The Ring 2
2005Director: Hideo Nakata
Cast: Naomi Watts, David Dorfman, Simon Baker
ne hesitates to use the word disappointing to describe the sequel to a horror film. After seeing even a scant minute of Jaws: The Revenge and hearing Mario Van Peebles’s hilarious accent, any moviegoer should have guarded expectations for the continuation of entertaining horror stories. But The Ring Two seemed like a different animal. Returning its two lead actors (Watts and Dorfman as the mother/son duo) and the director of The Ring’s much ballyhooed Japanese predecessor, Ringu (Hideo Nakata), a good portion of the population was convinced the newer Ring could overcome its horror-sequel nature. And so, to the tune of 35.1 million wasted dollars, The Ring Two’s audience got an expensive re-education on why for every Dawn of the Dead there are a dozen films like Exorcist II: The Heretic.
Our heroic Keller family has moved from Seattle to the sleepy coastal hamlet of Astoria, Oregon, in order to get a fresh start and ensure the devil-ghost-child Samara cannot find them again. It’s a good move for the Kellers, because God knows they don’t have TVs and VCRs in Oregon and it’s not like Samara is supernatural or anything. Despite their best laid plans, however, Samara pops up in Astoria to murder a local high-schooler who somehow got his hands on a copy of the infamous tape. Our first clue that we may not be able to take The Ring Two completely seriously comes when Rachel (Watts) investigates the crime scene after hearing the haunting details over a police scanner. She unzips the victim’s bodybag to reveal an at-once hideous and hilarious face, obviously the work of Samara. It’s not good for a horror director when the theater is in stitches at the 5 minute mark.
Man, Fiona Apple has really let herself go...
As Rachel frantically destroys the victim’s tape, attempting to expunge Samara’s existence from Astoria, her son Aidan wakes up to discover the family television acting in an all too familiar manner (Rachel is apparently full of good ideas like hanging on to portals of evil). Aidan approaches the TV to investigate after the controller fails to work, and what do you know, Samara is there! For the next few days, Samara slowly fights to possess Aidan in a desperate attempt to find the mothering she never knew. Once Rachel learns of this plot, we are introduced to a resolution phase nearly identical to the first film’s.
Rachel goes back to Samara’s family home, just to make sure she didn’t miss any clues the first time. Luckily for her, a baby book with information leading to the identity of Samara’s birth mother is sitting around in the basement. She parlays her newfound evidence, along with an impassioned plea to a medical records officer, into a meeting with Samara’s mommy Evelyn (Sissy Spacek in an agent firing role). Rachel’s deciphering of motivations and courses of action seems too easy this time around; the tension of the original is replaced by boredom.
Evelyn convinces Rachel that drowning Aidan is the best course of action because Samara was really possessed by an antecedent spirit who will only leave a child if the mother is willing to drown said child. Thanks Ring Two, like we didn’t have enough stories of psychotic moms drowning their children; I give it t-minus three months before the first lawsuit from a bereft father against Dreamworks.
"Um, a little help...?"
Upon returning to her home in Astoria, Rachel uncovers Samara’s latest victim, her co-worker Max (Simon Baker). Max was The Ring Two’s closest attempt at a character who didn’t share the surname Keller, but he was so depthless and underdeveloped that he’s already received more space in this review than he warrants. Essentially Max is a warm body for the slaughter, like Elizabeth Perkins’s character . . . nice to see her getting work though.
The Ring Two is not across-the-board awful. There is a jumpy moment or two involving Samara. And some amazing unintentional comedy (especially a hilarious scene involving local wildlife) finds its way from the cutting-room floor. Also, the acting is steady; poor Naomi Watts keeps a stiff upper lip even while delivering lines fit for the worst 80s action movies, and the supporting cast does well with the scant material provided.
But generally, The Ring’s sequel falls into the trap of: more special effects, more shock-scares, less atmosphere, and less creative writing. Consequently, the film suffers from the typical drop-off of good horror movie to bad horror sequel, and deserves to be remanded to the dustbin like all the rest. In a word, disappointing.
By: Kevin Worrall
Published on: 2005-03-25