- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

“The Ring,” 2002’s overrated but creepy affair based on the 1998 Japanese film “Ringu,” had the advantage of wowing audiences weaned on mindless Jason/Freddy/Michael fests.

It also spawned a rash of horror films featuring partially obscured children with unkempt hair and milky pallors.

Now, inevitably, we get “The Ring Two”

title is cq, per imdb.coms shock value is yesterday’s news.

While lesser horror sequels like the “Nightmare on Elm Street” installments offer built-in thrills (just how will Freddy dispatch our pulchritudinous heroines this time?) all “The Ring Two” can muster is an angry mob of deer and one too many rerun frights.

That’s too bad, because rare is the horror franchise told with the level of craft, and lack of bloodletting, we get with these “Rings.” Nor do all horror films have gorgeous heroines like Naomi Watts who can act rings around any scream queen since Jamie Lee Curtis.

The film’s producers tried one noteworthy wrinkle for the sequel. Hideo Nakata, who directed “Ringu,” takes over for Gore Verbinski. However, Mr. Nakata’s handiwork looks like every other American effort, neatly packaged but lacking any of the elements that make the international handoff worthwhile.

Miss Watts returns as Rachel, the journalist who watched a cursed videotape promising death seven days later for those who view it.

The original “Ring” followed Rachel as she investigated — and solved — the tape’s origins before her time ran out. Here, both Rachel and her otherworldly son Aidan (David Dorfman) have moved to a new city to leave those horrors behind, but evil spirits apparently possess global positioning system (GPS) tracking. It doesn’t take long for a “Ring”-like death to strike Rachel’s new neighborhood, tipping her off that her flight didn’t escape the sinister spirit’s notice.

That spirit, a little girl murdered by her parents, now wants to inhabit the body of poor Aidan.

Miss Watts registers the mandatory fear and loathing toward the deathly pale girl, while her screen son remains a calculated figure meant to tease the plot along without resembling an actual child.

The whole concept that those who watch the bewitched videotape (and shouldn’t we be talking DVD by now?) die seven days later is gone in “The Ring Two.” So, too, is any rhyme or reason behind the spirit’s wrath toward Rachel and Aidan.

Modern horror movies ultimately fail us by introducing all-powerful evils who nonetheless take their sweet time eliminating the good guys. It’s like those arrogant Bond villains who — to paraphrase “The Incredibles” — monologue themselves silly, thereby giving the good guys time to escape.

Even with that handicap, “The Ring Two” makes us jump a time or two, especially at the thought of Sissy Spacek demeaning herself with the kind of twitchy, affected cameo well beneath an Oscar-winning actress.

The screening audience chuckled when, near the film’s conclusion, a character muttered, “it’s over.”

Yeah, right. Horror movies today never end. They simply pause long enough for another sequel to fly into production.

Expect more “Rings,” with or without Miss Watts or any cogent reason for the “Ring” girl’s return.


WHAT: “The Ring Two”

RATING: PG-13 (Violence, disturbing imagery and coarse language)

CREDITS:Nakata. Produced by Walter F. Parkes and Lauie McDonald. cwLaurie MacDonald. Screenplay by Ehren Kruger.

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes




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