The phenomenal success of 2002’s The Ring confuses me to this day. For the life of me I could not buy into the film’s preposterous story of a video tape that kills people one week after viewing it. During the screening I attended of the film I had to oftentimes suppress my laughter, especially in the presence of the petrified teenagers sitting just one row in front of me. In an age of horror parody, which also lived a healthy life in the 1980’s, The Ring just didn’t gel for me.
Yet I had hopes going into The Ring Two, the sequel to the remake of Ringu, the Japanese phenomenon whose first offering was directed by Hideo Nakata. Great scott, he’s back! Nakata takes the directing reigns from Gore Verbinski, who suitably directed The Ring. I’m sad to report that not even having the original directing mastermind on board could save this clunker of a film.
Rachel Keller (Watts) and her son, Aidan (Dorfman), have relocated to quiet Astoria, Oregon since the terrors of the first film. Rachel now has a newspaper gig, but she doesn’t work much. As the film opens, a teen is attempting to get a girl friend to watch the infamous tape, undoubtedly to rid himself of the week long curse that is about to strike him dead. See, it was discovered in The Ring that if a copy of the tape was made and shown to someone else before your week was up, then you’re off the hook. Things don’t turn out as planned, and Rachel is quickly onto the story. Samara, the evil little girl who terrorizes through the tape, is back and ready to hunt down Rachel and Aidan, all in the hopes of taking human form through Aidan’s body. Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II would be proud.
Rachel spends most of the film talking to various goof balls, including Samara’s mom, Evelyn (Spacek, in truly bizarre form), in the hopes of ridding Samara’s curse. Poor sap Max (Baker) is thrown into the mix since Rachel and Aidan need a place to shack up away from Samara – hopefully. Elizabeth Perkins also turns up as a family counselor who thinks that Rachel is abusing Aidan. Snore.
The Ring Two is exactly what every horror film tries not to be, and that is boring. With the exception of a few semi-interesting scenes, The Ring Two is a talky affair that never really goes anywhere. Since we’re seeing essentially a verbatim copy of the original film’s story, we have no choice but to sit and hope something happens. After an hour of this nonsense, it becomes quite apparent that The Ring Two is just another early 2005 release concerned with just the dollar signs.
All of this leads up to possibly the most anti-climactic climax so far this year, with a poorly constructed and photographed finale that contains no punch. At least the first film had that. And also like the first film, The Ring Two could have done itself a big favor and ended a half hour earlier than it did.
Naomi Watts can pull off the two emotions – confused and concerned – her character requires quite well. It is David Dorfman as young Aidan that steals the show, however. This is despite the fact that you could get drunk in five minutes flat if you took a shot of something for every time he turns to the camera and looks evil. Gary Cole, aka Lumbergh, may be the most memorable character as he turns up briefly as a sleaze ball realtor.
Like The Ring, this film is overall nicely directed by ringleader (get it?) Hideo Nakata. The film has an appropriately solemn look and a few sequences may give some viewers a round of the chills just from their look. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger, who also penned Scream 3, plods the story along much too slowly and never makes anything very interesting or worth caring about.
The Ring Two is just as preposterous and silly as its predecessor. For me, these films simply do not work on much of any level other than a few cheap, if somewhat effective, scares. If you must satisfy your craving for a dish of The Ring, stay home and watch the first film, or better yet, Ringu – the real first film.
Length: 111 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for violence/terror, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language.
Theatrical Release: March 18, 2005
Directed by: Hideo Nakata
Written by: Ehren Kruger. Based upon the 1998 “Ringu” screenplay by Hiroshi Takahashi & the novel “Ringu” by Koji Suzuki.
Cast: Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, David Dorfman, Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Sissy Spacek