A reboot of a relatively recent remake? The creative bankruptcy of mainstream Hollywood horror hits a new low with Rings, which halfheartedly attempts to bring the franchise into the new digital era, but sticks mainly to adding a bit of backstory to the original tale and rehashing tired old shocks.
Italian actress Matilda Lutz plays Julia, who becomes worried when her college student boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) stops returning her calls. Travelling to the university, she discovers that he has signed up for a dubious experiment being conducted by biology professor Gabriel Brown (Johnny Galecki), in which students are exposed to the infamous video recording featuring the deadly dead girl-in-the-well, Samara.
To save Holt from the curse – anyone who views the video will die within seven days – Julia watches the clip herself, but to Brown’s surprise, it results in revealing footage he has never detected before. The new scenes offer clues to the whereabouts of Samara’s body, prompting Holt and Julia to travel to Sacrament Valley, which may have been the hometown of her biological mother.
Spanish director F. Javier Gutiérrez delivers the occasionally effective jump scare, and Vincent D’Onofrio is his usual enjoyably over-the-top self as a blind man who may hold the secret to the mystery. But the two young leads are bland and the whole project is fatally undermined by a lazy, ill-focused script that can’t make up its mind whether it is a straight sequel or a whole new chapter in the franchise.
The finale opens the door for a new series of films, but on the evidence of Rings, they would be best advised going back to the drawing board.
In cinemas: February 23, 2017
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki
Directed by: Javier Gutiérrez