Cast: Naomi Watts, David Dorfman, Simon Baker,
Elizabeth Perkins, Sissy Spacek
Although The Ring Two purports to be a horror picture
it is actually a feature-length advertisement for the benefits of
birth control. It asserts that, should a woman choose to birth a
child, she will endure postpartum depression, the humbling travails
of single-motherhood, the ever-watchful, misunderstanding eye of
Child Protective Services, possession of said child by evil spirits,
and the realization that, to make her child love her again, she
must first drown it in a bathtub. And what cosmopolitan gal wants
to deal with those inconveniences when she could be out sipping
Mexican martinis with her best buds and engaging in casual, protected
horizontal-mamboing with anything that wears a shell necklace? Take
it from The Ring Two, ladies, and be safe.
In attempting to pick up the pieces of a life shattered by ghostly
tomfoolery, Rachel Keller (Watts) and her son,
Aidan (Dorfman, who ceaselessly looks as though
he may burst into tears at the drop of a hat), relocate to Astoria,
Washington, where there’s no chance they’ll encounter
the tape from the first film. Only, within approximately a day of
relocating to Astoria, Washington, Rachel, who now works for the
small-time local paper, encounters the tape from the first film,
which has just caused the death of an American Eagle-garmented frat-boy
that no one—not even his parents—will miss. After destroying
the hilariously anthropomorphic videotape and hopefully freeing
Astoria, Washington, of supernatural menace (by the way, if you’ve
never seen The Ring and you don’t know, if you watch
the tape you die in seven days—not that that’s important
in this movie) she returns home to her annoyingly-aware son and,
in a kind world, the film would have ended at a cool 15 minutes.
But, because the world we inhabit is cruel and unforgiving, Samara
the vengeful ghost is alerted to the Kellers’ location by
Rachel’s destruction of the videotape and, in a plot decision
that derails the franchise and induces effects ranging from apathy
to slumber and back to apathy, begins to possess young Aidan. Rachel
then drives from location to location and has many short-yet-excruciating
discussions with many forgettable characters who inform her of exactly
how to put the kibosh on that silly possession business without
much complication at all. The highlights include Samara’s
mother (Spacek) gleefully extolling the virtues
of infanticide while using safety scissors. That is the only highlight.
And if you’re reading this review having already watched the
film, you probably don’t recall that part because you slept
through it or chose to fantasize about Naomi Watts’ lesbian
love scene in Mulholland Drive instead of paying attention.
Furthermore, there is a character named “Max Rourke”
(Baker) who is only worth mentioning because of
his unparalleled uselessness. If anyone out there manages to stay
awake through The Ring Two and can actually describe to
me how “Max Rourke” serves the story, I’ll personally
buy you a steak dinner, chew your steak for you, and transfer it
from my mouth to yours via French kiss so you can focus on basking
in the radiant magnitude of your accomplishment. Consider it a contest.
Suffice it to say, as The Ring Two ends (and I don’t
consider these spoilers because it isn’t a film worth watching)
Aidan is once again better than ever, the Samara threat once again
seems squashed, Rachel is drenched and her erect nipples are once
again visible through her shirt, and your interest in anything Ring-related
will, for the first time, be history (and I don’t mean the
good, Michael Jackson kind).
What The Ring Two lacks in quality it makes up for with
innumerable condemning problems. If those problems got organized
and formed a democratic body, they would elect “Stupid Fucking
Plot” as their President and Chief Delegate. Whereas The
Ring was built around the sinister and frighteningly timely
concept of a killer videotape and its pandemic dissemination, its
sequel hinges upon one of the most exhausted of horror clichés—possession.
Who even cares about possession? Anyone? The Exorcist nailed
it back in 1973 and it simply isn’t going to get any better.
While screenwriter Ehren Kruger (it’s fair
to say that I hate this man) could have explored and evolved the
concept of the first film in any number of potentially exciting
directions, he instead blended it with a separate and timeworn convention,
resulting in the production of a diluted and inferior creation.
In trying to capture the flavor of its predecessor, Kruger constructs
another mystery for Rachel to solve in order to save her son, then
allows her to solve it roughly 10 minutes later, effectively draining
all tension from the narrative. He also refuses to add depth to
any of the established characters, and seems to take sadistic pride
in introducing several new faces to the Ring universe who
may as well be Robosapiens for all the personality they exude. I
call attention once more to the “Max Rourke” character,
who seems to exist solely for body count purposes since no energy
is devoted toward establishing any sort of romantic or even humane
relationship between him and Rachel. Other heinous additions include
Dr. Emma Temple (Perkins, whom I had a huge crush
on in Big), who injects air into her underdeveloped neck just as
you think she might serve as a force of conflict, and Evelyn, Samara’s
mother, who is crazy just for the sake of being crazy and who openly
promotes the idea of women killing their children in order to prevent
them from being possessed by the dead (which sounds ludicrous at
first but actually makes a whole lot of sense when you truly consider
what she’s suggesting). These feeble characters then waste
an hour and a half of our time by consistently throwing themselves
into uninteresting situations, driving aimlessly, reciting trite
and awkward dialogue at the beginning of the movie that will clearly
be repeated during the movie’s climax for maximum dramatic
effect (a tactic ring-like in its vicious circularity), and not
committing spontaneous suicide immediately after the opening credits.
Most disappointing, and downright alarming, even, is the dearth
of fright found in The Ring Two.Nakata,
director of the original Japanese film, Ringu, provides
little in the way of disturbing imagery or disquieting color palette;
The Ring, of course, contained both in spades. Never in
my life would I have imagined that I’d be missing the utilitarian,
uninspired direction of Gore Verbinski, but I do.
Unbelievably, it seems that neither Nakata nor Kruger, both instrumental
in launching Ring-mania in their respective countries,
understand the elements that made the first film so effective. Instead,
they kill the metaphor of mass media being a deadly, inescapable
entity and focus on the plights of underwritten women and possessed
children, neither of which anyone is particularly keen on seeing.
They do, however, stage a compelling commentary concerning the difficulties
of motherhood in modern America. Watch in horror as Rachel tries
desperately to schedule a doctor’s appointment for her sick
child and as she defends her parenting abilities against a Child
Protective Services psychologist and wonder just how much Naomi
Watts is acting.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...