The Ring Two
If an invitation to watch an unmarked video didn't make you just a little nervous after seeing The Ring, you either don't scare easily or you slept through the movie. However, don't expect the same kind of menacing television static in this sequel.
Following her investigations into the gruesome deaths of teens who died as a result of viewing an eerie VHS tape, Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) has packed her bags, left the city and moved with her son Aidan (David Dorfman) to an idyllic coastal town in Oregon. Taking a new job at the Astoria Gazette, she is ready to leave the nightmarish events of Seattle behind her. But when reports of a homicide crackle across the local police scanner, she starts to worry. Her fears are confirmed when she discovers an untitled cassette at the victim's home and realizes that Samara (Kelly Stables), the ghostly spirit of a young, murdered girl, has followed them there.
Later, as Aidan begins to develop mysterious symptoms of hypothermia, the wary journalist realizes her son is the latest victim of the creepy, longhaired ghoul. But the child services agency sees things differently. Unable to explain the boy's condition or the bruises on his body, Dr. Emma Temple (Elizabeth Perkins) and the staff at the hospital suspect abuse. Even Rachel's coworker (Simon Baker) starts to question the family's odd behavior when the mother and boy show up at the office late one night.
Japanese director Hideo Nakata builds much of the film's suspense with the use of sound-opening zippers, footsteps on water-soaked carpets, and ominous music. He also resorts to the classic elements of banging window frames, windy nights and shadowy figures that all, unfortunately, point predictably to looming jump scenes. Additionally, the storyline seems to wander aimlessly from locked down asylums where Rachel visits a longtime resident (Sissy Spacek) to a musty basement where she searches for an explanation of Samara's behavior.
Much of the film's scare factor is based on suspense rather than gore. Still, the intentional drugging of a child, the use of an extreme sexual profanity, and some violent scenes are concerns families may find. Like the victims in The Ring, many of the casualties in this film end up with grossly disfigured faces.
Most concerning however is the repeated portrayal of a suicide, the actions taken by a mother suffering from severe postpartum depression and the deeds of another woman who feels compelled to drown her child after hearing voices in a dream. Because of the severity of these acts and the relative lack of consequences for them, the script could send a dangerous message to those dealing with the debilitating effects of depression.
What's more, like the shower scene in Psycho, the bathroom incidents in this script may leave water-wary bathers feeling even more hesitant about leaving a ring or two in the bottom of their tubs.