Now, three years later, we're given The Ring Two, which is certain to make another mint... but it's far less deserving to do so. The Ring Two is an "original" work, written by Ehren Kruger, and not a remake of 1999's Ringu 2. Bad move, and one we should wonder about. With so many similar elements (the girl in the well is obsessed with her survivors, the young boy is channeling her anger), why would a standardized American Horror film need to be written. Also, in director Gore Verbinski's absence, Dreamworks actually obtained the directorial duties of original Ringu and Ringu 2 director Hideo Nakata!
So the question must be asked... with such an obvious pedigree... why is it that The Ring Two resembles Ringu so much less than the recent crop of Whoreywood horror films? The answer is far from black and white... the answer is solid green, as Whoreywood doesn't get the fact that "good" and well advertised vastly exceeds "bad" and well advertised.
Quickly dispensing in the promise that Rings had to offer like a half-consumed cola can on the freeway, The Ring Two begins with old Jake (Ryan Merriman) becoming Samara's dinner time dainty! Luckily for surviving Emily (Emily VanCamp), but unluckily for the audience, it just so happens that the last stand of the insipid Jake took place in the very Oregon town that The Ring's Rachel and Aidan fled to. Rachel is working for the Grand-ma-ma of all Boring newspapers, and the story of Samara quite literally reaches out and grabs her. Like John McClane in Die Hard 2, Naomi Watts' beautiful Rachel mutters a quick version of how-can-the-same-thing-happen-to-the-same-guy-twice, and begins a cheesy preparation for taking Samara over her knee and spanking her like a orange-headed step-child.
But does Samara really want to hurt Aidan and Rachel this time? Maybe she wants to be Aidan this time. Maybe... but the movie keeps changing its mind in a practice less akin to the surprise twist than the indecisive producer.
Much of the creepiness of The Ring is maintained here, and while Nakata manages to continue his brilliant atmospheric direction, and the acting (particularly in David Dorfman's varying Aidan) is steady, the outcome feels a little weak and calculated for shock value. Where The Ring was multi-layered and engrossing, The Ring Two gives us one linear story that must be padded out to its full 111 minutes. Not that I could ever take issue with spending time looking at Naomi Watts, but The Ring Two spends a lot of its time in an illogical "Hurry Up and Wait" mentality that drags us on and on until the credits sloth their way into view. And all the while Kruger writes in more and more made-up mythologies resembling the lesser sequels to Halloween.
Flashbacks of why Samara is... the way she is... remove ambiguity while forcing the audience to swallow something they rejected in lesser horror series. The villain's set-up of Rachel as an abusive mother unintentionally suggests that now Samara intends to defeat her victims Legally... and kids, if you had a difficult time taking the ridiculous notion of Horse Suicide from The Ring, imagine an entire flock of Kamikaze Deer (yes, dear, yes... deer ) with a serious mad-on for those Volvos who would dare traverse the Oregon forests!
However, as cheap as some of the scares are, the Special Make-up Effects (again credited to the great Rick Baker) are anything but. Further, Nakata does manage to keep that Ringu air of horrific atmosphere, and can still make you jump when he wants to. He makes the best of a weak and derivitive script, while still seeming not to have sold out in agreeing to film this experiment in anti-continuity. In conjunction with Nakata's knowledge of the feel of horror, Kelly Stables is fine as our villain (credited here as "Evil Samara", because the Daveigh Chase version was such a little SUGAR BEAR), and cuts a creepy swath when not being replaced by computer animation or archival footage from the first film. Cameo appearances by Elizabeth Perkins, Simon Baker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Gary Cole and, amazingly, Sissy Spacek don't hurt, but they make me wonder how desperate Dreamworks was to fill every small part with a star.
What hurts this film the most is the very presence of Hollywood, rather than Japan, in almost every part of the script. The potential is wasted on a talking-down to the audience (ruining any planned surprise for an intelligent viewer), and a lack of adherence to the K˘ji Suzuki mythology that made all the arms of the Ringu series so darned cool. This isn't a multi-layered tapestry of horrific urban legend... this is a Haunted House movie.
There are many good, and scary parts, even I can admit, but there are also those parts that give the reaction of undercooked liver being draped over the nose and mouth. You might have a good time with a scary movie on a Saturday Night, but it's not a compelling and intelligent Horror, but a familiar and used horror without the originality. Two and One Half Stars out of Five for The Ring Two... the ingredients are there but the soufflÚ has fallen flat. Remember this, true believers, if this one doesn't float your boat, there's always Ringu 2 out there for you to sink those third molars into. That's not to say I'm not glad, in some way, that I saw the film... I find something to like in every movie... except Zombie 5... I HATE Zombie 5! See you in the next deep, dark murky reel!