Rated PG-13, 117 minutes
Much has changed in the way of technology since 2002, but that has stopped the curse from the classic horror film "The Ring," in spite of the fact VCR's are all but obsolete (a fact the original movie overlooked). The exceedingly dumb, unnecessary piece of trash that is the new horror sequel "Rings" seeks to provide insight into the backstory of the curse, as if we really wanted to know.
A young woman (Italian actress Matilda Lutz) becomes worried about her boyfriend ("The 5th Wave's" Alex Roe) when he explores a subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a movie within the movie that no one has ever seen before.
Directed by Spanish filmmaker F. Javier Gutierrez with a script by Akita Goldman ("A Beautiful Mind"), David Loucka and Jacob Aaron Estes, "Rings" is an unfortunate, unscary mess and tragedy of a movie that takes the chilling premise from the original film, which itself was based on a Japanese horror film, and does so little with it that it's baffling. When things finally do happen, you realize how stupid the whole thing actually is.
"Rings" takes one plot element from the original film, that if you hand off the video to someone else, they take on the curse. Now, of course, it's a digital copy and those new viewers are called "tails," and it's all manipulated by a college professor ("The Big Bang Theory's" Johnny Galecki, who can do better than this), who unwittingly watched the video in the film's extended prologue.
There are a handful of jumps, but this time out, the curse is just not all that scary, and there are long, slow stretches where the most action will be looking at your watch. It doesn't help that the lead characters are just so, so dumb and the actors playing them - Lutz and Roe - are both terrible actors: they walk through traffic, into dark churches and houses and even cemetary's with no thought. Little is given to the development of this pair, and why a silly young girl would want to sacrifice her life for a doofus who got caught up in all of this in the first place.
Somehow involved in this backstory mess of "Rings" is a terrific actor in "Law & Order's" Vincent D'Onofrio, utterly wasted as a former, shady priest somehow responsible for invoking the curse. He provides some of the film's more tense scenes in the last act, if you are still awake to see it.
Like most, the original 2002 "The Ring" is by far the most chilling of this franchise. Lacking originality, any sense of coherency or scares, "Rings" is a piece of junk to be avoided. Rent "The Ring" and stay away from this time-waster.