The Ring Two (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
The “unrated edition” of the long-awaited, somewhat disappointing sequel to “The Ring” delivers a respectable amount of special features, but its title is nothing more than suggestive marketing. There’s nothing in this version of the film that would have engaged a rating higher than the MPAA’s “R” judgment on the original film. Some new scenes have been inserted (mostly character-driven moments), along with the occasional re-seaming of editing and music… but “The Ring Two” in this cut is still a creepier version of the ubiquitous possession story, more evolved but less frightening than its predecessor.
Naomi Watts and David Dorfman are back as Rachel and her son Aidan, and insomuch as characters are concerned, they deliver honest progressions from the first film to the second. The story picks up six months after the conclusion of “The Ring,” during which Rachel has picked up her life and moved it to rural Oregon in an attempt to distance herself from the horrifying events of the first film. But it’s not long before another mysterious death is traced back to an unmarked videotape, and as Rachel investigates, she discovers that Samara’s intentions are far more focused than before: Samara’s mad, and this time she’s after Aidan.
The protective mother syndrome provides a feral twinge to Rachel – she’s more fearless than in the original film, having walked this path before. And writer Ehren Kruger (who also penned the original film) offers up a new twist to the story in the apparent possession of the boy. But while this plot is new to “The Ring,” it’s not new to horror audiences. In fact, the plot rapidly dwindles from intriguing to drawn out to an absolute bore whose only marked difference from celluloid possession lore is the absence of a priest and a big ol’ cross slapped on Aidan’s forehead.
Nevertheless, the film is stylishly produced, and the extra moments added for this “unrated” version, while depressingly not shocking or lewd, still add to the piece. It’s adroit filmmaking, and the chills transfer to the small screen well enough – but I’d still recommend that you watch the film late at night, alone in your house, with the lights off… and preferably with a television on the fritz that will deliver signal interruption and white noise occasionally during the viewing. Nothing freaks a “ring” fan out more than a monitor with bad manners.
There are several featurettes on the making of the film – by far the best is the HBO produced “First Look,” which traces the production as a teaser. The others – “Fear on Film”, “Faces of Fear” and “Samara” – are somewhat less interesting, although I was riveted by the fact that they hired a contortionist to perform Samara’s ultra-spooky climb up the well. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to meet that chick in a bar, long hair or not.
You’ve also got filmmaker’s biographies, cast biographies – hardly interesting – but a curious lack of commentary. One would think that at least Walter Parkes or Hideo Nakata would talk, but then, that might be shelved for the “Unrated Widescreen Super-Dooper Version.”
By far, the most interesting item on the DVD – and I’m including the movie here – is the short film that was filmed to bridge between “The Ring” and “The Ring Two.” It’s entitled “Rings” – and it’s among the scariest fifteen minutes you’ll spend in your life. It’s innovative, visceral filmmaking at its best, and produces a far more interesting derivation of the Ring mythology than does the full sequel. It alone is worth the purchase of the DVD – you’ve got to watch it.