"The Ring Two" is the sequel to the remake of a film which
itself has spawned a franchise in addition to a legion of imitators, it
was never likely to win any prizes for originality. The only real point
of interest for genre fans is the fact that it is directed by Hideo
Nakata, the man responsible for the original Japanese "Ringu",
the film whose international success opened the floodgates of Asian
horror for Western viewers.
Unfortunately, although Nakata's presence promises
much, it counts for very little, as the film is an absolute bore, a by
the numbers studio picture aimed firmly at the teen demographic, and
lacking in any of the ruthless chills which made the original so
memorable. Instead of attempting anything new, or worse still, horrific,
Nakata lamely plunders his own films, rehashing ideas which have already
been copied ad infinitum, and chooses to make this wholly unnecessary
sequel yet another entry in the inexplicably popular 'possessed child'
sub-genre. As a result, "The Ring Two" is a complete failure,
coming across as a weak mixture of the director's previous effort,
and recent flops such as "Godsend"
and "Hide and Seek" – a prospect which is sure to terrify
horror fans for all the wrong reasons.
The plot takes up a few months after the end of its
predecessor, with reporter Rachel (a returning Naomi Watts) and her son
Aidan (David Dorfman, who also played a creepy kid in the "Texas
Chainsaw Massacre" remake) having relocated to Oregon in an
attempt to put the events of the past behind them. Unfortunately, it
seems that sinister video goblin Samara is not finished with them yet,
as a young teen couple turn up dead in familiar circumstances. Although
Rachel manages to destroy the videotape, her son is soon acting
strangely, and it becomes clear that the evil spirit has her own plans
for him, or more precisely, for his body.
There are countless films with similar plots as
"The Ring Two", and it is a real shame that Nakata and writer
Ehren Kruger (who also wrote the original remake, as well as cursing the
genre with the bloated histrionics of "Scream
3") decided to take such a well-traveled route. The premise at
the heart of the 'Ringu' mythos is one with considerable potential for
expansion and elaboration, as already shown by the Japanese sequels,
both of which provided fairly leftfield takes on the material. However,
Nakata here dispenses with the 'cursed video' concept almost entirely,
paying only lip service to the previous film, and instead focusing
entirely on Samara's attempts to take over the son's body.
This completely undermines what is a very strong
central gambit, and those expecting scares along the lines of the
original will be sorely disappointed. In fact, Nakata has produced a
film almost devoid of frights, as apart from a bizarre CGI deer attack
and a couple of the expected sequences where Samara crawls out of
televisions, there is very little effort made to raise the viewer's
pulse. Instead, we are given countless scenes of exposition and
flashbacks which attempt, quite needlessly, to further flesh out the
character of the ghost. Unfortunately, none of these are particularly
interesting, and are in fact counterproductive, detracting from Samara's
effectiveness as a cold force of evil, and instead establishing her as a
little girl whose motivation for killing and cursing is simply to find a
mother who loves her.
This last part was a concept which Nakata has already
tackled and to far better affect in "Dark Water", from which
he also borrows the devastatingly unfrightening over use of 'possessed
water'. As well as achieving the impossible by making "The Ring
Two" seem even less original, this depressing self-plagiarism goes
one further, by effectively invalidating the forthcoming "Dark
Water" remake itself.
to reducing the amount of scare scenes in the film, all of this
long-winded melodrama reduces the pace to a sluggish crawl. Nakata's
direction is disappointingly anonymous and without any flair or style,
and in a fashion which belies his past successes. There is no real
reason why his talents should not translate to Hollywood cinema, and as
such he gives the impression of being supremely uninterested, a feeling
which the viewer sadly soon comes to share.
Simply put, there is nothing about "The Ring
Two" which makes it worth watching. Indifferently made and written,
and with no ambition whatsoever regarding entertainment, it is a hollow
exercise in money making, and one which hopefully signals the end of a
franchise which has already, rather ironically, come to resemble its own
cursed video concept.