rooms like that?
Maybe the answers to these questions don’t matter, as the movie is all about the jump scares. You know the song and dance by now: dim the lights to near darkness, amp up the spooky music, then BAM! LOUD NOISE! HA-HA, WE SCARED YA! The whole thing is so lazy and predictable. The premise cripples its own scare quotient anyway: if Julia is special and Samara wants her to discover how to set Samara free, it makes no sense for Samara to harm her, so oops, there’s really nothing to be scared here other than more “BAM! LOUD NOISE! ” nonsense.
Rings is a waste of time and money. Horrible impersonation of weeks-old corpses from the bulk of the main cast, dreary and convoluted story, and lazy reliance on jump starts in place of atmosphere-building all make this one a must skip of a movie.
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