Review: ‘Rings’ Dooms Itself

Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of the J-horror hit The Ring is one of the best American horror films ever made. Hideo Nakata, who directed the Japanese original, helmed the 2005 follow-up The Ring Two, which was so bad it killed the English-language version of the franchise then and there.

This late-arriving sequel/reboot is a lot more enjoyable than the 2005 sequel, but never comes close to scaling the heights of Verbinski’s film. Rings had its release date repeatedly delayed, and the film reeks of mid and post-production tinkering, backing very slowly into its main plot. It begins with an almost entirely unrelated and clearly tacked-on pre-title sequence upon a jetliner, then introduces Johnny Galecki’s seemingly central professor character, before eventually settling on its protagonists almost half-way through the film.

For all the narrative clumsiness, the film maintains attention and serves up a couple of reasonably effective horror set-pieces. Plus, Vincent D’Onofrio (The Magnificent Seven) hams it up in the way only he can, which is always fun. So while there’s some entertainment value here, Rings is a let down more for the potential it fails to embody.

There’s a very interesting idea presented here, that of a cult-ish group of people who deliberately watch the cursed videotape with the idea that the curse can then be passed by making a copy for another willing viewer – “a tail” – so as to alleviate their fate. That the film fails to explore this potentially potent thread is its most disappointing aspect.

You could do a lot worse when it comes to mainstream horror films, but Rings dooms itself by being more interested in re-starting a franchise than telling a compelling – let alone scary – story.

‘Rings’ Movie Times | ‘The Ring’ Blu-ray, DVD & VOD options