Don't worry if you haven't seen the spine-tingling original before you see the sequel.
Ring 2 doesn't make much sense either way, although this isn't necessarily a reason to
overlook it. If you're looking for a satisfactory explanation and conclusion to the very
clever premise of a cursed videotape causing viewers to die exactly a week after watching
it (unless they show it to someone else, who then must do the same, etc) you won't find it
here. You will, however, find plenty of intriguing conversation around the topic and some
beautifully executed scenes as the girlfriend of professor Ryuji (Sanada Hiroyuki)
launches her investigation into the powers of sinister spirit Sadako - the star of the
mystery tape. Although more visually polished than the first outing, this one suffers from
too many ideas being thrown around and not enough of them solidifying. While the cops and
journalists are trying to figure out Sadako we're also shown around psychiatric wards,
parapsychological explanations and experiments, spirit photography...anything that might
enhance the creepy concept is hurled into the mix but none of it really brings us any
closer to resolution. The feeling is that you've dropped into an information seminar on
the subject of cursed videotapes and everyone's giving their two bob's worth. That may be
too frustrating for many viewers but if you don't demand to know everything you can still
be quietly chilled by some of the set pieces pulled off by director Nakata Hideo. Overall
this is something of a disappointment but not the lame duck sequel it might have been.
The first film left us with a tantalising premise. A hot potato video: watch it, copy
it, pass it on . . . or die. And youíve only got seven days before the next person in
the chain views it, or itís off to the morgue with such a ghastly expression of
horror on your countenance that youíd scare the living daylights out of the undead.
The strangest thing about this strange and spooky saga is that the potential for
nerve-racking count-downs is hardly exploited. Failure to watch the voodooed video does
result in a fatality or two, but this is peripheral to a myriad of supernatural weirdness.
For those who missed the first film it will be particularly confusing, even though various
background tidbits are proffered as the sequel progresses. Again, the filmís
strength, its scariest element, lies in the ominous undertones. Although the first could
be accused of style over substance, the additional unworldly action here is
counterproductive. The aim is a nightmarish saga with an uncomfortably realistic edge; and
a blend of normalcy and the bizarre makes for the creepiest moments. Unlike many of these
macabre fantasies, it is not populated by opposing teams of The Sceptical and The
Credulous, and the characters react with a degree of realism in extraordinary
circumstances. The earnest doctor with his eminently reasonable theories should know
better, however. Legend dictates that the inhuman element will always stump a man of
reason. Towards the latter half the action descends into a tangled web of psycho-babble;
no doubt intended to obfuscate the lack of logical narrative. Neither film is the
chilling, horror masterpiece their cult success, and some critics, might have you believe.
They are, however, a far subtler shade of eerie than any teen-oriented slasher thatís
crept out of Hollywood for some time. |