Death by sequel

Viewing Rings may be harmful to your health

Starring Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Bonnie Morgan and Vincent D’Onofrio. Directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez. Rated PG-13.
Rated 1.0

After seeing Ouija: Origin of Evil last year, and being blown away, I had newborn faith in the ability for horror sequels to entertain me. With this new outlook, I traipsed into my local cinema this week to see Rings, the second (and what I hoped would would be a much better) sequel to 2002’s The Ring.

A quick scan of the cast revealed Vincent D’Onofrio has a role in it. That’s good, right? Wrong. Rings is a slog from the get-go, a poorly conceived follow-up to what was a decent American remake of a great J-Horror film.

Italian-born actress Matilda Lutz plays Julia, bright-eyed girlfriend to Holt (Alex Roe), a college boy with whom she’s in a Skype relationship. In one of their talks, Holt mentions a super cool teacher named Gabriel (Johnny Galecki from The Big Bang Theory), and then gets interrupted by two fellow students forcing him to attend some sort of club meeting.

That club turns out to be a social gathering instigated by Gabriel, who recently purchased a mysterious videotape. He watched said videotape and somehow figured out he was going to die in seven days due to the viewing. (In response to this, I figured out I would die in about four days after watching this movie, it’s corrosive effects attacking my liver, pancreas and sense of self. Don’t worry, I’m countering these effects with lots of vegetables, salmon and life-assuring walks with my dog.)

Anyway, Gabriel figures out that if you make somebody else watch the tape before the seven days are up, the curse passes along to them, and so on, and so on. So a bunch of college kids are having a grand old time with his experiment, like some sort of chess club, passing on the curse and gathering to talk about it. Sometimes they use computers and mobile phones to watch the tape, effectively taking the whole franchise into “the now.” It’s so hip, it’s scary!

In addition to the story of Samara (played by contortionist Bonnie Morgan), the girl in the well who will kill you in a week if you watch her shitty art film, there’s this whole thing involving Julia and her quest to free Samara, a quest that leads her to the origins of Samara’s mom and an old house featuring a creepy blind dude (D’Onofrio). This leads to a finale that rips off The Silence of the Lambs. It’s also a scene that delivers a near deathblow to D’Onofrio’s career. Mind you, it’s a severe wound to his upper leg, so a good tourniquet might prevent him from bleeding out and staving off career demise long enough for the next near-fatal blow, which looks to be the upcoming remake of Death Wish co-starring Bruce Willis.

The movie was shot about three years ago, and experienced various delays before its release. And this year looks to be the recipient of another long-delayed horror sequel, Amityville: The Awakening, which has been bouncing around for three years as well. And just like that, the optimism fades.