Rings makes hairball-horror history



By Steve Newton

Rings is the first horror flick I’ve seen since Cheeto Mussolini and his treacherous gang of fear-mongering scuzzballs got access to the nuclear codes, so, relatively speaking, how fucking scary could it be?

Not very.

You may recall director Gore Verbinski’s original The Ring of 2002–which wasn’t all that original, I guess, being an Americanized redo of Hideo Nakata’s 1998 J-horror classic Ringu. But thanks mainly to a gutsy performance by Naomi Watts–before she started settling for lame psycho-thrillers like last year’s Shut InThe Ring hit home, even with its iffy premise of a cursed VHS tape bringing death, one week later, to all who view it.

Those grainy black-and-white video images of a twitchy ghoul in a filthy white dress, face hidden by a curtain of black hair, crawling crablike from a stone well and then right through the TV screen were hard to shake. A 2005 sequel couldn’t match it, but that didn’t stop the franchise from pluralizing its title and taking another kick at the can.

In director F. Javier Gutiérrez’s weak and utterly uncalled-for Rings, Jessica Alba-lookin’ Matilda Lutz stars as Julia, who we meet as she’s seeing boyfriend Holt (the wooden Alex Roe) off to college. But the dude runs into trouble when he falls under the spell of a professor named Gabriel, played by the woefully miscast Johnny Galecki. After 10 years as happy nerd Leonard on The Big Bang Theory, Galecki just doesn’t cut it as a shifty prof using students as guinea pigs in death-defying experiments with a haunted tape.

Before long the heroic Julia gets caught up in them, though, and after saving Holt’s life by risking hers, the two of them head off to the creepy small town of Sacrament Valley to search for clues to the meaning of the tape and, tragically, unearth plot points for future sequels.

See Julia get trapped and terrified in a crypt. See her get strangled by a murderous blind man. See her cough up the world’s longest hairball.

Better yet, just stay home and stream The Ring. Or Ringu, if you can swing it.


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