The Ring Two (2005)
Directed by Hideo Nakata

Artistic Value: * *
Entertainment Value: * * ½

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Shortly after the events of The Ring, Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) and her son move to a small town somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. There, Rachel learns about a mysterious death that she realizes must have occurred as a result of the victim's having watched the videotape around which the previous story revolved. The heroine's troubles grow worse, however, when it becomes apparent that Samara, the ghostly girl behind this tape, wants to live again in Rachel's son's body.

Hideo Nakata's The Ring Two is a reasonably entertaining film, although it is never inspired and is burdened with a number of problems.

Perhaps the movie's single worst shortcoming is that it is never particularly frightening. The director simply fails to conjure up that sense of pervasive eeriness with which Verbinski's work was suffused. There are several creepy incidents, and numerous cheap thrills, but the feelings these arouse are not sustained. Actually, there are a few scenes that, I suppose, were meant to be frightening, but which entirely miss the mark. At one point, for example, while driving through a forest, Rachel and her son are attacked by a gang of deer, who batter their car and try to intimidate the pair. The whole routine is funnier than it is scary.

The Ring Two's inability to disturb the moviegoer is undoubtedly compounded by its frequent failure to make sense. The death with which the film begins, which made the protagonist aware that Samara is up to her old shenanigans again, is quickly forgotten. Rachel does continue the investigation into the dead girl's past that she began in the earlier movie, but the details included here seem cobbled together and arbitrary. Samara's aversion to water is entirely forced. Her ability to control deer is based, I think, on her adoptive parents' having stored antlers in their basement, and her other supernatural powers, which have, apparently, expanded considerably, seem to be derived from the screenwriter's need to have devices by which the narrative he has concocted can be moved forward. Even the dialogue often descends into gibberish. Suffice it to say, none of these elements are conducive to creating an aura of unearthly terror.

The director has, however, included a few special effects sequences that are appealing. In one, he shows streams of water rising up from a bathtub to coalesce in an impossible puddle on the ceiling above. In another, he reveals waters flowing horizontally through the air to form a pool upon a wall, and, in still others, he presents the viewer with images of Samara moving in a digital photograph, of the dead girl emerging from a television screen, of her crawling up the interior of a well with jumpy, unnatural motions, or of something else equally creepy. Sadly, such moments merely punctuate a largely pedestrian film. Consequently, while parts of the movie are effective at eliciting feelings of fear, as a whole it is not especially horrific.

The Ring Two is rarely truly dreadful, but it is never especially good. The viewer will likely enjoy watching it, but it is unlikely that he will remember much of it after it has ended.

Review by Keith Allen

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