Hollywood hasn’t exactly had the greatest success in adapting Asian horror movies for the Western audience. Sure, a small mint has been made by the likes of The Grudge, The Eye and Dark Water, yet each further attempt to cash in just seems a paler and paler facsimile of the original creep-fests from the orient.

And still, we still flock to see them.

Back when Gore Verbinski’s pallid reworking of the Japanese classic The Ring hit cinemas, it was clear that this series would become the latest horror cash cow, and, fifteen years later, we have been treated to the another offering in the franchise, the ingeniously named Rings.

Picking up somewhere after the last film, Rings follows Matilda Lutz’s listless Julia as she finds herself apparently the only person left in her hometown after her boyfriend Holt (Alex Rowe) heads off to university. After moping around for what seems like a lifetime (in reality, about a week), Julia receives a video call from Holt’s new female bestie, warning her that Holt has got involved in some risky business. Julie heads to campus to discover that, under the watchful eye of Professor Johnny Galecki (yup, really stretching his skills in this one…), Holt has got caught up in a cult-like investigation into the Samara tapes, in which each member must watch and then pass on the tape in order to keep the trail blazing. To save her boyf, Julie watches the tape, only to discover that, for reasons untold, she is watching a brand-spanking new version of the ghoulish footage.

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Thereafter, a convoluted mystery hunt ensues, somehow involving Vincent D’Onofrio and a piñata’s worth of dead birds.

I’ve said before; dark and brooding coupled with nonsensical bobbins does not an interesting story make. Unfortunately, no-one on the team seemed aware of this.

Meandering along through a series of set-pieces, attempting (much like the equally dross Japanese sequels) to further deepen the mythology behind the girl that got stuck down a well and then turned into a magical video tape, Rings suffers from being over-thought and yet under-executed. The experiment idea is intriguing, and yet there is little interest garnered as the movie plays out. Indeed, the only vaguely scary moment in the whole hour and three quarters is that bit from the trailer where Julie starts coughing up hair in the bathroom. Which is the last scene of the whole ruddy film… A mistake you would have thought they had learned from after showing Samara coming out of the TV in the first movie’s trailer. Sigh.

If, for whatever reason, you are a connoisseur of lacklustre sequels to American remakes of Japanese horror movies, or indeed you are a completest in the oeuvre of Johnny Galecki, then Rings will be right up your street. If, however, you’d prefer to spend an evening doing something more worthwhile, then perhaps go buy yourself a new fidget spinner.

‘Cause, y’know… That’s productive, right?

Dir: F. Javier Gutierrez

Scr: David Loucka, Jacob Estes, Akiva Goldsman

Pro: Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes

Cast: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Aimee Treegarden, Bonnie Morgan

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D.O.P: Sharone Mier

Music: Matthew Margesson

Country: USA

Year: 2017

Run time: 102 minutes

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