Hideo Nakata's English-language feature debut, the sequel to THE RING (2002), brings the circle of influence back where it began: Nakata's 1998 RINGU unleashed J-Horror on the West and paved the way for an insidious invasion of grudges, fatal phone calls and malevolent little girl ghosts. Like RINGU 2 (1998), RING TWO attempts to take the story in a different direction, rather than delivering the same crowd-pleasing shocks to different characters. But its focus on the relationship between fiercely protective Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) and her imperiled son, Aidan (David Dorfman), is surprisingly dull. Part of the problem is that anyone who's seen THE RING (most of the sequel's audience) never doubts that her most erratic-seeming behavior is utterly justified by the circumstances, but it's exacerbated by the curse of the commercially desirable PG-13 rating. Horror defanged is horror denied. Seattle newspaper reporter Rachel learned first-hand that the urban legend of the lethal videotape was more than just a spooky story. Having saved herself and her son from vicious ghost child Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase), whose tormented spirit spawned the cursed tape, Rachel has relocated to sleepy small-town Astoria, Ore., in search of a fresh start. David is still haunted by nightmares, and the vastly overqualified Rachel has trouble fitting into the rhythms of the tiny "Daily Astorian," where school-board meetings are big news. But that's small stuff: The news that one local teenager is dead under bizarre circumstances and another so traumatized she can't speak tips off Rachel that copies of the tape are still circulating and Samara's curse is as powerful as ever. David falls ill, complaining he's cold while waking up in a drenching sweat, and Rachel quickly deduces that Samara is trying to possess her son. Unfortunately, Rachel's frantic efforts to drive Samara out look an awful lot like child abuse to her new neighbors. As David grows sicker and suspicions about Rachel's intentions taint her every effort to help him, she dives headlong into Samara's past in hopes of uncovering the roots of the child's supernatural malice. Working from a screenplay by RING screenwriter Ehren Kruger, Nakata evokes a compelling sense of menace lurking beneath the surface of everyday life. But a little Keller-family Sturm und Drang goes a long way. Rachel's Nancy Drew-ing feels oddly perfunctory, and one-scene guest star Sissy Spacek packs enough genuine madness into her brief screen time to make the surrounding film feel like so much listless play-acting.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Hideo Nakata's English-language feature debut, the sequel to THE RING (2002), brings the circle of influence back where it began: Nakata's 1998 RINGU unleashed J-Horror on the West and paved the way for an insidious invasion of grudges, fatal phone calls a… (more)