Rings: Film Review
Cast: Johnny Galecki, Alex Roe, Matilda Lutz, Vincent D'Onofrio
Director F J Guiterrez
The Hex files returns in the second sequel to the 2002 American horror that was a remake of 1998 Japanese scare fright.
But, quite frankly, with a run time of nearly 2 hours and nary a scare at all, its return is hardly warranted.
This time around, it centres around Matilda Lutz's Julia whose boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) is heading off to college while she stays home and nurses her sick mother.
However, when Holt misses a Skype conversation and a strange girl is seen on the other end demanding to know where he is, Julia packs up the car and drives the 514 miles to his college to find him.
And it's here that Julia finds herself sucked into the world of Samara after she discovers that Holt's watched a computer file of the original video tracked down by Professor Gabriel Brown (a pudgy downbeat Johnny Galecki from The Big Bang Theory).
Realising that the only way to shake the curse is to find herself a tail (ie someone who will watch the video and take the curse on), Julia tries to do this - but she finds her digital file won't copy, so she can't pass it on (a la It Follows).
With 7 days before Samara claims her victim, Julia and Holt race to track down the truth of Samara before it's too late.
A ghost story with no (after) life and with generic leads that look like they're sleep-walking through proceedings, Rings is a dull, uninspired, frustratingly gloomy and predictable piece of fare.
It's a shame as it starts brilliantly on an aeroplane with tension and a devilishly clever way of bringing the curse to life (Samara's static image appears on flight instruments, in chair entertainment) before squandering its visual touches for a cut that robs you of anything other than a feeling you've been watching an out-take from a Final Destination film.
Director F J Guiterrez assembles some truly impressive apocalyptic visuals, from crows twitching to birds flocking near a church, but over-use of them dilutes their initial impressiveness and the final product resembles something from a 90s Nine Inch Nails video that didn't quite make the cut.
The leads don't do much better - Lutz looks like Rachel McAdams and Roe a little like Devon Sawa - and they can't do anything to bring any of this script to life, as they splutter from one choppy encounter to the next.
Every jump scare is signposted from a mile off and hits with a sickening dull thud that barely registers on the scare-o-meter - it's as if the execution of Rings is nothing more than hitting a series of familiar tropes and beats as a series of set pieces emerge into proceedings. There's a bit of an upgrade with phones and flatscreens taking on Samara's curse, but quite frankly, the film works too hard to achieve so little.
In much the same way that old VHS tapes used to fade in quality the more you used them or copied them, Rings is a pale imitation of the genuinely terrifying original. To call it derivative is to point out the blatantly obvious, but quite frankly, this shoddy sequel which has been shunted around the release schedule since November 2015 is nothing but a frank and unadultered stultifying mess of a movie, guaranteed to make you wish the curse would just take you out of the cinema. For a film that's supposed to look at what happens next to the soul, it's distrubingly soulless.