The movie The Ring came out in 2002. It was a remake of a good Japanese horror film that improved on the original in almost every way. Its plot was based on urban legend: There is a videotape that, when you watch it, causes you to die seven days later. The film was successful because it held its trump card to the very end. Once that card is played, and you know how the tape kills you, the tension is dispelled.
Now we have The Ring Two, a not-scary exercise in providing explanations we didn’t ask for. If you haven’t seen The Ring, you might want to turn down your radio for two minutes.
We open with a high school boy who has watched the cursed tape. To save himself, he has to show it to someone else. This poor schlub has known the deadline for a week, but he procrastinated until the last three minutes. Why didn’t he just upload the thing on the Internet? After this stale opening, the movie wisely abandons the videotape conceit.
Once again, we meet Nancy Drew-like reporter Rachel Keller, Naomi Watts. She has fled Seattle for the small seaside town of Astoria. While working at the local paper, she hears about the boy’s death on the police scanner. Rachel uses her magical ability to infiltrate crime scenes, enter locked houses, etc., to sneak a peek inside the body bag. One look at the boy’s face, who has been literally scared to death, and she recognizes the handiwork of Samara.
Samara, you’ll recall, is the ghost of a little girl who drowned in a well. Now she wants to possess Rachel’s son, Aidan. To save him, Rachel must solve the mystery of Samara’s origin. It has something to do with water, which is always shot portentously. A toy horse seems important. And deer antlers.
Which leads to the scene everyone’s sure to be talking about. Rachel and Aidan’s car is attacked by a herd of computer-generated deer. The movie supplies no reason why the deer would do this, but I have a theory. I once saw a videotape where a hunter covered himself in deer urine. A ten-point buck charges out of the woods, rears up, and commences kicking the tar out of him. Was there deer pee on the car? The scene is so ludicrous, I found myself having real affection for it.
The Ring Two is only notable because it is part of the recent Hollywood trend of remaking Japanese horror, or J-Horror. Last year gave us The Grudge, about another female ghost with long black hair hanging over her face. Dark Water, based on another movie by Ring Two director Hideo Nakata, comes out this summer. J-horror could give new life to domestic horror films. But The Ring is a dry well. It’s time to stop pumping.
I saw The Ring Two yesterday. If I’m not back in seven days with another review, you’ll know why.
The Ring Two is playing at Kerasotes Showplace West. This and other theater and music reviews are available online at wfiu.indiana.edu. Reviewing movies for WFIU, this is Peter Noble-Kuchera.