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Film review: Rings – latest edition of J-horror classic brings nothing new to the once-terrifying series

Targeting a teen audience, this horror mash-up takes elements from its previous incarnations, but fails to match the scariness

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 7:01pm

2.5/5 stars

Although not a complete disaster, the latest of the Ring (or Ringu) films doesn’t bring anything new to the series. Because it’s aimed at younger teens – it’s PG-13 in the US – the film is very mild; this is a problem because the gruesome material is simply not suited to such a defanged treatment. After all, Hideo Nakata’s 1998 Japanese film Ringu is quite possibly the scariest film ever made, and even the US remake by Gore Verbinski had some genuine shocks.

Rings, by Spanish director F. Javier Gutierrez, is a more of a mash-up than a sequel, taking elements from the earlier films and recasting them in a rainy little town for a slice of American gothic.

Japanese movies have a legacy of terrifyingly vengeful female ghosts

The story starts on a university campus, where a professor (Johnny Galecki) has unwittingly introduced the infamous video to his students. If you’ve seen the earlier films, you’ll know that anyone who sees this video will die a horrible death within seven days. This version has a young couple (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Alex Roe) trying to stave off a terrifying death by offering the evil spirit behind the video some solace.

All the necessary elements are here: the hideous long hair, the spooky old well, the grainy black-and-white video, and so on. But the delivery is perfunctory at best, and viewers who don’t already know the story might not be able to figure out what’s happening. Western horror films almost always see the good triumph in the end, whereas Japanese ghosts tend to be unstoppable forces of evil. Seeing which path Rings will take provides the only real interest.

Rings opens on February 23

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