Ring 2

Starring: Naomi Watts and Simon Baker
DreamWorks Home Entertainment

RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 August 2005

Rachel, the young mother from Ring, and her son start a new life away from their recent horrors. However, it isn't long before she hears about the curious death of a teenage student. When she sees his hideous contorted features she learns that copies of Samara's cursed videotape are more widespread than she thought. When her boy starts to act differently towards her, and a string of eerie or supernatural events take place around them, Rachel realises that he is possessed by Samara. How can she cast out Samara when the dead girl hears everything and their only privacy is in sleep...?

Let me start by clarifying the fact that this is the US version of the first Ring sequel. Again, director Hideo Nakata is back to 'Hollywoodise' his films for what amounts to a very short-sighted American audience, who apparently in many cases will not watch a film if it doesn't contain an American actor and an English-speaking language. Nakata probably doesn't care, he's making lots of money out of the projects.

However, whereas the US version of Ring followed its Japanese predecessor, Ringu, virtually frame for frame, scene by scene, this US sequel has quite a few plot differences from the East Asian original. This is more about possession than the continuation of Samara's (why couldn't they have stayed with Sadako like in the Japanese films?) curse, her attempts to find a way back from death through the boy. But what makes him different to any other youngster? In other words, why hasn't she (to our knowledge) attempted this before. This is a weak and overused plot device, as is the loose back story of the thwarted baby-drowning episode. The problem with changing an established plot too much is that it often leaves as many holes as a Swiss cheese.

Another example of this is the scenes with the deer, which is quite fun to watch but ultimately makes no sense. When the boy is at a fair (or whatever it is!) he notices some antlered deer in the distance staring at him. When they are driving home a lone buck purposely walks into the road. Although the boy urges his mother to keep going, she skids to a stop. The buck looks closely at him, before a dozen or so others emerge from the trees and begin savagely attacking the car. The deer are very professionally realised in CGI because apparently at the time of making the film all the real deer were in the process of shedding their antlers preparatory to growing new ones. The purpose of the scene is to explain that animals can see the dead, and see Samara in the boy. However, if this is the case, why is it no dogs or cats (or any other animal) was seen to react to him in any way.

There's a handful of extras on the disc, including trailers, deleted scenes and some behind-the-scenes featurettes, but the best on offer is Rings, a short fictional film showing a group of students trying to research what happens to a cursed individual during the seven days between watching the video and their ultimate death. As the main, unwilling subject for study is the student seen at the start of the main Ring 2 film, it's worth watching this 15 minute short before the main feature. I personally enjoyed it more; there's bags more tension and suspense than in the film (and it gains an extra point for this review).

Perhaps it might have been wiser to expand that concept and to forget this unimaginative possession story. Better still, save your money and instead buy the excellent remastered Japanese Ring Trilogy released by Tartan Asia Extreme. It even contains Sleeping Bride, another film by the same director, which is worth the money alone.

Ty Power

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