‘Rings’ less scary, less imaginative, less engaging

“Rings,” directed by F. Javier Gutierrez, hit theaters Feb. 3.

When I was younger, I peed my pants watching Gore Verbinski’s “The Ring.” As far as horror movies go, that’s setting the bar high for me. When I heard about “Rings,” directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez, I almost peed my pants in excitement. I wish I could say it was everything I was hoping for and more, but I left the theater feeling unfazed.

“Rings” is essentially a more science-based version of its predecessor, “The Ring.” This recent installment follows Julia, a young adult who insists on being a hero.

Holt, Julia’s boyfriend and supposed one true love, leaves for college and begins ignoring her calls and texts. As the story progresses, she discovers an underground science experiment featuring a creepy black and white VHS tape that leaves someone with only seven days to live after they watch it. Julia then decides it’s her responsibility to put a stop to the entire operation and save VHS-watchers everywhere.

My primary issue with this film was Julia. While I can appreciate her attempt at feminism, I thought she was just downright dumb—the type of protagonist you’re yelling at for going upstairs or investigating the mysterious noises in the other room. She marches into dangerous situations without thinking and without backup. There’s a difference between being a tough female lead and a reckless one. Julia falls into the latter category, in annoying fashion. Aside from her questionable decision-making, we don’t know much about her. Or any of the other characters, for that matter. It was hard to find anyone to connect with or cheer for in this film.

I also expected more from the plot. There were several scenes throughout the film that made me think, “This is just like that other scary movie.” There are a few shudder-worthy scenes in the movie and quite a few jump-scares tossed into the mix, but nothing that I think back on with fear. This film could have done so much with the modern setting and current technology, but everything is just so lackluster.

However, there is one aspect of the movie that shines: the ending. I hate a story with a happy, ribbon-tied ending, and I am delighted to say that “Rings” does not give us one. Whereas much of “Rings” is timid, the film’s conclusion, while not all that unpredictable, delves into a more intense and sinister component. I was left with several questions leaping around my head, and I am more than pleased to not have answers. I am content to let my imagination take the reins at the end.
If the entire film had gone to the same place its finale went, “Rings” could have been absolutely fantastic. As it stands, most of the movie is not very scary, imaginative or engaging.