Following a long spell on the shelf and several release date shuffles, perhaps the most disappointing thing about F Javier Gutiérrez’s Rings, the third film in the American remake series, is how dull it is, in spite of some interesting ideas.
The film begins with Julia (Matilda Lutz) packing her devoted boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) off to college with pledges of daily Skype calls. She’s alarmed when he cuts off all contact, and even more so when a classmate calls her frantically looking for him. She heads off to find her missing beau, only to discover that a professor has been studying the Samara tape with predictably devastating results.
Rings kicks off with a heavily-trailed set-piece that is so giddily absurd that it’s hard to tell whether it’s brilliant or awful, but it’s a misrepresentation of the rest of the film, which gets increasingly plodding and dour as it goes on.
This is particularly irritating because there are flashes of potential. There’s a much better film to be made with Johnny Galecki’s swaggering, morally ambiguous biology professor Gabriel and his ill-advised research programme (reminiscent of the much more entertaining Sadako Vs Kayako), which feels at the very least like the foundation for a fun, schlocky B-movie and potentially for something intriguing.
However, by the halfway point Rings has gone straight back to the mystery formula as Julia, like Naomi Watts’ Rachel in the previous two films, heads back to where it all began…again. Gutiérrez and cinematographer Sharone Meir find some nice imagery in the creepy waterlogged town as Julia goes on her treasure hunt, fitting the fragmented images from the video into a puzzle, but it’s all brutally slow, especially given that we’ve been here before.
The performances are mostly fine. An early conversation between Julia and Holt about Orpheus and Eurydice establishes that she’s going to be the one doing the rescuing, but Lutz doesn’t get much to work with beyond that. It’s a decent lead performance, however, and the supporting work from Galecki and Vincent D’Onofrio (a blind local who’s got the skinny on what happened to Samara after she died) is solid.
However, it’s far too long at 102 minutes, it doesn’t follow through on any of its interesting ideas, it’s never scary and, most unforgivably, it’s boring. You can skip this one.