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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Rings

Sigh.

This review is also up at Channel 24.

What it's about

The second sequel to the English-language remake of the Ring, where the deadly videotape starts to once again terrorize all who watch it and the one young woman who has no choice but to try and stop it.

What we thought

I remember nothing about the Ring 2 beyond a few rubbish CGI sheep but I can't imagine that it was anywhere near as bad as this sequel/ reboot.

The original English-language remake of the Ring remains a touchstone of 21st century horror cinema, both in the way it ushered in a, in retrospect, relatively brief but intense flirtation between Hollywood and Japanese horror (especially those involving water and lankly girl-monsters with long, straight black hair) and in being a very fine, genuinely quite creepy horror flick in its own right. It's been a long time since I revisited it and I am afraid that it might have lost much of its power over the intervening years, but, in my memory at least, it remains one of the scariest horror movies ever made.

It's with a certain amount of sadness, then, that I have to report that the attempt made by director F. Javier Guttierez and his co-writers, Akiva Goldsman and Juan Velarde, to both follow up the original and relaunch it as a franchise is an unmitigated mess of a film that squanders both the good will of the original film and its own perfectly decent (if largely entirely irrelevant) opening sequence involving Samara coming to claim her latest victims on a full passenger aeroplane mid-flight.

(Speaking of the film's villainess, do yourself a favour and check out the IMDB photo of the woman who plays her in this film, Bonnie Morgan. It's the only truly shocking thing to do with the film.)

From the introduction of Jared Galecki as the college professor who introduces the Ring tape back into circulation through to the film's pathetically underwhelming final twist, Rings is, at its best (and it's seldom at its best), blandly derivative of the original film and, at its worst, a dreary, boring and incoherent waste of celluloid that fails resolutely to raise either interest or scares.

Despite the seemingly endless information dumps, the film makes little sense and it's even harder to care when the characters are this less-than-paper-thin. With the film already failing this badly to bring the viewer into the story or to engage with the characters, though, it becomes all the worse when you take into account the dull cinematography, awful pacing and that horrible washed-out, blue-grey colour pallet that has become all the rage since the original Ring (remake) made great use of it but has become a millstone around the neck of more modern genre films than I can count.

While Rings is pretty underwhelming all the way through, it's in its final act where things go particularly pair shaped. Even before we get to the twist that's presumably supposed to be some sort of brilliant revelation but is instead little more than a daft attempt to set up more sequels, the final third betrays the creeping psychological horror that was the first film's bread and butter for the sort of sub-slasher nonsense that only the worst psychological horror films need resort to, but is exacerbated by some horribly murky camerawork that makes it as hard to see as it is to care about what's going on on-screen.

Italian actress Matilda Lutz does her best as our leading lady, despite the shaky material she has to work with (and certainly had me convinced that she was nothing other than a born and bred American) and Vincent D'Nafrio adds his usual gravitas to what is both the film's juiciest and dumbest role but if there is any hope to be had in successfully following up on the chilling thrills of the original English-language version of the Ring – and, considering how self-contained it is, I'm almost certain there isn't – it's certainly not to be found here.

Amazingly, though, this isn't even the worst horror sequel of the week!




And that movie is...


No real reason to review this: it fails on every single conceivable level but Resident Evil fans will still stick up for it. I do want to say, though, that this has some of the worst editing I've seen in a genre film in a long, long time. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (yeah, right) isn't just bad, it's all but entirely unwatchable.


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