Ring of ire
The Ring Two
Last year, producer Sam Raimi made the decent enough decision to do an American remake the Japanese horror film Ju-On, hiring the original movie’s director to pilot the remake. The result was a gripping, effective film named The Grudge, one of the scarier horror films of recent years.
After the success of The Ring, from director Gore Verbinski, producers decided to bring in Hideo Nakata, the original director of Ringu (the film on which The Ring was based) to take a crack at The Ring Two. While The Ring was in some ways a better film than The Grudge, The Ring Two represents a tremendous plummet in entertainment quality.
For starters, this film is boring. Bor-ring! Nakata’s dreamy style worked for his Ringu, but his pacing leaves American actors looking all lost and confused. Naomi Watts returns for another go as Rachel Keller, world’s worst mom when it comes to what she allows her kid, Aidan (the droll David Dorfman), to watch on television.
The film picks up where the last left off. Rachel, after making one copy of the infamous video tape that kills its viewers one week after they watch it, has relocated to some spooky Oregon town after leaving Seattle. She’s tacking away at a little local paper when word comes over the radio that some kid has died, and he’s a real, real ugly corpse. She goes to the death scene, sneaks a peak at the dead guy (his face frozen in that familiar, stretched-out scream made famous by dead folks in The Ring) and realizes that the curse is following her family.
In my humble opinion, tapes being viewed en masse and lots of people getting offed by the vengeful little girl in the well would’ve been a cool idea. That’s not what happens in Ring Two. After a lame opening straight out of the lousy Scream series (coincidentally, the screenwriter for Scream 3 wrote this film), all action focuses on Rachel and Aidan as Samara the Well Girl tries to possess the young boy so that she can have a mommy.
This plot setup means we have to endure lots of scenes with the precocious Dorfman looking and acting all distressed, something he doesn’t do all that well. Watts, as usual, acts her heart out, screaming with the best of them and squirting gallons of tears. It’s a painful experience watching a great actress labor like this, with it all being for naught. A less committed artist would’ve phoned in her performance and picked up a paycheck for this one, but Watts does give it her best.
As for the whole Samara-wants-a-mommy thing, it really takes away from the dread created in the first film. Giving Samara this kind of motive for her murderous ways takes away the mystery and the sense of random mayhem that would make the series unpredictable and creepy. Aidan getting possessed by Samara is just too Exorcist, and after last year’s Exorcist: The Beginning, I’ve had it up to here with possession films.
There are a couple of sequences that do look great, like an interesting bathtub scene where water is rising to the ceiling, and a finale where Rachel faces off with Samara in her watery lair. However, that finale is marred by one of the dumber solutions to shutting down a ghost I’ve ever seen in a movie.
The scares are scarce, and the kids are annoying, so there’s just no need to see this. Some things are better left alone, and the American Ring franchise should’ve stopped with the first. At least Naomi Watts gets some scream practice for later on this year, when she’ll play a big gorilla’s girlfriend in the remake of King Kong.