The Ring Two

It was inevitable that The Ring Two arrive in theaters. Not only because The Ring brought in scads of money, but because Ringu, the original Japanese version of The Ring, had a sequel, appropriately titled Ringu 2. The producers brought in Japanese Director Hideo Nakata to direct this installment, also interesting because he was the director of Ringu and Ringu 2. In other words, who better to direct the remake than the guy that did the original? Nakata also directed the Japanese Dark Water (soon to be remade), and is directing the American remake of the Chinese/Thai horror film The Eye. This isn't unprecedented, as Takashi Shimizu, director of Ju-On: The Grudge, also directed the American remake, The Grudge. Most of these films are horror films that focus less on violence and gore, and more on an overwhelming sense of dread and fear. They set up all the scenes, and leave it to the viewer to imagine the worst. It's a nice change of pace from American horror, which is now coated either in blood or sarcasm.

The Ring was the first of this new horror film to arrive in American theaters. It was very effective, and unfortunately, The Ring Two does not come close. Both were based on Koju Suzuki's novel Ringu, and both were adapted by Ehren Kruger (Impostor, Reindeer Games). There doesn't seem to be much of a point to this sequel, and worse, it eschews the overwhelming sense of something bad in favor of CGI and violence. It's somewhere in between Japanese and American horror, and that's not necessarily a good thing. Nevertheless, Nakata does still film using a dreary color palette awash in grays and blues, and The Ring Two does work on a basic level.

The story takes place shortly after the first. Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, I [Heart] Huckabees) moved with her son Aidan (David Dorfman, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Singing Detective) from Seattle to a sleepy coastal Oregon suburb to start over and forget about Samara (now played by Kelly Stables, Pride and Prejudice, The Haunted Mansion), the girl who died in the well in the first film. She thinks she is safe, but hey, this is a horror movie after all. Aidan (who calls his mother "Rachel") begins acting stranger than he already does. He has nightmares about Samara, and begins seeing her all over the place. He doesn't tell Rachel, who simultaneously discovers that a new tape may have emerged. Things quickly escalate, and Samara emerges to again wreak havoc in the lives of the Kellers.

Plot holes riddle Kruger's script. The original was good because everything came together neatly by the time the movie was over. The plot here is a bit too simplistic, and has Watts going all over the place in a haphazard search for clues. There is less a sense of overall cohesion, and more of trying to fit in as many thrills as possible. Chopping off about twenty minutes would have been a good idea. Also gone is the sense of urgency. Keller had seven days to solve the mystery in the first; here she is under pressure, but the deadline is vaguer. With the extra time, Nakata and Kruger delve a bit (unnecessarily at that) into Samara's life, and take another trip back to her family farm in Washington. Two sequences stand out in their ability to creep out audiences; one invovling a number of stags and Rachel's car, and another involving the water in a bathtub. But these are only two scenes in The Ring Two, which doesn't stand up against the original.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 51 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, disturbing images, thematic elements, and some language.

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