What can someone say about The Ring Two? Other than the fact that calling a film, not “The Ring 2” and not “The Ring: Chapter Two,” but merely The Ring Two is an odd decision? Although I may not have raved up and down for The Ring film, I enjoyed it a fair amount. The film felt like an atmospheric and classic ghost-story revised for a more modern era. The concept was unique and fun, and audiences clearly enjoyed it. Thus, it was no surprise that a sequel was given the green light and arrived in theaters three years later. No longer directed by Gore Verbinski, the film was instead directed by Hideo Nakata. Hideo is significant because he is actually the director of the 1998 Japanese film called Ringu, in other words, the original film that Gore Verbinski and crew remade years after.
The idea that Hideo Nakata is at the front line of the film and its creation could inspire a certain level of confidence in you, but that is something that does not really hold a lot of merit upon inspection. For starters, how many of you have seen the original film? Maybe some of you. Maybe a lot of you. How many of you enjoyed it more than the 1998 original film over the remake? Again, maybe some of you. Maybe a little less of you.
Regardless, the director is not the actual mastermind behind The Ring series, that is writer Koji Suzuki who wrote a Trilogy in that world. That is more appealing in my opinion. The fact that Suzuki wrote a second and third novel suggests the series has something else on its mind, and that this won’t be a film company trying to squeeze water from a stone or, ahem, going back to the well, one too many times. Unfortunately, whereas the Japanese sequel film Rasen adapted Sukuzi’s novel (only to release an original Ring 2 film after a poor response), The Ring Two is not an adaptation.
Screenwriter Ehren Kruger writes the story for The Ring Two after previously doing the screenplay for the original film, his other credentials include The Skeleton Key, Scream 3, and the first sequel to Transformers. I will admit, none of what is mentioned inspires a lot of confidence in his work, but I was willing to approach this film with an open-mind.
The film was released to negative reviews from critics but remained a success at the box office, grossing $164 million from a $50 million production budget. This would be a cause of celebration for about any other horror film. Unfortunately, The Ring Two simply cost a lot to make. Comparing it to The Grudge‘s paltry $10 million production budget, the return on investment speaks volumes about why it took as long as it did for a third Ring film and why that film’s budget was cut in half.
Set six months after the previous film, Rachel and her son Aidan (played once more by Naomi Watts and David Dorfman, respectively) may have destroyed the tape, but they still find themselves pursued by the evil demon Samara that cursed it. Only now, Samara is determined to possess her son. The film has a runtime of about 110 minutes (or 128 minutes for the unrated version – which is the one I watched) which makes it about the same length as the first film, take a handful.
I found myself very underwhelmed by this film. Obviously, I went into The Ring Two with modest expectations in mind. I write my review a decade and a half after the film’s release, and so, I knew the film had not been well received. However, I was not prepared for what was wrong with this film. I could have accepted if the film was over-the-top or outlandish, and that is why everyone disliked it. What is a lot more difficult to accept is when a film is boring and bland.
Nothing happens in The Ring Two. Or, well, I mean, things happen, … a lot of things happen, but nothing distinct and nothing memorable to speak of. In truth, even the original film might have overstayed its welcome with its surplus runtime, but that film had a new concept and a new idea, and thereby, it felt warranted in that respect. By now, moviegoers are familiar with Samara and the hand she was dealt. Her character alone did not have enough depth or layers to peel back to justify a sequel. In order for The Ring Two to work, you would need to do something different.
Instead, everything that does not feel like a rehash of The Ring, feels pedestrian and paint-by-the-numbers. The subplot with Samara possessing Aidan feels too familiar and the subplot with everyone thinking Rachel might be responsible for the bruises on Aidan’s person feels like nothing more than events meant to pad the runtime to a feature length.
Whereas the first film did not have a lot of scares or Rachel fighting for survival against Samara in an adrenaline-fueled chase, it had an ace in the hole because of its conflict and the mystique surrounding it. This film does not have that. The cat is out of the bag and, not to confuse metaphors, but there are no rabbits left in the hat to pull out.
The film is dull, ripe with horror cliches and nonsense absurdities, and more than sparking disdain or another strong emotion, it sparks no real emotion at all.