Naomi Watts, Daveigh Chase, David Dorfman, Simon Baker,
The Ring Two is just more proof that Hollywood can't
help but screw up a good thing. How often does a good horror
or sci-fi flick come out only to have a sequel come along
that completely ruins the mystique built up by the original?
Look at The Blair Witch Project, which was a surprisingly
interesting horror flick that got a mediocre
following that ended up killing the series. Even though
The Ring Two is directed by Hideo Nakata, the man who
helmed the original Japanese version,
the film shows obvious signs that it was nothing more than
a studio piece, being retooled on more than one occasion,
leaving behind a film that ultimately feels unfinished.
The story begins a lot like the original, with a high school
student dying horribly because he watched the tape. If you
had seen the short film on the Rings
DVD, you'd understand the backstory that leads up to the
opening sequence. At this point, viewers are shown that Rachel
(Watts) and Aidan (Dorfman) have moved to Astoria, Oregon,
in hopes of starting over. But not long after they get there
and settle in, Rachel finds another copy of the cursed tape.
Unfortunately, she destroys the tape, which releases the monstrous
Samara, who proceeds to possess Aidan so that Rachel can be
her new mother. Because of Aidan's possession, Rachel is forced
to find out about Samara and tracks down her birth mother
(Spacek), who basically gives her cryptic hints as to what
she must do - kill her own child to destroy Samara.
If reading that quick synopsis made you cringe, then watching
the actually movie isn't going to help much. Even though it's
directed by Nakata and written by The Ring scribe Ehren
Kruger, The Ring Two reeks of being manhandled by the
studio into slapping together a film in time for release.
Considering the production underwent script rewrites, a change
in director, a four
month delay and crew changes, what we've managed to finally
get is a film that at points doesn't even feel finished, as
if was cobbled together with the remnants of what was shot.
After seeing the Rings DVD, I have to wonder what
happened. The short film that lead into this sequel showed
lots of promise and gave us an angle that was actually interesting.
Once in the movie, that angle is completely thrown away for
a more basic tale. There are segments of the film that are
largely underdeveloped, like Spacek's part, and others that
could have been cut out all together, such as the sequence
with the psychologist/social worker. And then, there's the
fact that the ending features a really hokey element in which
Rachel is dragged into the world of the videotape.
When it comes to the performances, Watts and Dorfman work
adequately. Considering how little of the rest of the cast
actually get any screen time, they have to be good enough
to carry the film. Unlike the first film, The Ring Two
doesn't have any additional characters who help to flesh out
the story, giving Watts a counterbalance. There's no Martin
Henderson or Brian Cox to provide a "sounding board" for Watts.
Dorfman is once again sharp as the oddly mature son, but only
really loses some of his uniqueness when he is possessed,
at which point he just feels like the "same old creepy kid"
that shows up in so many of these films. Though Sissy Spacek
shows up in the movie as Samara's birth mother, her portion
is so small that it fails to be worth the money I'm sure she
got, which is a shame because I really think her portion could
have been a stronger aspect than what we got.
Following the theme of water, which shows obvious links to
the original novel and Ringu, The Ring Two features
a lot of water oriented special effects, some of which look
amazing in execution, while others look blatantly obvious.
Along with these are some more ghost oriented effects, which
also tend to be more insidious and effective. The scares in
The Ring Two are rather inconsistent in delivery. Some
are more creepy, like the sequence with Aidan in the bathroom
at the antique fair, while others involve jack-in-the-box
scares that are hugely out of place for the story. This time
around, Samara is shown off often, giving her a more slasher-flick
feeling, rather than the more psychological flair she had
in the first film. By the time you get to her computer generated
appearance late in the film, any degree of fear or horror
she may have evoked is gone. This is only redeemed temporarily
by a creepy and tense well sequence at the final climax.
If you can divorce yourself from the fact that The Ring
Two fails miserably in recapturing the spirit of the first
film, you might enjoy this film at a matinee price. There
are some well-shot sequences that tend to get lost in the
film, as if a more artistic flair got caught up in the production
by accident. Fans of the Ring series will likely want
to see this, but I strongly urge you not to waste full price
as this film just isn't much better than most of the horror
films that have been released lately.