Fifteen years ago, Gore Verbinski brought us the spooky thriller "The Ring" about a video tape, a phone call and a creepy girl who traverses about in a contorted fashion. It was relatively spooky, provided veteran actress Naomi Watts a job and earned over $249-million worldwide.


That was enough for Gore as he went on to direct the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films that earned billions. He also pushed out the Oscar winning "Rango" and the horrifying "Lone Ranger". But he is no longer affiliated with "The Ring" franchise; in fact his latest film - "A Cure for Wellness" is opening against "Rings".


"The Ring Two" came out three years later in 2005, also starring Naomi Watts, also featuring the videotape and creepy girl, and earned $161-million worldwide. The franchise then took what turned out to be, an extended hiatus... but they are back.

Gone is Naomi Watts and presumably a much higher paycheck. In fact, with the exception of Vincent D'Onofrio, the latest version is light on talent. Ironically, Gore Verbinski, director of the first, is releasing his latest film "The Cure for Wellness" within the next two weeks.


The English franchise is based on Japan's Hideo Nakata's "Ringu" series. The key words are "based on" as "The Ring" deviated starkly to a no win scenario, where as "Ringu" had a solution - if the character could figure it out. "The Ring Two" continued where the first left off, but new director F. Javier Gutierrez ("Before the Fall") returns to the Japanese premise of an exit strategy.


After what is suppose to be a teeth chattering, skin crawling opening scene that winds up being as scary as a Barbie doll, the story shifts to present time with Julia (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) kissing her college age beau Holt (Alex Roe) goodbye as he heads off for college - they had to get the 'completely parentally acceptable teen sex' out of the way.

However, not long after Holt gets to the school he gets involved with a crazy professor named Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) who is conducting an experiment. The experiment includes... you guessed it... watching the dreaded Samara video. Well, Holt watches it and now he's running for his life along with everyone else involved with the experiment.


But Gabriel has a plan. He has discovered that if you make a copy of the video and get someone to watch it, you're off the hook. This is very much like the premise of the very well done 2014 indy "It Follows" that required the victim to have sex with someone else to pass the curse along.


Quicker than you can say "You need to put gas in that car", Julia is making the overnight trip to see Holt and find out what's going on. And quicker than you can say "Hit the pause button", she watches the video. Only the video she watches isn't quite the same as the one everyone else in the last two and half films have been watching. Hers has an added scene.


As if this wasn't standard enough, the rest is very underwhelming. The characters are forgettable. The story is rather boring. The performances leave much to be desired. The only thing remotely amusing are the special effects and the one particular stunt; that of Samara (Bonnie Morgan). In fact, Bonnie is a stunt woman and contortionist, so that was actually her walking like that. She played a contortionist in "Seven Pounds" several years ago and will be featured in an upcoming film, "The Magician" in which she is a contortionist.


Previous Samara's Daveigh Chase ("The Ring") and Kelly Stables ("The Ring Two") were a dancer and minor stunt woman respectively. That's your trivia for the year!


"Rings" is merely the third part in a franchise that should have been put to rest after the first. It offers nothing new but fodder for trivia buffs and the possibility of spoiling the release of "The Space Between Us."   -- GEOFF BURTON