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IN SHORT: zzz. [Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language. 111 minutes]
Before we begin, since the beginnings of CrankyCritic.com ten years back it has been policy not to compare any film to its Source Material. You shouldn't have to read a book to understand a movie, and that goes equally for sequels and their predecessor films. That being said . . .
"Every one will suffer," goes a line from The Ring 2 which is quoted in this film's television commercial. "Ain't it the truth," replies Cranky. It was he and the audience he planted with doing the suffering, not the poor shlubs on the big screen. Cranky had two other reviewers on staff when The Ring was released. The writer that screened the original loved the thing, awarding it an almost perfect $9/ $10. We rarely see a sequel that comes anywhere near to its predecessor, but we did have hopes that The Ring 2 would, at minimum, yield a good jump out of the seat or two. The only reaction that moved our audience out of the seat was one good belly laugh and the roll of end credits, cueing the raid exit towards the rest room.
Gore Verbinski directed the American original, which adapted the Japanese phenomenon Ringu, created by Hideo Nakata. Nakata, hired to write and direct a sequel to his hit, has delivered a scareflick with nary a shiver; a film whose action can be described but not explained; a film which elicited more laughter from our audience than anything else and after-screening comments ranging from "stupid" to "retarded," all from you lucky lot who had been terrified by the first edition and came back expecting more.
And so it was said, in that 2002 edition, that there exists a videotape which, if you watch it, you will die. Now you're pretty much up to date.
Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) and her son Aidan (David Dorfman) now live in Astoria Oregon, having fled from the Seattle locale of the first film. Rachel is working at the local paper. Aidan is bad news waiting to erupt, and momma knows it. Rachel knows from police reports monitored at work, that another tape is circulating . . . gratuitous teen death, dontcha know . . . but the point is moot when Aidan takes terrifically ill and is hospitalized. All logical fingers point at an "obviously" abusive mom, which is the only clever bit in the new story. We're sorry to spill even that much, but that's how lacking this film is in "new" material. Even after Rachel explains what is going on to her boss Max Rourke (Simon Baker), in a scene which occurs far too late to kindle the interest of any novice, The Ring 2 remains so dependent on a viewer's knowledge of The Ring to deliver the back story that we found nothing to keep us interested. The Ring 2 does contain one shocking death and one impressive special effect but it's a big case of too little too late.
What the film does provide is the return of Sissy Spacek to the genre, as a mental patient who may hold the key to defeating Samara Morgan (Kelly Stables), the vicious tyke who appears to be greatly in need of a bath. Actually, she's "all wet" for a reason already known to the initiated, one which plays a big part of the Third Act confrontation which we won't spoil.
We can't even write enough yadda yadda to stretch this review out to a more formidable length. We entered the theater expecting to be scared silly but, like last year's adaptation of another Japanese horror phenomenon called The Grudge, were bored senseless. Reread the viewer comments in the second paragraph and save your cash.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Ring 2, he would have paid . . .
and worth every cent. It is, without a doubt, the Worst of the Year, so far. The year's early.
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