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The Ring 2 (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Rings: short film that reveals the secret and terrifying connection between The Ring and The Ring Two. Deleted and Alternate Scenes. Imagination in Focus (Hideo Nakata and the horror genre). Samara: From Eye To Icon. The Haunting of The Ring Two. HBO First Look: The Making Of The Ring Two. Regions 2/4.

MOVIE sequels tend to re-hash the same formula with diminishing returns, so it is always refreshing to find something that tries to do things a little bit different.

The Ring 2, a follow-up to Gore Verbinski's sleeper hit of 2002 (which was, in itself, a remake of Japan's most popular horror movie), does exactly this, furthering the story in suitably creepy fashion.

What's more, it does so with the help of director, Hideo Nakata, the man responsible for all three Japanese versions, who brings his own distinct vision to the Hollywood horror market.

Picking up six months after the events of The Ring, the film begins as a nervous high school student attempts to force a gullible girl into watching the video that caused so much distress in the first place - only to see the attempt backfire.

Enter Naomi Watts' investigative reporter, Rachel Keller, who thought she had seen the last of the video tape when she moved with her son, Aidan (David Dorfman), from Seattle to Oregon.

Distressed to find out that a new tape exists, she steals it and destroys it, believing she has prevented the vengeful Samara from emerging from it ever again.

But her actions merely place her and Aidan back within the dead girl's reach and Samara quickly possesses Aidan in a bid to exact revenge for the wrongs committed by her own neglectful mother.

The ensuing tale plays out like a cross between The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby, as Rachel bids to understand Samara's motivations and coax her from her son.

That it works as well as it does is due largely to the dedicated performances of its cast and the wonderful imagination of director, Nakata, who contributes a number of stand-out set pieces.

An early sequence involving an attack on Rachel's car by a herd of deer is especially effective, while a bathroom scene, in which Rachel battles Samara while her son is bathing, is no less impressive.

Both ought to have viewers jumping out of their seats given the clever way in which they are orchestrated.

Elsewhere, the inherently creepy tone is sustained by the intensity of the performances, whether it be Watts (who looks perpetually scared), Dorfman (possessed and creepy), or the likes of Elizabeth Perkins (who cameos as a nurse with a needle) and Sissy Spacek (as Samara's institutionalised mother).

The only real weak point is Ehren Kruger's lightweight script, which occasionally seems to be struggling to sustain the momentum late-on.

Yet given Nakata's presence behind the camera such flaws don't appear as striking given the director's ability to toy with his viewers' imaginations.

So while it may lack the originality of its predecessors, Ring 2 still possesses enough about it to prevent audiences from feeling that they are merely going round in circles.

Editor's note: The Ring: Special Edition DVD includes a 15-minute short film that serves to bridge the gap between the original and the sequel. It's well worth checking out to understand better the relevance of the Ring 2's opening sequence.


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