If nothing else, The Ring Two is a better film than the original Ring, if only because it doesn’t have as much puzzle left unexplained. This time, its genre is not a mystery film, but instead is one of actual horror. As a result, the film’s tone is likely to stay more consistent, and you’ll find yourself being scared more often. You won’t have to constantly question what’s going on or why things are happening, and instead can focus on the scares.
The Ring Two enters where the first film left off. Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), and her son Aidan (David Dorfman) have decided to move away from Seattle because it reminds them too much of what happened earlier. They move to a small town in Oregon, and Rachel gets a job with the local newspaper. Somehow, one of the tapes from the first film has made its way to this town, and a local teenager is killed. Rachel finds out about it, and realizes that Samara (Kelly Stables) has found them.
Then, Aidan starts having bad dreams, and Rachel starts seeing things that may or may not actually be there. Samara is definitely back, although it’s not initially clear what she wants. So the goal this time around is not to figure out how to prevent death, but to find out how to silence Samara eternally. This is far more interesting than in the first film, because it allows scares to be set-up and few questions for the screenwriter to have to answer.
There are still some questions I have though. The first is why Aidan is still such a terrible child. Even Rachel is questioning this time, as she, at one point, asks him why he never calls her “mom.” He responds by saying that “Rachel” fits her personality better. When he has a bad dream and sees Samara there, he screams. Rachel comes to him, and asks him what happens. He responds that he’s had a nightmare, but won’t get into the details. He sees Samara again and gives the same response. He’s not a good child, which was one of the reasons I kind of hoped he wouldn’t make it through to the end.
At one point in the film, he gets possessed by Samara — for reasons I won’t explain. And then he’s the model child. He becomes grateful just to spend time with her, he calls her “mommy”, and is overall a nice kid. This one section is better than the entirety of the first film, because it had one of its characters actually be a good person, and it showed that David Dorfman can play a non-creepy child, which is something I wasn’t sure of the first time around.
In The Ring Two, you get to focus on the horror element, instead of always trying to figure everything out. You don’t have to constantly wonder why things are happening, and why the film isn’t telling you the reason, and instead get to become immersed in the story about a little girl who is having fun haunting a couple of people. Some back story is given, and it helps us comprehend Samara’s motivations, but it still doesn’t aid in understanding the first film. But by this point, I had stopped caring and decided to just enjoy myself.
When you get right down to it, that’s the reason you watch a horror film. You want to become scared, and you want to enjoy being scared. The Ring Two, unlike the first film in this series, provides those thrills frequently. It’s actually enjoyable, and, once again, you don’t get bogged down in trying to figure out why everything is happening, and why these characters make the decisions they do. It’s all laid out for you here, while all other details are unimportant.
The characterization, just like the first film, is quite weak. Samara continues to be the most interesting character, and the film plays to this. She’s the only character that gets a back story or any real personality, which is probably for the best. We want to see more of her and her tortured past, and there’s something inside of us that wants to see her get her way. Since we find out what she’s endured, and why she continuously wants to haunt these specific people, we actually feel sorry for her, almost more than our leads.
The Ring Two was directed by Hideo Nakata, who directed the fist couple of Ringu films in Japan, the ones that the first Ring was based on. Here, he gives the film the same sense of atmosphere than Gore Verbinski gave us in the first film, but since there are more scares to be had, it works even better. The film is also paced wonderfully; the unrated version lasts just over two hours. But it didn’t seem that long, coming and going faster than I thought it would, unlike the first film, which felt too long.
When you get right down to it, The Ring Two still isn’t a great film. But it’s much better than the first film because it’s not a mystery film masquerading itself as horror. This one gives you scares, and doesn’t make you question it over and over, which results in something that’s far more enjoyable. I liked getting more information on Samara, and, like the original, I appreciated the atmosphere. Since there are more scares this time, and because it didn’t feel like it was overstaying its welcome, I had a pretty good time.