By Sean Ray | A&E Editor
The latest entry in the “Ring/Ringu” series, “Rings,” is messy, unfocused, but definitely more serviceable and entertaining than most modern horror-schlock.
Largely divorced from the events of the previous film, “Rings” follows Julia (Matilda Lutz,) whose long-time boyfriend Holt (Alex Rose) is moving away to college. When communication between the two starts becoming sparse and Julia receives a strange Skype call from someone else using Holt’s laptop, Julia investigates, discovering her significant other has become involved in a group studying the ghost Samara Morgan (Bonnie Morgan) and her cursed video tape.
As an admitted fan of the original “The Ring,” I went into “Rings” with a certain level of excitement. “Ring 2” failed to entertain, largely due to following the same characters from the first film. “Rings” promised to bring some fresh ideas to the table.
What I got, instead, was an utter abandonment of what made the original film so good in the first place. All subtlety or nuance is thrown out the window when the movie opens with Samara crashing a plane into a city. Not exactly the nuanced and tense mood of “The Ring”
From there, “Rings” uses a series of contrived circumstances and awful dialogue to drive along its convoluted mess of a plot. Julia and Holt deliver some of the worst supposed romantic lines since “Star Wars Episode 2,” while director F. Javier Gutiérrez treats the audience like absolute idiots, flashing back to things that happened only five minutes ago in case no one was paying attention.
However, despite all of these problems, “Rings” at least manages to be “so bad it’s good,” which makes it twice as good as “The Ring 2.” I had to stifle several laughs in the theater as the characters spouted absolute nonsense and ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. Supposedly dramatic moments were instead turned comical with the robotic delivery the actors somehow thought was good enough.
That is not to say that “Rings” lacks any good qualities. The sequences involving Samara and her supernatural shenanigans are some of the best in the franchise’s history. The water flowing upwards effect from “Ring 2” is recreated masterfully, the staticy nature of Samara is played up and a particularly cool shot early on involving a large window really caught my interest.
Bizarrely, more about Samara’s past is revealed, all of it serving to make her sad backstory even more depressing. At this point, the killer ghost girl is the most sympathetic and likeable character in the franchise, especially in this film, and one really gets the impression everything could be fixed if someone just gave the poor kid a hug.
While “Rings” does not manage to be anywhere near as good as the first film, it does succeed in being at least entertaining, which is more than anyone can say for “Ring 2.” For fans of Samara, the movie can be an absolute delight at times, with an awesome final reveal making the character seem even more cunning and brilliant. To anyone else, go in with low expectations, and there is fun to be had with “Rings,” just not in the engaging or intelligent sense.