the Ring 2 1999 Review: “Still scary but my pants have remained clean”.

Title: The Ring 2

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hiroshi Takahashi

Cast: Miki Nakatani; Yûrei Yanagi; Rikiya Ôtaka; Nanako Matsushima; Fumiyo Kohinata; Hiroyuki Sanada; Yoichi Numata; Rie Ino’o

Duration: 95 minutes

Country: Japan

Year: 1999

So the Ring 2 the sequel to a movie that as I pointed out in my other review requires you to change your underpants with how good of a horror movie it is. Is this movie a worthy sequel? I guess so, it’s still scary and you kind and the effort is still there but like a majority of sequels it is not as good as the original. It is better than Ringu’s forgotten original sequel though. “Rasen”  was a “sequel” to the 1998 “Ringu” it premiered on the same day as its prequel but unlike “Ringu” which was a success “Rasen” was not so lucky (I will explain why when I review that one)

In any case the Ring 2 was not a movie as scary as the first one but as I said it’s still scary and the story in my opinion is interesting. “The Ring 2 follows a character who made a brief appearance on the first Ring film Mai Takano as she tries to discover the cause of the death of her teacher/lover. On her quest  she is joined by Okazaki a journalist and colleague of Reiko who has been wondering why he hasn’t seen his coworker for at least 2 weeks. Meanwhile the Police also try to locate Reiko after the death of not only Ryuji but her father as well.”

Now that the plot summary is done let me tell you what I think about this movie (if I like it or not) before we get to the spoiler part of the Review. I liked it and I think it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it but after re-watching this and other  movies of the franchise and watching the latest which I hadn’t seen yet I have to say this is one of the better ones.

. And now…

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Let’s begin with the story. The story of the ring 2 is not a bad story but it’s not as good as the first one, and what they say about Sadako doesn’t help make it better. After performing the autopsy the big and the “terrible” reveal comes in the form of how much time Sadako was alive after being thrown down the well and that time is 30 years. I imagine that it is to reinforce they tried to establish in the previous movie she had but come on, if we truly believe she survived that long after being thrown down the well for thirty years We are also supposed to believe it didn’t occur to her try to use her powers to call for help or something? I mean even if she was in a coma we have seen what she can do after death surely she could have done so right? Well it missed a good opportunity to explain the “7 days” thing but hey they went with what they went.

Anyway I think that is my main issue with the story, the main story with Mai looking for Reiko and Yoichi is not bad, even if you learn once again a lot of the things you kind of learn in the first movie which makes it feel kind of repetitive. The way of how to avoid getting killed by the curse plays a rather important role in this movie because of the actions of one character. I think I didn’t specifically said it in the first review but I’ll say it’s now, for the curse to be lifted you have to make a copy of the video and show it to someone (something Reiko did in the first movie and was saved). There’s a subplot of the police trying to find Reiko and Yoichi as well but I kind of felt it wasn’t really necessary to have it there although it made complete sense so it didn’t bother me too much and there’s a very cool scene that involves Yoichi and the police after he not only loses his father but his mother too.

Yoichi’s story in this movie is also really interesting, especially since his character is closely linked to Sadako here, Sadako using his powers to manifest herself before the characters and he having a behavior and exhibiting powers similar to Sadako’s for example in the final scene of the police investigation’s subplot.

There is also a subplot more interesting than the one about the police investigation about the Psychiatric hospital with a girl who witnessed Sadako after she killed Reiko’s niece is being treated where the doctor there is trying to study ESP and prove their existence, something like Sadako’s stepdad tried and later to destroy Sadako. It’s interesting to see the experiments they try to do with the ESP even if they fail miserably with deadly consequences for many of the people involved especially the final experiment.

It is also interesting that the story still has the video around it but that Sadako doesn’t limit it to a tape, through her power it can make appear it on tv, just one part or the whole thing. She can even people hallucinate the scenes of the video.

One thing to add is that as the movie goes on it builds tension less effectively than the first one mainly because it relies more on punctual scares rather than concentrate on building tension. The atmosphere is still dark and creepy in some scenes but it’s not used as effectively as in the first since you don’t have that feeling of fear growing as intensely as it did in the first movie.

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Now the characters. Well a quick analysis of the characters could be that, unlike the first one most of them are unlikable, with only Reiko, Yoichi and the new MC Mai Takano being the likable ones, Ryuji also appears and is also likable but even if his actions are important for the plot he is not much more than a cameo. Let’s start with Mai played by Miki Nakatani who in my opinion does a good job portraying the character, she is a character who like I said is interested in learning what happened to her teacher/boyfriend, although the latter aspect of his relationship is barely hinted at during this movie (unlike Rasen where its pretty clear they were a couple), and she does what she can to do so, trying to find Reiko and Yoichi cooperating with Okazaki to do so. Her reactions are mostly human and you can understand most of them and even those you can’t understand actually make her a better character in my opinion.

