The Ring Two Review
By Shawn McKenzie 03/18/2005
Is it possible to make a decent scary sequel to a horror movie that I originally didn’t have much faith in otherwise? After seeing The Ring Two, the answer to that question would be…no.
Before I go into the synopsis of the feature film itself, I want to review the “prequel” to the movie, Rings. Jonathan Liebesman (director of the awful 2003 film Darkness Falls) directed this 16-minute short, and it is included with the Collector’s Edition version of The Ring. It tells the tale of a teenager named Jake (Ryan Merriman.) He is the newest member of a cult that worships “the tape.” The leader of this cult is Eddie (Justin Allen), who, along with another cult member named Vanessa (Alex Breckenridge), convinces Jake to watch the tape and see what happens. He instructs him to videotape everything that happens to him in the next seven days, or he will be killed. They want to see how long he can go before copying the tape and passing it to the next person. They also post their experiences on a website forum for others who have seen the tape. The person that Jake is supposed to pass the tape to is known as a “tail,” and that person is Timothy (Josh Wise.) Jake tries to pass the tape to Timothy, but he refuses. With only hours left to go on the seventh day, Jake desperately tries to find a sucker who will watch the tape before he is killed by it. He finds a girl at school named Emily (Emily VanCamp, Amy Abbott from the WB’s “Everwood”), who he had previously not paid any attention to, and begs her to come over to watch the tape. In the very last scene, we see that Emily is either part of the cult, or has been convinced to become part of the cult by Vanessa.
While the short isn’t as good as the first movie, it does have elements that make it chilling. Topped off with an intriguing mini-plot about the cult, it actually becomes creepy and makes you want to see the sequel. VanCamp’s eerie look in the last scene made me excited for the movie.
Unfortunately, that’s where the scary ends. The first scene of the sequel picks up right after where Rings leaves off. Jake has convinced Emily to come over and watch the movie. She thinks that they might make out or something before watching the tape, but he insists that she watches it. She puts the tape into the VCR while he goes into the kitchen and waits for her to watch it. He receives a phone call from Eddie and tells his friend that he will be safe, because it is three minutes to 11 PM, and if Emily watches the tape, he won’t be killed. Jake comes back into the living room and discovers that Emily played the tape, but she covered her eyes. Suddenly, the phone rings, the TV leaks water, and Samara (Kelly Stables; Daveigh Chase in archive footage) comes out of the TV and scares Jake to death. Meanwhile, investigative reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) has moved from Seattle to Astoria, OR, to start her life over with her young son Aidan (David Dorfman.) It has been six months since the events of the first movie, and she now has a job as a reporter with a local newspaper called the Daily Astorian. She hears a report over the police scanner about the mysterious death of a local high school teen. She rushes over to the boy’s house just in time to see the paramedics put Jake into the back of an ambulance in a body bag. Emily is okay, but she is freaked out and is going to the hospital herself. After sneaking into the back of the ambulance, Rachel checks out how Jake looks in the body bag. She sees that he has that frozen freaked out look that the victims of the first movie had, so she goes to the hospital to talk to Emily (not before the ghost of Samara grabs her hand though.) She asks Emily where the tape is, and then easily breaks into Jake’s house (just as she had easily gotten into the back of the ambulance.) Instead of destroying the tape then and there, Rachel decides to go into the middle of the woods and burn the tape. Somehow, by burning the tape, she transferred Samara from the tape to her TV at home, and now Samara wants to possess Aidan. When Rachel gets home, her creepy kid appears to be more creepy than normal. His body temperature has gone down, and he begins to call her “mommy” (normally, he just calls her “Rachel.”) Weird things start to happen, like the image of Samara appearing on his digital camera at a local fair, and an attack by a group of reindeer upon her car. When Aidan starts turning into Samara and back again, Rachel takes Aidan to the newspaper office and asks if they can stay at the house of a coworker named Max Rourke (Simon Baker.) She leaves Aidan at Max’s house to get some things, but while she is gone, weird things happen again. When Rachel gets back, she finds who she thinks is Aidan in the bathtub (she had put him there in hot water to raise his body temperature), but turns out to be Samara. She tries to drown Samara, but quickly realizes that she is actually drowning Aidan. Max mistakes this for abuse and insists that she take Aidan to the hospital. While there, Rachel meets with social worker Dr. Emma Temple (Elizabeth Perkins), who also thinks that Rachel has been abusing Aidan. Rachel wants to find out why Samara has been possessing Aidan, so she goes to the adoption agency that had housed baby Samara (Caitlin Mavromates) and tries to find the real mother of the dead girl (since Samara’s mother may be the only one who could tell Rachel how to rid Samara from Aidan’s body.) They tell her that the only people who know who Samara’s real mother is are the people who own the Morgan Horse ranch from the first movie. The realtor of the ranch, Martin Savide (Gary Cole), tells her that the owners bought a condo in Phoenix and are now gone. She finds a suitcase belonging to a young Evelyn (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Samara’s birth mother, who had been living in a convent. She had tried to drown Samara when the girl was a baby, and now she lives in the Silverdale Psychiatric Institution. Rachel visits Evelyn (Sissy Spacek), who tells her that she must kill Aidan to set Samara free from his body. Back in the hospital, Aidan disposes of Dr. Temple, using a mind-control trick, and leaves the hospital. He comes back to Max’s house, and Max is no help to Aidan either. When Rachel comes back to Max’s house, she realizes that she needs to follow Evelyn’s advice, because the kid is getting progressively more deadly, but she doesn’t know how to do it without killing Aidan completely.
Director Hideo Nakata, the director of Ringu (of which the first movie was the American remake of), also directed this movie. He also directed the sequel to Ringu, but when the director of the first Ring, Gore Verbinski, went onto fame and fortune as the director of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, I guess he was a little too expensive to do this sequel. Tapping Nakata to do the movie seems like the logical choice, but it ended up sucking badly.
First off, the whole thing had no suspense, since we already knew about the story from the first movie. I know that they tried to go in a different direction than the first one, but part of the thing that made the first movie so creepy was the fear of the unknown. I know that I had done a lot of comparisons in my review of the first movie to the crapfest known as FearDotCom, but it was actually scary, despite its PG-13 rating. This movie didn’t have any suspense or frights at all. In fact, as I was watching the screening, many people in the audience were laughing at parts that weren’t meant to be funny (especially the reindeer scene.) One part where Rachel is being chased by Samara looked like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies as the ghost was chasing her (I was afraid that Samara wanted her “precious” at one point.) The whole videotape storyline from the first movie goes away 30 minutes into it, reducing it to an Exorcist rip-off. Watts tries to be good, and Cole’s very brief appearance is amusing, but overall this movie was a waste of time for all involved. The fact that they used a great actress like Spacek for a role that could have been done by any character actress shows how terrible this movie was.
I have mixed feelings, because The Ring Two is so bad, yet Rings, the short that bridges the two movies together, is actually decent. I would recommend buying the Collector’s Edition of The Ring so that you can see Rings. Then when The Ring Two lands on DVD, borrow it from a friend and watch the first scene so you can see the conclusion of the short. After you watch it, you can stop the DVD and give it back to your friend, since the rest of the movie is a waste of time. As I said, it is most likely not possible to make a good sequel from a singularly good movie like The Ring. I really hope that they don’t attempt to try for a third one.
Rating for Rings:
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