At its best, a horror movie makes you fear the notion of a grisly end. At its worst, it makes you yearn for it. "Rings" by F. Javier Gutierrez is one such tale, categorized by sub-standard plot, predictable jump scares and characters you wish would just die already.
The film opens up with a scene set on an airplane where exposition is shovel-fed to the audience to the point where a character explicitly states "I saw a video that says I'm gonna die in seven days." Subtle. The scene ends abruptly on a scary shot of the movie's main antagonist Samara, played by Bonnie Morgan, and then the movie cuts to two years later, never referencing this scene again.
The main plot of the movie revolves around a girl named Julia (Matilda Lutz) and her insipid quest to end the curse placed upon her by a haunted video that kills the viewer seven days after he or she watches it. The story follows a formulaic pattern with Julia and her equally bland and incompetent boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) traveling from place to place, pretending to uncover clues and figure out how to stop the girl within the video from claiming any more lives. The movie ends with an unsatisfying and uninspired twist that I shall not spoil here.
The movie's list of positive attributes is abysmally small. The special effects unsettle the audience, and the first time we really get a good look at Samara, she looks great and the camerawork does her creepiness true justice. The scenes that include viewings of the haunted video itself are equally solid, as the imagery within the tape is thoroughly eerie. Besides the special effects, the concept of the video being transferred electronically en masse is frightening and could have definitely worked better had it been in an actually good movie.
The plot of the film is contrived and uninspired. The Ring concept is a rather interesting one, blending a fear of technology with a fear of the supernatural. This formula can and has been incredibly effective in the past, but falls flat here due to uninteresting storytelling. I found myself bored during a majority of the film, even during scenes that were obviously slated to be the "action" of the film. The confrontation that caps off the film feels rushed and not thought out, and the film's twist completely negates the entire plot of the film. Additionally, a major plot point revealed at the film's conclusion is spoiled in the trailer!
The characters themselves are already incredibly weak, lacking any defining qualities. This deficit is exacerbated by the sheer ineptitude displayed by the leading actor and actress. It almost seemed like Julia was performing a cold read throughout the film, her delivery as emotionless and stilted as possible. Her boyfriend Holt is not much better, as he delivers dialogue about as well as the antagonist (who has about one line in the entire film). The supporting cast does not do much better than the leads, and it is evident that casting direction was one of the weaker aspects of the film, and it absolutely suffers for it.
The cinematography is passable for a horror film, but still not impressive. There are an absurd amount of shots that show something disturbing, cut away to a reaction shot of Julia, then cut back to the previous spot to reveal that it was "all in her head." The director seems to think that these shots are the pinnacle of filmmaking, as he utilizes them to the point of hilarity.
This movie should not be watched by people. In a movie that should at its core be about valuing the time you have left, do not waste your time on this poor excuse for cinema.