Now Okazaki, Reiko’s Co-worker, played by Yûrei Yanagi. This character stops being relevant after the first half of the film in my opinion. He is a co-worker of Reiko who has taken over her investigation of the video and wonders about what happened to her. She does help Mai a little at the beginning but then has his own subplot over the course of which you come to see it from a normal not really bothersome character to probably the most hateable character on the movie on which he asks a girl to lend him a copy of the video, the girl ends up watching the video and the only thing she asks of him is that he watches it, then makes a copy and shows it to somebody else. She even rejects the money he was going to pay her and begs him to watch the video. Well he not only does not watch the video, but he lies to her even as the girl shows concern for his well-being because she thinks she has saved her. He doesn’t get a happy ending though and I couldn’t help but smirk at the end of the film.

Then there’s the Doctor at the psychiatric hospital. Dr Kawajiri, portrayed by Fumiyo Kohinata, he is a former friend of Ryuji from medical school (even though Ryuji is a math University Professor both Ring 2 and Rasen establish he had gone to Medical school). He seems to be interested in ESP and does conduct a series of experiments with it, several trying to prove it exists and one supposedly to end Sadako. Like Okazaki to me he not really likable, he is an asshole who cares mostly about his research and even puts the life of one of his patients at risk for it, the patient by the way dies. He does try to destroy Sadako by the end but even then he behaves not in a likable way at all and from the way it’s all set up everything looks like just another experiment.

Reiko and Yoichi, played by the actors who played them in the previous movie, are still pretty much likable. Reiko is still very much shaken by the events of the previous movie and by her son’s behavior. When we visit their house from the first movie the television is completely destroyed and everything is a mess. She is living in hiding, worried that there is something really wrong with her son. And there is… Yoichi has a very creepy behavior in this movie, after the events of the last one it is said that he hasn’t spoken a word in two weeks and that she communicates via writing what he needs, wants or wants to say. Sadako is apparently influencing him after he was saved and the actor does a really good job portraying a creepy little child or even just a mute. Even when he does speak it doesn’t bother me because I already know his personality and he does a really good job for a young child actor in this movie, better than the last.

Aside from the mentioned characters, there is Sadako’s uncle whose character is pretty much the same as the last movie, in this one he reveals  some things he already revealed on the first one (and some new info but very little), old info like how he was the one who tried to make money out of Sadako’s mother’s abilities initiating a chain of events that ended on her death, wonders why Sadako doesn’t kill him and gives her a burial at sea when he is given her remains, which were retrieved in the last movie. And he is just there, he is unlikable but he already was in the last movie, I know I didn’t speak about him because he was little more than an extra on that one. Here he does have more on-screen time but when he is not unlikable and delivers exposition we already know he is just there doing his thing. He does get his wish to be killed fulfilled, Sadako makes him commit suicide.

The rest of the characters are little more than cameos. We can talk about two, a detective who is just an asshole and behaves like it who is investigating the death caused by the video, the girl who watches the video and begs Okazaki to watch it and the girl who witnessed Sadako killed Reiko’s niece who is there to be experimented on and to provoke creepy scenes and die.

Now the evil spirit Sadako played by Rie Ino’o. In this movie her character is developed a bit more you learn more about her back-story and it makes you sympathize with her. Her powers are explored more in this movie and she shows she can kill people in different ways, she can also make people see things or hallucinate (as I mentioned before), manifest herself through other’s people’s powers, or at least that’s the explanation the movie gives, more or less, and kind of influence other people with ESPer abilities.

However she while she is still a threat her appearance in the movie is much less scary because she appears much more, and also because when they show her face is a reconstruction of her face made by a police forensics team, she kind of seems like a mannequin or a statue.

Anyway this movie like I said before and I explained later, is scary but not as scary as the first one. Perhaps it’s for the reasons I’ve given in the review perhaps they could have made more of an effort. Be that as it may like I said this movie is still scary but I was able to keep my underwear clean while and after watching it. For those reasons I give The Ring 2 Three out of Five stars. It’s a high three stars movie but it doesn’t really reach four stars for me (if I had to give it a normal score it would be 7.5 out of 10 so close to that fourth star (8/10) but not there). In any case I recommend you check it out it’s still a good horror movie.

PS: I want to add something I failed to mention in the first Ring review. Toho is involved in this movie which makes me wonder how long will it be before we get a Godzilla vs Sadako movie… that would be something I would want to see.