"As a rule, sequels are terrible. And "The Ring Two" is not so much terrible as it is ordinary. It's graced with an outstanding performance by Naomi Watts and some truly creepy scenes, but it lacks the visceral direction of the first movie. In short, it's a sequel.
As the story opens, we see a slimy-looking boy tricking his girlfriend into watching (drumroll please) The Tape (anyone who saw the short film "Rings" will see the backdrop). As we know from "The Ring," if you get someone else doomed by the tape, you get to live and they die. But things don't turn out so well for the boy. Meanwhile, Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is fleeing to a rural town with her son Aidan (David Dorfman). They thought they had managed to destroy the evil Samara's curse, but of course they were wrong.
And no sooner have they settled down, than Rachel finds signs of Samara's presence. A young boy has died inexplicably, left with a hideous facial deformity. When Rachel confirms that it was Samara who killed him, she finds that Samara is now targeting Aidan's. In a nutshell, she wants to possess him. Now Rachel must delve into Samara's past to find a possible way to stop him -- or risk losing her son to Samara.
"The Ring" revamped the modern horror genre, casting aside CGI ghosts and machete-wielding wackos in favor of subtle horror and demon-children. Not to mention getting Hollywood interested in Japanese horror movies. In short, it was a horror hit that deserved to be one. But "The Ring Two" is merely adequate, not really good.
Maybe the biggest problem of "The Ring Two" is that it has no bedrock to stand on. Author Koji Suzuki wrote a sequel called "Spiral," which was then adapted into the movie "Rasen." But "The Ring Two" has no such grounding. It's just a free-floating Hollywood sequel, to a movie which was remake of a Japanese movie adapted from a book. Given those stats, it's amazing that it's as good as it is.
Director Hideo Nakata, of the Japanese "Ringu" films, was brought in to replace Gore Verbinski. But while he does a competant job, the film lacks the quick cuts, fast-forwarding and sense of pervasive horror. Instead, we get water on the ceiling -- pretty and moderately creepy, but very obvious. The laughable deer attack was just random, especially as Samara has no connection with deer. And Samara's occasional "boo!" appearances take away from her creepiness -- whatever happened to "less is more"?
Not to say that there is no creepiness and no subtlety. Samara alone accounts for much of them -- she slinks around like a less deteriorated version of Gollum, and seeks a "mommy." Nakata does a good job with the odd symbolism injected into the film, such as the ever-present water all over the place. (Interestingly, Nakata also directed the Japanese adaptation of Suzuki's "Dark Water." A bit of seepage?)
Samara aside, much of the creepiness comes from Naomi Watts' performance -- as in the first "Ring" movie, she exudes a taut, quietly frantic demeanor, while keeping herself focused. She gives what is undoubtedly the best performance here. Sissy Spacek gives a solid if brief performance as Samara's birth mother, but Dorfman is pallid as Watts' son.
It quite obviously is leaving the way open for "Ring Three," which is either a thrill or a chill. Taken alone, "The Ring Two" isn't a bad movie, but it suffers badly when set next to its predecessor."
Some Info on UNRATED Version
KiWiSouP | Minneapolis, MN USA | 08/22/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"the differences in the unrated version don't add any extra gore as some of you might think. the beginning scene is extended and extra character development is added back in. the editing and music in some parts is different and it flows much nicer. the only bad thing is that the editing and extra scenes stop halfway through the movie and don't stop this movie from being a sub-par horror flick."
Suspenseful sequel to "The Ring" quite a bit different
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 03/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Coming off as a pale imitation of "The Exorcist", "The Ring Two" has its moments of jolting horror and surprise. While it can't possibly compare to the original US remake, "The Ring Two" has two important things going for it-- Naomi Watts and David Dorfman from the first film. Watts returns as Rachel Keller and Dorfman as her son Aidan. The two have nice chemistry on screen together so it's natural to believe that they are really mother and son in this sequel. By avoiding the pitfalls of most sequels (redoing the best bits, making it bigger and badder than the original), the film also stumbles a bit; the psychological suspense thriller this morphs into will disappoint some fans of the first film. Sadly none of the other supporting characters are developed all that well. That's not to suggest that this isn't a good film; it's best moments including a stunning attack by nature, a bizarre incident in the bathroom and some truly creepy moments make this a worthy if lesser movie than the original.
