So, the infamous cursed videotape has gone digital.  Rings is the third movie in the horror chain based on Japanese movie Ringu, and this time around it's... quite similar to what came before.

The movie starts with the latest person to watch the cursed tape on an airplane, which crashed when the ghostly Samara appears.  Two years later Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) buys a VCR that belonged to the victim -- and Gabriel watches the cursed tape that was in the machine.

We jump ahead, where Julia (Matilda Lutz) sees her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) off to college.  Things are fine, until Julia gets a frantic message from Holt's computer from Skye (Aimee Teegarden).  When Julia heads to the college, she's there when Skye is killed by Samara.
It turns out that Gabriel is a college professor, obsessed with the cursed tape: He has students watch the tape, times their "seven days" until Samara appears, makes digital copies of the tape, and assigns "tails" to watch copies of the tape so the would-be victim gets a reprieve.  Holt had seen it, so Julia watches his copy to save him.  But when Julia makes a copy of the tape, her copy is larger than the original -- and has additional images.
Julia and Holt follow the clues of the new version, hoping to save her and stop the curse.  This journey involved Julia's hallucinations, a town that had been flooded, and a blind caretaker named Burke (Vincent D'Onofrio) who remembers "the drowned girl."  And the seven days countdown continues...

The main problem with Rings is that it's virtually the same story as its predecessors: Someone sees the tape (or, now, digital file) and tries to interpret the images to spare themselves from being killed by Samara.  We get the same warning and timeline, the same disjointed ghostly figure, the same terrified and contorted looks on her victims, even the same dim lighting throughout the movie.  Since we've seen it all before there's nothing really new or scary -- and the paper-thin characters don't have much to do besides look worried and scream.  Rings has a few decent moments, but most of the movie is a dud.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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