Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Movie Review: "The Ring Two"

Starring Naomi Watts, David Dorfman, Simon Baker, Elizabeth Perkins
Directed by Hideo Nakata

Following up on the somewhat surprising success of "The Ring," an American remake of the Japanese film "Ringu," comes the unsurprising sequel, "The Ring Two." Oddly enough, the director, Hideo Nakata, directed "Ringu" and its sequel "Ringu 2." But "The Ring Two" is not a remake of "Ringu 2." Are you following all of this? More importantly, does anybody care?
Employing Nakata would seem to have been an intelligent move, allowing him to build upon the creepy and fairly effective 2002 hit, starring Naomi Watts. He shows a good visual sense and gets the look of the film, set in the Pacific Northwest, just right. Too bad the script by Ehren Kruger left him with so little to work with.
The movie picks up about six months after the end of "The Ring," with Rachel (Watts) and her son Aidan (David Dorfman) moving to Oregon after the traumatic events in Seattle. But it soon becomes apparent that Samara, the spooky young ghost from the first movie, has followed them and wants to possess her son. The remainder of the film involves Rachel's desperate (and somewhat silly) attempts to stop her – evidently making use of as little competent assistance as possible.
The first film's main hook, that of a videotape that leads to a viewer's death within seven days of watching it, is brought back for the opening sequence, then promptly dropped for the remainder of the film. Perhaps everyone in Oregon only uses DVD players now.
Although credit has to be given for avoiding the temptation of running what worked well in the first film straight into the ground, there's still not much here that generates scares, much less suspense. Case in point, Rachel and Aidan are inexplicably attacked in their car by a bunch of deer. I think the killer rabbit in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" was a bit more frightening, actually.
Watts is game in her performance, but her character has seemed to drop IQ since the first film, making a series of dumb and implausible decisions. Plus, she's certainly not helped by a near comatose performance from Dorfman. Maybe I didn't pay close enough attention in the first movie, but was her son always so creepy? And I'm talking about before he gets possessed. Refusing to address his mother as anything other than Rachel (real cute, kid), you might be tempted to root for the ghost to keep possession of him. At least then he has a personality.
There are a couple of genuine spooky moments and the visual and sound effects are generally solid, but "The Ring Two" mostly feels like a script in search of a compelling story. In one scene, Rachel throws a copy of the cursed videotape into a fire and watches it burn. You might be tempted to do the same with this movie.
Grade: D+
(Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language.)

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