In this case, the story focuses much more on the personal side of things. Naomi Watts returns as Rachel Keller who has relocated along with her son Aidan to a small town. When the videotape shows up in her small town, Rachel feels responsible for the death of a teenager. She believes that the evil has followed her and she won't let Samara spoil their new world. When it becomes clear that Samara wants something from her and Aidan, Rachel and her son must fight for their lives to escape this evil child-thing.
First for those who watched "Ringu 2" this isn't a remake of the first film. While elements of that plot are incorporated into this film, its plot veers off in its own direction. Director Hideo Nakata (who directed the Japanese original of "Ringu" and "Ringu 2" as well as co-writing them)keeps the pace moving along nicely. Although a bit disjointed at times (it feels as large portions of the film were excised), it works quite well. Although it isn't quite as gripping as the original US film, "Ring Two" works much more as a suspense thriller than a horror film; it focuses the story much more on the personal relationship between Rachel and Aidan and the personal threat they face from Samara. With some nice cameos (Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins and Sissy Spacek)to support the main cast, the film proves to be a superior, different sequel but not an improvement on the first film.
The creepiest set pieces remind me more of the film "The Omen" than they do something out of the first film. I'd suggest (unless you want to spoil the film for yourself) to ignore a lot of the reviews with too much details of the plot. "Ring Two" seems to be much more a psychological thriller than the first film with just enough jolts to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
Certainly lower key than the first film and focused much more on build up than the pay off, "The Ring Two" will disappoint fans that want gore (either blood or director Verbinski)but will remain interesting for fans of psychological horror films. What ultimately pays off for the film is the strong relationship between mother and son and the actors playing them.
The last thing I expected was a boring movie...
Allison Mansfield | North Babylon, NY United States | 04/08/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The Ring is one of my favorite movies. It is one of a very select few that actually caused me a sleepless night. So I was extremely excited to see the sequel, and my excitement was doubled once I started seeing the extremely creepy trailers.
I did not expect this movie to be as good as the original (sequels rarely are). What I did expect was an entertaining and creepy way to spend my two hours, and the Ring Two was neither entertaining nor creepy. In fact, it was BORING!
The haunting visuals and imagery are not enough to save this movie from a terrible story. This is one of the rare instances where a sequel actually makes the first one LESS scary!
The film started out well, but I sensed it was all going downhill once some laughable CGI deer appeared in a desperate attempt to recapture the horror of the horse scene in the first Ring.
Words can't describe how disappointed I was by this movie. Not even the terribly creepy scene of Samara climbing out of the well could take the bad taste out of my mouth.
Do yourself a favor: rent the first Ring and don't give the sequel a chance to ruin it for you."
Wouldn't YOU get rid of all the TVs in your new home?
Michael J. Tresca | Fairfield, CT USA | 03/28/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Ring is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. It was a decidedly modern twist on an old horror trope: after viewing a weird black-and-white video tape, the viewer receives a phone call explaining he will die seven days later.
What made the Ring so enthralling is that what could have been a cheesy horror movie became an exploration of psychological terror. Instead of just treating the bizarre tape as a typical horror film foil, the protagonist (Rachel Keller, played by the lovely Naomi Watts) uses all her journalist skills to get to the bottom of the mystery. She investigates the background of tape, has it analyzed and basically does everything a logical adult would do when faced with what's basically a killer tape. Rachel discovers that the tape is actually the psychic death knell of a demonic little girl named Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase) who longs to escape her physical and spiritual imprisonment at the bottom of a well.
