Samara is back, Jack! Following the events of the first film, Rachel and Aiden Keller move to Oregon to start anew. It’s not long though before the rapidly spreading video virus finds them again and Aiden is possessed by Samara hoping to regain a physical form. Can Rachel battle to save her son and put Samara to rest before it’s too late? Find out in… The Ring Two.
What?! We pick up about 6 months after the events of the first film. Rachel and Aiden have moved to a small Oregon town where Rachel takes over as editor of the local paper. Everything seems to be going well until a report comes in about a disturbing death of a local teen. It sounds eerily similar to Samara’s MO, which Rachel confirms by going to the scene of the crime. Oh no! She’s found them! The next night Aiden dreams of Samara and is totes possessed by her. When Aiden starts to show serious health concerns related to demonic possession (naturally), Rachel seeks to help of her coworker, who immediately is like “WTF, mate. Get this kid to a hospital. And put some more shrimp on the barbie.” Rachel refuses, but when Samara tricks her into almost killing Aiden, her coworker is like “I didn’t sign up for this shit,” and takes control of the situation (or so he thinks). Realizing that she needs to go figure out another piece of the Samara puzzle she finds Samara’s mother, Evelyn, in a psychiatric hospital and is told to listen to Aiden if she wants him to survive. Returning to Astoria she finds that Aiden has violently escaped the hospital and killed her coworker. In her sleep she dreams that Aiden tells her to drown him and so she drugs him and places him in the bathtub after which Samara leaves his body. Hoping to destroy her once and for all she follows Samara to her TV home and locks her back in her well. THE END.
Why?! I mean, Samara is pure evil so we don’t need to delve too deep into her motivations. It would be fun if they were more mundane (Samara just wants that big promotion at work!), but alas she’s just pure evil. As for Rachel she just wants to escape Samara. When that turns out to be impossible, though, she decides that she must trap Samara for good instead.
What?! While there isn’t much product placement in this (probably some cars and stuff), I did find a moment in the very beginning somewhat amusing. The opening deals with the teenager who dies in Astoria trying to convince an unsuspecting girl to watch his copy of the tape. He kinda makes it seem like he’s into her and the whole situation is a date and as part of his seductive dance he asks if she wants a drink. Of course she does, the hottest guy in school seems into her. Duh. Out he pops from the kitchen with what I swear is a SoBe… bad move, dude. SoBe tastes like trash. She was probably already looking for the exits before you even broached the subject of the death video.
Who?! There isn’t really something to go here. No Planchet and no credits of note. So let’s do a short meditation on who Samara is as a monster. In this film we basically get the whole backstory: her mother claimed to be impregnated by a water demon and when the child is born Samara never cries and steadily drives her mother insane. Samara is adopted and continues to drive everyone around her insane with terrible visions. She never sleeps and these visions never stop until Samara is thrown down a well and sealed inside. This limits her influence until Rachel frees her in The Ring allowing her the freedom to attempt to possess Aiden. It really is a solid backstory, particularly the idea that the demon Samara never sleeps and the child she possessed is forever asleep within. I think both Patrick and I would have liked to see them play with that “water demon” idea of it at some point (and also opens a possibility for ultimate closure). But through three entries it’s kept fairly vague.
Where?! I love this setting as it so specifically narrows in on a random town in Oregon that actually exists. Rachel and Aiden move just over the Washington border into Astoria. It’s actually a well known filming location acting also as the setting for The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. This is a B+, but the whole series borders on an A because of how entrenched in the Northwest it all is.
When?! This is almost a secret holiday film as we get to see some commercials for Memorial Day on TV. That can only really be used for a bound, though, as they are all preparing for an upcoming long weekend without being more specific. We also see a prescription fill date for May 5th so that gives up a nice three week window to work with. Had to work for it. C-.
