Mediocre return of ‘The Ring’

By Allan Mendiola

By Allan Mendiola

Everyone can rest assured: no one will die seven days after seeing “The Ring Two,” the sequel to the hit 2002 horror film starring Naomi Watts.

This is not to say that “Two” is a great horror film, because it is not. Although it does have a few suspenseful and intriguing moments, “Two” is pale in comparison to the first “Ring.” If compared to the first “Ring,” “Two” is perhaps about as pale as the face of the villain from both films.

“The Ring Two” opens much like the first “Ring”: two teens discussing a mysterious, yet incredibly infamous video tape, one which will kill anyone who watches it in exactly seven days. The vengeful evildoer in the deadly tape, Samara, is back from the first film, and she is obviously still stark raving mad. Once our heroine from the first film, Rachel (Watts), finds out, it is up to her to destroy the tape and figure out why Samara is still on a rampage.

It becomes all the more important for Keller to investigate Samara’s origins when it appears as though Samara is haunting Keller’s young son, Aidan, played again by David Dorfman.

“The Ring Two” includes many of the ingredients common of the horror genre: a screaming heroine; a creepy, slithery “monster” and a potential victim who calls out “hello?” or “is anyone there?” in a darkened, seemingly empty house. The filmmakers even managed to cast a star of a 1970s horror classic in a small, yet pivotal role (hint: her prom was a total bloodbath).

One particularly memorable and visually interesting scene from the film occurs when Keller is driving down a road and she is bombarded by a group of “mad” deer. This was probably one of the most bizarre moments in the film.

In terms of the driving story of “The Ring Two,” though, nothing groundbreaking or particularly special is brought to the table. The issue of the importance of being a good mother carries over from the first “Ring” to “Two” in a big way. The fact that Aidan still awkwardly calls his mother “Rachel” instead of “mom” or “mommy” clearly suggests that maybe our heroine did not learn her lesson from the first film.

The question of Keller’s competency as a mother is explored well when a doctor accuses her of abusing Aidan (in reality, he was being “abused” by Samara). There are a lot of thought provoking, underlying implications about motherhood in this film. Yes, believe it or not, horror films do dig into deep social and psychological issues from time to time.Unfortunately lacking in “The Ring Two” is the sense of dire urgency that made the first “Ring” particularly thrilling. In “The Ring,” there was a drastic race against time to figure out what is going on before the heroine’s seven days were up. There was a strong sense of intensity and anxiety made in the first “Ring” with how it boldly “counted down” to the heroine’s seventh day. “Two” lacks that intensity.

Die-hard horror fans might also be disappointed by the lack of all-out, bloody, scare-a-minute thrills. The faces on Samara’s terror stricken victims do look particularly horrifying though, at least for a PG-13 rated film.

Even though the concluding “battle” between good and evil is considerably high on thrills, the “resolutions” made to get the movie to a proper end did not make much sense. Naturally, this is the part of the movie where our heroine delivers the customary, bold one-liner to the “monster,” which is oh so common in horror films.

While Watts is indeed a terrific actress (see her Oscar-nominated turn in “21 Grams” for proof), “Two” does not exactly give her much to work with.

Despite the involvement of Hideo Nakata, visionary director of both Japanese “Ringu” moves, the sequal to the American remake fails to truly entertain as the first one did.