The Ring Two

Cast:
Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller
Simon Baker as Max Rourke
David Dorfman as Aidan Keller
Elizabeth Perkins as Dr. Emma Temple
Gary Cole as Martin Savide
Sissy Spacek as Evelyn
Ryan Merriman as Jake
Emily VanCamp as Emily
Kelly Overton as Betsy
Daveigh Chase as Samara
Kelly Stables as Evil Samara

Analysis:
Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) has taken her son Aidan (David Dorfman) to a small town in Oregon to recover from the horrible events they have witnessed when the evil ghost Samara tried to kill them. When a local teenager is killed, Rachel realizes Samara followed them and worse, has taken an interest in Aidan as a means to relive her life. Rachel has to uncover the mystery of Samara’s past in order to save her son.

The Ring Two is about the trials and joys of motherhood, about the problems of loving your child unconditionally, and the sacrifices made because of it. It works at its best when it ties its own scares to some of the real life horrors of parenthood – losing children to social services, postpartum depression, and infanticide.

The Ring Two is full of mood, but light on character, which lessens many of the moments beyond their initial visceral interest. Performances are often limited to mixtures of disbelief and dawning horror, and not much else. The film focuses so entirely on Rachel and Aidan that the rest of the characters come and go as needed, and are around so little that they don’t really exist as anything other than plot points. Sissy Spacek and Gary Cole fair the best by taking their small roles to extremes.

Watts and Dorfman only get a little bit more to do. For the most part, they have been frozen in time at the same emotional state they were living in at the end of The Ring, and they don’t much move beyond that through the course of the film. Rachel is often limited to a mixture of disbelief and dawning horror, and not much else. She does have a journey of loss and found strength in the second of half of the film, but it takes so long to get there that it doesn’t register strong enough. Dorfman comes off the best as he plays through both Aidan’s possession by Samara and his dawning love for his mother.

The films biggest problem, however, is its treatment of, and use of, Samara. The previous rules of her existence, after the first scene, are completely jettisoned in exchange for a new set, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, except that the new rules aren’t improvements and generally lessen Samara as a threat. She has been transformed from a supernatural threat to a comic book villain, with a specific set of superpowers – telepathy, travel through televisions – and an element that is her one weakness – water. She’s not a supernatural menace, just a villain to be faced and overcome, and it weakens the final climax at the end of the film. What could have been interesting and chilling and strange is reduced to a piece of rote Hollywood action.

The film has a great deal of mood and there are some genuinely chilling moments, but weak characters sap it of all strength.

The Ring Two is rated PG-13 for violence/terror, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language.

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