March 28, 2005

The Ring Two

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Who wrote the rule that every horror movie, if even mildly successful, requires a sequel? Not wanting to break tradition, the movie that finally convinced you to make the switch from VHS to DVD, The Ring, has returned to theaters to frighten us with The Ring Two.

Unlike the majority of horror movie sequels, The Ring Two has kept it cast and crew mainly intact. This smart move brought back Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller, David Dorfman as highly perceptive but slightly spooky Aidan Keller and, most importantly, director Hideo Nakata the creator of The Ring and its Japanese inspiration, Ringu. As a result the people that helped make The Ring such a successful film, jell once again to make a good sequel. Hey, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

All of the elements that we loved in the original are present: the dark colors, the constant presence of water and, oh yeah, a really freaky girl with long hair that just will not stay in that well.

The plot once again revolves around Rachel and Aidan trying to escape the grasp of Samara who is played once again by Daveigh Chase. As an interesting side note, Chase is the same actor who plays Donnie Darko’s younger sister. By the start of this film, Rachel and Aidan have moved from Seattle to a small town as a way to deal with the stress caused by Samara and her dangerous tape. However, Samara isn’t finished with them. Not only has a reproduced tape killed someone in town and performed the recognizable face warp, Samara has now set her sights on a human to possess to perform her deadly deeds once again. Unfortunately for our protagonists; the lucky host turns out to be Aidan. As Aidan battles for control over his body and mind, Rachel is forced once again to use her investigative skills to find a way to thwart Samara once again.

The cinematic elements that made The Ring so effective are still present thanks to Nakata’s guiding hand. The colors and tones are dark and bland and all that water is still hanging around. Between the rain, the sea and the constantly gloomy sky the audience almost feels that it is with Samara in her dark damp milieu. Dorfman also maintains his spookiness in playing Aiden which only becomes better when the character starts to be possessed by Samara. Eventually Aiden becomes reminiscent of Damien from The Omen.

The Ring Two even provides a little comedy along with its scares. The best comic relief occurs when Gary Cole, the guy who played Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, appears as a realtor trying to sell off the Morgans’ old home. When Rachel inquires what occurred to the previous owners, he replies “Uhh, I think they bought a condo and moved to Phoenix.” Ha! Nice try Lumbergh.

However the film’s most enjoyable surprise that isn’t scaring the audience is the appearance of Sissy Spacek as Samara’s biological mother, Evelyn. It never hurts your film when you can get one of the queens of horror movies in your cast.

Like its predecessor, The Ring Two presents a plot that is hard to justify, however the audience is willing to forget that factor in the presence of its strong visual and cinematic effects. Unfortunately, The Ring Two simply cannot get over its ‘sequel’ nature. One of the key factors in The Ring’s success was the fact that it presented a plot and theme that was completely new and therefore presented itself with an aura of surprise. However this newness and tension is lost in the sequel where we are already familiar with the revelations of the first film. It doesn’t help matters that The Ring Two also conjures up comparisons with not only The Omen, but also Poltergeist.

Still, no other movie has made your TV seem so threatening and The Ring Two never ventures into the campy or incredibly predictable material. Since movies like this are always more scary in the theater The Ring Two is certainly worth checking out for any fan of it predecessor or anyone looking for a few good scares.

Archived article by Mark Rice
Film Editor