Guaranteed successes are difficult to find in Hollywood, but for the last four years, the horror genre has been the closest thing. They are cheap to make, and don’t require a big star to achieve success. You can look at a string of recent releases and see the pattern with films like “The Dawn of the Dead,” “The Grudge” and “The Ring.” Also worth noting is that these movies are all remakes, and there is only one thing Hollywood loves more than remakes.
“The Ring Two” seems like an easy success. In fact, it’s too easy. Naomi Watts returns to the character that made her famous three years ago as the mother with postpartem depression and a son that looks like Steve Buscemi. “The Ring” was a slick, slightly less creepy remake of the Japanese film “Ringu” that introduced American audiences to the Japanese style of horror filmmaking. Japanese horror is generally more visceral, choosing to take seemingly innocuous elements (horses, water, photos, videotapes) and subverting them through the metaphysical. This contradicts the boogeyman mentality western audiences have grown accustomed to through directors like Wes Craven with characters like Freddie Kruguer, Pinhead or Jason Voorhies.
Japanese horror films may be more about mystery and suspense than about horror. Suspense is what both “Ringu” and “The Ring” had in spades. The difficulty with suspense is that it is a lot more difficult to sustain than hockey masks or clawed prosthetics. At the end of “The Ring,” most of the mystery is gone, so how do you follow it up? How does the story continue when the mystery is solved?
In the case of “The Ring Two,” the story doesn’t continue. Not really. It instead recycles the original film and allows the little girl from the well to become the boogeyman she once stood in contrast to. The film is completely devoid of new ideas. The reintroduction of the mysterious videotape that kills people comes off as a gimmick now, more like a really crappy chain letter than a curse. Naomi Watts diligently tries to figure out why the little girl wants her son, but the plot takes too many leaps of logic to be believable to capture anyone’s interest.
“The Ring Two” lacks any real edge and doesn’t stretch the parameters of the first film in any way. Despite some hard work by both Naomi Watts and David Dorfman, as her son, the film is barely passable entertainment. This film perpetuates the idea that the month of March is the dumping ground for films not good enough for Oscars and too weak for a summer release. Avoid “The Ring Two,” unless you enjoy the curse of bad sequels.
Eric Osborn can be reached at [email protected]