Samara, if you don’t know her yet, is a poor little girl whose long hair covers her face. She died violently and now haunts those who watch her video where she is shown coming out of a well and then, later, out of the TV screen to get her victims. The story then jumps to two years later when a college professor, Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), buys in a flea market an old VCR that used to belong to one of the dead passengers. He brings it home and discovers that there’s a videotape inside and, you guessed it right, it’s the Samara thingy.
The focus then shifts to high school sweethearts Julia (Matilda Lutz) and Holt (Alex Roe) who are supposed to be teenagers but look more like post-graduate students. They’re saying goodbye to each other because Holt is leaving for college. They even compare themselves to the legendary Greek lovers, Orpheus and Eurydice. (Google them if you don’t know them.)
They arrange to communicate regularly on the internet, but soon Holt seems to have suddenly vanished, and worse, an angry woman, Skye (Aimee Teegarden), calls Julia using his account. Skye is so mad about something that Julia doesn’t understand so Julia decides to go to his campus to find out what’s happening.
She first meets Gabriel, Holt’s professor, and follows him to a building where she sees Skye, who takes her to her own apartment so she can watch the cursed video, without knowing that the curse will be transferred to her. But before she can do that, Holt calls her and warns her not to watch it. Samara then appears to kill Skye.
Holt arrives and, to help him, Julia watches the video and discovers there’s additional footage no one has noticed before and she decides to solve the mystery. They go a town called Sacrament Valley in the Pacific Northwest, where Samara was buried. It was there that Julia sees the old church that she saw on the video and where they meet a blind man named Burke (Vincent D’Onofrio).
Following her visions, Julia discovers there’s a hidden room where a young woman was held captive against her will and this leads to more revelations. They get to solve the mystery of Samara but do you think this ends Samara’s cycle of death and vengeful attack on innocent people? Well, you have another think coming.
This reboot of the “Ring” franchise is being re-introduced to a younger audience and now includes today’s latest technology involving smart phones, the internet and social media. But sorry to say that “Rings” offers very little in terms of genuine scares and fails to recreate the dreadful tone or macabre atmosphere of the first two films. There are some interesting elements, though, like a fly that is shown emerging from the cigarette that Gabriel smokes, the cicadas that appear at the film’s climax and the graffiti scratched on the wall of a crypt, but they’re not enough of a saving grace to redeem the movie from being such a big bore.
Done without much flair or style, “Rings” just does not have a single truly suspenseful or frightening scene. The past “The Ring” movies worked because the acting of Naomi Watts somehow managed to surpass the silliness of the material. Sad to say, not one of the cast members of “Rings” is good enough to deserve their pay checks.