“Rings” (2017) actually begins with great promise — it looks like the rare horror “threequel” that could live up to its two predecessors. (And the early millennium’s “Ring” films were indeed good movies.) It starts with a truly fascinating story device that I won’t spoil here, except to say that it’s macabre and thoughtful and involves an intrepid college professor (Johnny Galecki).
Inexplicably, the movie abandons this unsettling stroke of genius about 20 minutes in, and instead falls back on a by-the-numbers plot that too closely parallels the first films. What follows is pretty average stuff. Instead of the lovely and talented Naomi Watts, who was the capable heroine of the first films, we get two flat, college-aged protagonists portrayed by two mostly flat young actors. (Alex Roe is particularly bad.) Not even the arrival of the great Vincent D’Onofrio in a supporting role can redeem “Rings” past the direct-to-video level of quality.
Oh, well. This still wasn’t the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen, and it did have some creepy parts. (I thought the movie’s closing moments were pretty effective.) I’d call “Rings” an average outing and rate it a 6 out of 10.
Postscript: D’Onofrio has a damned cool voice. I’m serious.