A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rings is a sequel to the horror movies The Ring (2002) and The Ring Two (2005), which, in turn, were based on a series of Japanese novels and movies. As in the other stories, the characters in this movie watch a short video and then get a death sentence. There's a lot of scary stuff, including some supernatural elements (ghosts, etc.), killing/dead bodies, jump scares, disturbing images, a bit of blood (mostly bloody noses and a hand injury), fighting, swinging blunt instruments, and falling down stairs. The college-age main characters are shown lying in bed together in their underwear, kissing. There's also some flirting and brief sex talk, as well as at least one use of "s--t." An adult character drinks a little wine and whiskey and is shown smoking pot. Only die-hard fans should bother.
What's the story?
In RINGS, the cycle of the mysterious video and subsequent deaths continues. After a plane crash kills the latest victim, a professor (Johnny Galecki), visits an estate sale and buys an old VCR. Inside he finds the death-causing tape and watches it; he then receives the inevitable phone call that he'll die in seven days. He saves his own life by "passing on" the curse to others, including clean-cut college student Holt (Alex Roe) and his girlfriend, Julia (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz). With the curse resting on Julia, she and Holt begin investigating, using the images she sees in the deadly video. They're led to a dying small town and the home of a blind man (Vincent D'Onofrio) who may know more than he lets on.
Is it any good?
This lethargic, sadly unnecessary horror sequel attempts more of the same mythology but quickly proves to be utterly boring, with dull characters, no genuine scares, and nothing to say. Following the American films The Ring (2002) and The Ring Two (2005) and based on the original series of Japanese novels (by Koji Suzuki) and movies, Rings adds nothing to the franchise's mythology, with the possible exception of updating the old VHS tape to new, digital files that can be played on phones and desktops.
The characters' attempt to solve the mystery only begs the question: Didn't they already take care of this in the last couple of movies? And being stuck with the two main characters doesn't help; they're arguably the dullest couple ever to grace a horror movie. Director F. Javier Gutierrez goes for only jump-scares -- including the sudden opening of an umbrella! -- but they're so glumly routine that it's impossible not to guess when they're coming. In the end, this Rings is less "lord" and more "bored."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Rings' violence. How much is shown, and how much is implied? Would the movie have been scarier or less scary with more gore? Why or why not? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
How does this movie compare to the previous entries in the Ring movie series? Why do you think it took so long for the next one to get made?
If this happened to you, would you choose to "pass on" the curse to someone else, or would you try to find another solution? Why?
What do these movies have to say about the way we share media with each other?
- In theaters: February 3, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: May 2, 2017
- Cast: Johnny Galecki, Alex Roe, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz
- Director: F. Javier Gutierrez
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence/terror, thematic elements, some sexuality and brief drug material
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.