The Ring Two (2005) / Horror-Mystery
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 111 min.
Cast: Naomi Watts, David Dorfman, Simon Baker, Elizabeth Perkins, Sissy Spacek, Gary Cole, Kelly Stables
Director: Hideo Nakata
Screenplay: Ehren Kruger (contains elements of the novel "Ringu" by Koji Suzuki)
It didn't take me long to figure out the reason why The Ring Two isn't nearly as effective as its predecessor, The Ring. The makers of this film got caught up in thinking that it is the story and mythology that had people flocking to the theater in droves. Actually, what people really went to the theater for was a good scare and nothing more, which the first entry provided again and again. Horror sequels already have an uphill battle as it is, mostly because the horror behind all of the strange events have already been revealed fully in the first film. Usually, to combat this, sequels try to crank up the gore and sensationalism to an even higher degree, but The Ring Two goes in the opposite direction by barely even trying to raise pulse levels.
The sequel finds Rachel (Watts, The Assassination of Richard Nixon) and her son Aidan (Dorfman, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) out of Seattle, having relocated to the town of Astoria to get away from the memories and start anew. Rachel is working for the local newspaper when she stumbles upon an uncanny news story involving a dead teenager and a strange but familiar videotape. Rachel destroys the tape but the problems still persist, starting with the fact that Aidan thinks he can see young Samara, the horrific girl killer they thwarted in the past. Soon, Aidan starts showing symptoms of something unknown, including a drop in his body temperature, as well as some new, odd behavior. Once again, Rachel must get to the bottom of these weird events in order to try and stop them from consuming, and possibly ending, their lives.
If The Ring was just out to give you a scary good time, The Ring Two seems on a mission to lull you into meditative relaxation. Not that I'm opposed to a different direction for a sequel -- it is generally preferable to a rehash of the first film. However, if the first film were like this, I'd never have to write a review for a sequel, since very few would have bothered to see it.
I'm wondering just how many people were hoping to see more background to Samara and her tragic story at the conclusion of The Ring. Obviously, the makers of The Ring Two think that it constitutes the vast majority of those who enjoyed the first film, so they have provided a few new twists to her story. However, underneath all of that, The Ring Two is still the same "child possessed" horror film we've seen in many incarnations before, and even if it isn't just a regurgitation of the first film, it is still quite derivative as these sorts of films go.
As someone who didn't really like the first film, I'm not surprised that this sequel also fell short in my book. However, at the very least, I'm a bit disappointed at the marginal and very predictable thrills this one has to offer. When the "scariest" moment of your film comes when a bunch of deer decide to open up a can of whoop-ass on a car, you're doing something wrong.
The Ring Two, like the plight that Aidan goes through, is a shell of its former self, the temperature noticeably cooled off to the point where it appears anemic. Hopefully, like the mysterious tape itself, those who make decisions as to the franchise's future will see the folly in making any more "copies" of the original in the future.
-- The opening scene is a direct sequel to the events in Rings, a 16-minute short released as a bonus disc to the DVD of The Ring in 2005.
©2005 Vince Leo