In a rare twist, the more Rachel poked at the tape's mysterious origins, the weirder things got. More importantly, the film kept relentless pace with the tape's countdown of seven days. All of the scares were achieved without blood; water and wet hair have never been so horrifying. When we finally do see Samara crawl out of the television, it's to the film's credit that her appearance is as horrifying as we imagined. At the end of the film, Rachel discovered that her son Aiden (David Dorfman) had watched the tape and that the only way to save herself and the life of her son was by making a copy.
No happy ending. Rachel passed the horrible curse on to someone else. And that was the end of the film. Daring, innovative, and just plain creepy, The Ring made you want to move your TV out of your bedroom. Viewers haven't felt that way since Poltergeist.
Then we have Ring Two.
Studios are beginning to encounter a real conundrum in moviemaking. The Ring had a multitude of web sites supporting it that expanded upon the mythology in the movie, including one on the Moesko Island Lighthouse, whatscaresme, anopenletter, and sevendaystolive. Most of them have since been taken down, but they can all be found with the help of the Wayback Machine (look it up). With the advent of the Blair Witch Project, fans expect a supporting mythology and use it to flesh out the rest of the film's backstory.
All these web sites add up to a lot of detail about what happened to create this monstrous ghost known as Samara. With all this backstory, you would expect the filmmakers to further explore the questions around Samara's birth and death. We know only that Samara's mother, Anna, was incapable of having a child of her own and so she left for Europe, only to return with a child who "never sleeps." Samara's psychic abilities were evil...so evil that eventually Anna felt she had to kill her.
But that's not the story we're told in Ring Two. In fact, Ring Two seems to be hell bent on ignoring the rules that were set up in the first movie. We never see the tape again, although a brief introduction explains what happens if you don't make a copy of it. When that copy shows up in a new town that Rachel moved Aidan to, she burns the tape. And that releases Samara. Mind you, Rachel burned the tape in the first film and Samara was not released.
Samara then decides that she's going to live the life she always wanted, with a mommy and everything. Since Rachel and her son don't exactly have a close relationship (he always calls her "Rachel"), Aidan's possession by Samara takes on a kind of cheerful creepiness. Where Aidan is cold and distant, Samara is clingy and demanding. To Dorfman's credit, the child actor does a suitable job of switching between the two personality types.
Rachel searches for a solution to defeating Samara, only to suddenly stumble upon Samara's real mother (Evelyn, played for five minutes by Sissy Spacek). This fact somehow eluded Rachel in the first movie but is easily discovered in the sequel. Evelyn doesn't provide much insight anyway other than that, "Samara is listening...except when you're asleep."
It seems Aidan has psychic powers too and when he's not possessed by Samara, with a body temperature below 95 degrees, he can communicate with his mother. This bizarre plot device gives Rachel an advantage and she soon discovers that Samara's weakness is water. Which is odd, since that was never mentioned in the first film.
Along the way, there's a particularly creepy scene involving deer that is the high point of the film. Some reviewers have questioned the relevance of the scene, but in a rare nod to the original movie, animals can sense Samara and either run away from her or try to destroy her. In this film it's the latter. Unfortunately, the deer are entirely CGI (they couldn't digitally insert deer into the film?) and it's very obvious.
There's a glimpse of the original film in the finale, where Rachel gets sucked into the well and races to escape the weird, spider-like Samara. It's completely ruined by Rachel's catchphrase, "I'm not your F***ING MOTHER!"
And that's what's wrong with Ring Two. It's not a bad horror film, but it's not of the same quality of the first movie. Characters are introduced with the obvious purpose of killing them off, horrible deaths are telegraphed way in advance, and the heroine turns from a tortured, conflicted soul to a rock-climbing, foul-mouthed superhero straight out of Aliens and Terminator.
With none of the pacing, none of the innovation, and very little of the original plot, Ring Two is torn between staying true to the original and appealing to a general audience. In attempting to generalize the fear and horror, the film loses the spirit (forgive the pun) of what made the first movie so appealing.
Oh yeah. If a ghost popped out of your television, wouldn't YOU get rid of every TV in your house?"