The first part of this film is horrific. Everything looks cheap and shitty and took a step towards One Missed Call rather than keep up with the slick appearance of the Gore Verbinski original. This culminates in a 20 minute flea market scene that was only horrifying in how dull and terrible it all was. Then a weird thing happens. The film shifts into the well-worn child possession territory and almost immediately becomes much better. There are lots of films ruined by the end (the classic being that the entire film was a dream or something equally dumb), but ruined by the beginning is much rarer. Could it be that we found one of these gems? Maybe. Still a pretty significant step back from the original in almost every way, not just in the beginning. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! You are the brilliant mind who brought J-Horror to the American masses. They. Went. Bananas. And you made the big bucks. What’s next for the Golden Boy (that’s what your coworkers call you)? Well … I mean, let’s just make that thing again right? There’s like a sequel and a book and everything, this should be easy … right? Golden Boy! Let’s go!
The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – The second half of this movie is kind of alright if you like The Ring. It is very similar. A investigative journalist needs to go investigating and encounters a spooooooky ghost. She barely knows what she’s doing and mostly causes trouble until she doesn’t (hooray!). That is the same as the first movie. And if you like thriller investigative films they both work shockingly well in that regard. So let’s imagine a Remake where the beginning of this film isn’t a complete pile of garbage. At the end of the first film Naomi Watts, Rachel, had just helped Samara (whoops) and presumably murdered someone to save her son. Honestly I think you pick up where you left off. She’s discovered the secret to saving oneself from Samara’s wrath, but there is an open question as to how to end Samara once and for all. Her method of saving herself is revealed to the world by Beth, Noah’s live-in girlfriend, which ultimately leads to an ever multiplying virus of tapes spreading across Washington. Rachel chases down as many of them as possible, but the desperate victims start to fight her influenced by the growing power of Samara. Realizing it is too late to stop the spread Rachel goes for the source, the convent that Samara (with demon in tow) was conceived and born. Can Rachel stop Samara? Or will Rachel, like a doofus, end up helping Samara achieve her ultimate desire: to be reborn again into another human vessel?
The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The first half of this film is garbage, but you knew that already. They never bother to address one of the weirdest mysteries of the entire series: why does this little girl demon live on a video tape? What are the rules even all about? Given it can be summed up as “it was an allegory for how technology is slowly killing us all” I think they basically gave that little mystery a pass (beyond perhaps that was her way of passing her “visions” to people far from her well-prison). The movie isn’t scary, although that is kind of expected given the first one wasn’t scary either. And finally, despite liking the second half of the film, it is pretty derivative of many films that came before it. It is basically a run of the mill child gets possessed by a demon tale. For the Sklog-cabulary Quiz I think I’ll note an interesting aspect of both the second and third Rings series which I’ll call:
The Janus Device (n.) – A plot device which acts to split a film into two disparate entities. Each half of the film can be viewed almost independently, often with distinct tones, settings, and plots.
In BMT the most famous Janus Device was from The Guardian where Ashton Kutcher’s graduation from the Coast Guard Academy perfectly splits the film into two parts. The first part sees Kutcher (aka Goldfish) butting heads with Kevin Costner among the sultry Louisiana bayou. The second half sees Kutcher (aka Speedboat) best of pals with Costner among the freezing waters of Kodiak, Alaska. Here you see basically a bunch of throwaway jump scares until Watts son lands in the hospital sick with possession. From there it kicks right back into The Ring territory, complete with changing the setting from Astoria, Oregon back to Seattle, Washington. The movie was clearly just over written by several different crews.
The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this has got legs that go on for days my friends. I am officially a fan of J Horror. I was to watch more and get to know them. And I think I’ll try my very best to get BMT to give that to me. Stay tuned. As far as street cred, well it did get two nomination at both the Golden Schmoes (Worst Film and Biggest Disappointment) and the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (Worst Sequel and Least Scary Horror Film). But as far as I can tell this kind of flew under the critical radar. I think it is great, whatever.
I’ll leave that there because this one is already enormous. I’ll cover The Ring in more detail in the recap for Rings.