And it almost was before the filmmaking even began. Naomi Watts was reportedly not pleased with the original draft of the sequel script, and the director vacated the project just weeks before principal photography was set to begin. R-Two seemed destined to drown. But with a healthy revision from screenwriter Ehren Kruger, the script was fixed to Watts' satisfaction, and a ringer was brought in to direct. Now with the director of the original Japanese masterpiece Ringu and its disastrous sequel Ringu 2 at the helm, could R-Two be a worthy sequel to one of the best American horror movies ever made?
R-Two picks up six months after The Ring's discovery of a mysterious videotape about a girl named Samara who brings unexplained deaths to the Seattle area. Watts reprises her role as Rachel Keller (Watts), the newspaper reporter who investigated the story and was subsequently tormented by it, who has moved with her son Aidan (David Dorfman) to the quiet oceanside town of Astoria, Oregon. Rachel takes a job with the small, local newspaper and feels the change will help them move on with their lives. At first, everything feels right; Rachel's new job is going well and Aidan has taken an interest in photography.
But the peace and tranquility is broken when Rachel uncovers an unusual teen homicide that has all of the familiar markings of the deadly videotape. Aidan begins having horrific nightmares and soon he becomes gravely ill. Suddenly, no matter where Rachel and Aidan go, Samara follows to wreak havoc. She appears on walls, in mirrors, and on Aidan's film. She even manifests herself as a deer in one of the film's most surreal moments. Looking for answers about Samara's return and Aidan's illness, Rachel embarks on another expedition (just as she did in the first film) for the clues that will unravel the final pieces of the mystery.
As sequels go, R-Two is much more accomplished than most. While it's not without shortcomings, it surprisingly succeeds at logically advancing the story and providing numerous, satisfying chills along the way. This time, we're given a greater insight into Samara's life; now understand why she acts the way she does and what she is looking for. In this Ring, the investigation is easier to follow and we're able to take a more active role in it.
One of the things that made The Ring so thrilling was its ability to maintain a high degree of suspense while never degrading itself with the familiar trappings of the horror genre. While Nakata's film is much brighter than the grayed-out, solemn look of the original, R-Two remarkably retains much of the same feel and tension of the first. R-Two dazzles us with visual effects that are both fascinating and shocking at the same time; our interest never waivers from the edge of our seats.
Unfortunately, R-Two's biggest failing is the ending. A seemingly natural resolution is bypassed for an extra 10-minute segment that is completely out of place with the smart, steadfast vision of the rest of the film. While this alternative ending does provide a sense of closure to the series and one final jolt, the symbolism it creates is comically constructed.
Watts certainly garners our attention, but her performance as a whole never really exceeds our expectations. And in a key role, Sissy Spacek returns to the horror genre 30 years after Carrie. But it's the young Dorfman who steals the show by displaying a talent that's beyond his years. His emotional control and expressions give Aidan a truly creepy persona.
Ultimately, R-Two proves its worth.
The DVD includes a mountain of extras, including a pile of deleted scenes, the Rings short film, tons of featurettes and making-of shorts, and more.
Aka The Ring 2.
Waiter, there's a woman in my gumbo.
Run time: 110 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th March 2005
Box Office USA: $75.9M
Distributed by: Dreamworks Distribution LLC
Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG, BenderSpink, MacDonald/Parkes Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 147
IMDB: 5.3 / 10
Director: Hideo Nakata
Screenwriter: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller, Simon Baker as Max Rourke, Elizabeth Perkins as Dr. Emma Temple, David Dorfman as Aidan Keller, Gary Cole as Martin Savide, Sissy Spacek as Evelyn, Ryan Merriman as Jake, Emily VanCamp as Emily, Kelly Overton as Betsy, James Lesure as Doctor, Daveigh Chase as Samara (archive footage), Kelly Stables as Evil Samara, Cooper Thornton as Father of Emily, Marilyn McIntyre as Mother of Emily, Jesse Burch as Male Reporter, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Young Evelyn
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