THE RING TWO
When I first saw RINGU, the Japanese original, I liked it a lot. It had moments of silent human interaction as well as moments of stark horror and the two complimented each other without causing either to sputter.
When Gore Verbinski directed the American THE RING, he wisely kept those moments of silent human interaction in the flick. He wisely avoided "Americanizing" THE RING, preferring to tell a story instead of move some marketing product.
The director of the original RINGU, Hideo Nakata, admired the results. He also admired the way Gore Verbinski and writer Ehren Kruger combined elements from both RINGU and its sequel, RINGU 2, to make a more satisfying, less confusing, film. By the end of THE RING, questions still remained; but they offered a tantalizing mystery instead of plot hole vacuum.
When it came time to make THE RING TWO sequel, those questions, by necessity, would have to be answered. Unfortunately, they aren't.
What happens with THE RING TWO is that we get a teen girl sitting on a couch before a television screen. A teen boy enters the room and wants to show her a REALLY scary movie. Hoo BOY is the video a current slang for phat! She isn't interested however, as she had something more hormonal in mind. But the boy is pushy about it. She must watch the video first. Hormones after. Now every guy in the theater knows that the boy has watched the tape. After all, he doesn't want sex first! Rather stupid of the boy to demand that the girl watch it just minutes before his week is up.
For those of you who haven't seen the first film, the plot goes like this. You watch the tape, then your phone rings. When you answer it, someone on the other side says, "You saw it." Then you die in 7 days. Unless you make a copy of the tape and get someone else to watch it. Then the onus passes from you to them. It's a supernatural Netflix game of Hot Potato!
So all of those who saw the first one, know that this guy is cutting it close. The girl turns the TV on and pops in the video. Merry Mishaps occur.
As luck would have it, Rachel (Naomi Watts: THE SHAFT, MULHOLLAND DR., THE RING) and her son Aidan Keller (David Dorfman: THE RING, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE ) have split Seattle for the town of Astoria to get away from Samara and her evil ways. I'll tell you who Samara is in a mo. Unfortunately, the tape is also in Astoria and the Samara channel is picking up business. It's six months later and they are just getting settled in when Rachel hears some disturbingly familiar cop talk on the police scanner.
Rachel discovers that, sure enough, Samara is not only in Astoria, thanks to a copy of the tape that's making the rounds, but now she knows that Rachel is there as well. All is good now. Now we are going to find out why the Samara ghost, once freed from her prison in the well of the first movie, is still killing people. We are also going to find out how Samara came to have such extraordinary powers.
None of the questions from the first movie get answered! Instead, we get a whole new question. "Why is Samara trying to possess Rachel's son, Aidan?" As this question is pursued we get some excellent creepy scenes and scares which is all to the good. But the original questions from the first film are left hanging.
Worse, writer Ehren Kruger often seems to forget just what happened in the first movie - same as he seemed to forget the continuity of SCREAM and SCREAM 2 when he wrote SCREAM 3. Worse again, there are certain scenes that seem so formulaic, especially for someone who wrote SCREAM 3, which divulged all the old hackneyed tropes of piss poor Horror movies from the 1990s and 1980s. I grant you that Kevin Williamson, who wrote the first two SCREAM movies, is also dry humping the standards - as if that's clique and cute - but so what? With THE RING, Ehren Kruger set himself apart from the typical Hollywood horror flick that makes teenagers look stupid as a box of rocks and shallow as a teaspoon. And probably makes them want to pirate movies and pass them around (which is the curse that RINGU slyly referenced) just for spite.
A sort of vengeful,
Yet, despite these huge problems, THE RING TWO did deliver the scares, the creeps, and the horror. Naomi Watts brings luster to this dreary colored tale and David Dorfman, is gradually becoming a much better actor. Sissy Spacek (CARRIE) also does a good if all too brief cameo turn as Samara's real mother, locked away in a nuthouse. Other cameos include Gary Cole (THE GIFT, ONE HOUR PHOTO) and Elizabeth Perkins.
The cinematography by Gabriel Beristain (DOLORES CLAIRBORNE, TALE OF THE MUMMY, BLADE II, BLADE: TRINITY) is excellent as well as the foley sound team of James Ashwill (ALIEN: RESURRECTION, APT PUPIL, THE 13TH WARRIOR, THE BONE COLLECTOR, SUPERNOVA, IMPOSTER, THE BOURNE IDENTITY), Thom Brennan (all THE MATRIX movies, THE MUMMY, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, GHOST SHIP), and John T. Cucci (ALIEN: RESURRECTION, APT PUPIL, THE 13TH WARRIOR, THE BONE COLLECTOR, SLEEPY HOLLOW, IMPOSTOR, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL) which added to the creepiness with subtle sound effects.
Primo make-up effects artist, Rick Baker (IT'S ALIVE!, SQUIRM, KING KONG , THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, THE FURY, THE HOWLING, VIDEODROME, THE FRIGHTENERS, MEN IN BLACK [all], PLANET OF THE APES , HELLBOY, CURSED) is back to create a more subtle Samara face this time around, but with all the cgi and other special effects dancing around her head, you never get a really clear shot of her mug.
THE RING TWO is in every respect, a typical, by the numbers, Hollywood sequel. It doesn't stand alone; it isn't creative; feels like it was made by a confused PTA committee (Niiiiiice), and was only rescued by a better than average writer, director, and two main stars. Now this is odd because the producers, Laurie McDonald and husband Walter F. Parkes, have been the mentors/muses behind such movies as THE RING and LEMONY SNICKETT: A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. Together they produced MEN IN BLACK. Unfortunately, they also produced MEN IN BLACK II. In essence, it's hard to know where to put the blame so the responsibility must burden the shoulders of director Hideo.
In the final analysis, I find that - strictly as a Horror movie - THE RING TWO delivers. It would have been a good first movie in the series. But as a follow-up to THE RING, it didn't inspire me and I won't be buying the DVD.
Three Shriek Girls.
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