The Reel View: The Ring Two

The Reel View
The Ring Two
by James M. Gullard

Everyone knows the story of "The Ring" by now. An abused child named Samara has somehow created a videotape from beyond the grave that will kill the viewer seven days after they watch it. In "The Ring Two," director Hideo Nakata (of the original "Ringu" films) throws all of this out, opting for a new direction.
The sequel picks up where the previous film left off. Reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) has left Seattle in favor of Astoria, OR. Hoping that the new environment will help her, as well as her son Aidan (David Dorfman), forget the tragedies of the first film, she takes a job at a local newspaper. Things seem to be looking up for the family. Rachel even begins to fall for fellow co-worker Max (Simon Baker). However, it wouldn't be a horror film unless something disrupts their peace.
Rachel learns of a death involving a teenager and a videotape. All of a sudden, all of Rachel's fears have returned. Samara is back, wreaking havoc on those stupid enough to watch a tape that supposedly kills you.
Rachel takes matters into her own hands in an attempt to put an end to Samara's evil deeds. Finding a copy of the tape, she destroys it. But she is a long way from relief. It seems that Samara does not appreciate what Rachel has done and decides to seek revenge by taking over Aidan's body and claiming it for her own.
Rachel feels that the only way to save her son is to once again research the painful life of Samara. She visits Samara's birth mother (Sissy Spacek), who informs her that the dead do not sleep, and that the only way to save Aidan is while he is sleeping. Meanwhile, Rachel must also convince a concerned doctor (Elizabeth Perkins) that Aidan's physical problems are not a result of abuse on her part.
If the story seems a bit on the uneven side, that is because it is. Director Nakata, making his first American feature, does not seem to know which direction he wants his film to take. Having abandoned the videotape premise, he searches for other ways to keep the viewer interested. He attempts this mainly by repeating many of the scares of the first film, most notably a scene where, once again, Rachel is attacked by animals (this time, it is a group of deer in a scene reminiscent of the baboon sequence from "The Omen").
The acting also drifts toward the uneven side. Naomi Watts (who was fantastic in the first film) appears unsure of what she is even doing in the movie. However, she at least gives the role a shot, unlike young David Dorfman, whose one facial expression (a mixture of confusion and boredom) never leaves, no matter what the scene is.
Many horror fans may flock to "The Ring Two" based solely on the fact that Hideo Nakata took over the directorial duties. If this is the case, there are bound to be plenty of people disappointed in the Japanese horror wizard. They may be better off renting Gore Verbinski's version of the first film.
"The Ring Two" will be available on DVD on August 23.