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Rings Movie Review

Rings: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art
Rings is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray combo pack.

Rings (2017) movie poster Rings

Theatrical Release: February 3, 2017 / Running Time: 102 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez / Writers: David Loucka, Jacob Estes (story & screenplay); Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Kôji Suzuki (novel The Ring)

Cast: Matilda Lutz (Julia), Alex Roe (Holt Anthony), Johnny Galecki (Gabriel Brown), Vincent D'Onofrio (Galen Burke), Aimee Teegarden (Skye), Bonnie Morgan (Samara), Chuck Willis (Blue), Patrick Walker (Jamal), Zach Roerig (Carter), Laura Slade Wiggins (Faith), Lizzie Brocheré (Kelly)

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A remake of a Japanese film, 2002's The Ring was the rare horror movie to reach blockbuster status.
It did so with genuine thrills and organic word of mouth. It was a big enough hit to inspire a sequel three years later, but The Ring Two was not a big enough deal to inspire additional sequels. But franchises are all the rage these days, even revived ones that seem to have run their course. So, a year and a half after it was originally scheduled, Paramount today releases Rings, the third installment in a series few would have classified as active.

Rings opens with a prologue set on an airplane, as two attractive strangers make small talk through some turbulence. The guy admits he's recently watched an unsettling video tape rumored to bring death to those who watch it within a week. Needless to say, he doesn't make it past the prologue.

Julia (Matilda Lutz) goes looking for her missing boyfriend and finds a sordid underground society in "Rings."

Jumping ahead two years, we next find a rummage sale of his possessions including a VCR with that fated cassette jammed inside it. It is acquired by Gabriel Brown (Johnny Galecki), a college biology professor who will come to feature as the film's tertiary lead. Our two primary leads are Julia (Matilda Lutz, doing a pretty good job of hiding her native Italian accent) and Holt Anthony (Alex Roe), a good-looking couple about to part ways for the start of a college semester. They vow to Skype nightly but shortly before they are to meet up on Columbus Day weekend, Holt ghosts her.

It is troubling and unexpected enough for Julia to show up at his campus looking for him. She finds an underground club run by the likable Gabriel, who has turned the death-bringing tape into a kind of sociology experiment. As you may remember from the original film, those who watch the tape of horse drownings, dimension-traversing flies, and various miscellaneous horrors are doomed to die in seven days...unless they make a copy and share it with someone else, a target Gabriel has coined "a tail."

Well, times have changed. Now copying is done without tape decks, as QuickTime files are dragged and dropped. But that process has become complicated by the inexplicable addition of some mysterious frames and difficulties copying files.

You can bet this old blind man (Vincent D'Onofrio) has some secrets and skeletons in the closet.

Rings does a good job of recreating the look and tone of the original film, down to the green and yellow-tinted views of rainy Seattle. Its mystery, however, proves to be much less involving than the one that helped make Naomi Watts sort of a movie star.
It concerns the lineage of the spooky girl Samara from the original video, which leads Julia to a blind old man (a menacing Vincent D'Onofrio) and a new legend involving the girl, a well, and a religious figure.

Directed by Spain's F. Javier Gutiérrez and scripted by the random, uncollaborative trio of Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), David Louka (2012's The House at the End of the Street), and Jacob Estes (The Details), Rings borrows from the Final Destination series and The Sixth Sense. It attempts some jump scares to minimal effect but occasionally flirts with some creepy atmosphere and suspense. It doesn't sustain that, nor does it ever keep you invested anywhere near as well as the 2002 movie did. But who would expect otherwise on an untimely sequel whose hopes for success rely on you knowing its brand but only chance of winning you over is you not having seen the better version of it.

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Reviewed February 3, 2017.

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