The theatrical tagline for The Ring Two, "Fear Comes Full Circle", not only alluded to the shape of the film’s titular image, but also because this sequel to Gore Verbinski’s 2002 hit remake of the Japanese classic was helmed by the man responsible for that film, director Hideo Nakata.
The Ring Two opens with a pair of high school kids sitting in front of a television set. The boy is nervously trying to force a skittish girl to watch this videotape that he has seen, and, as he succeeds, he leaves the room in a panic, and waits it out in his kitchen. The young man is eyeing the clock, and, as it nears 11:00 pm, the phone rings. The boy reluctantly picks it up, expecting to hear the whispery voice of a child telling him his time is up, but is instead greeted by one of his friends who turned him on to this latest thrill game. The boy is congratulated for making it to the seventh day, but, as he accepts his kudos, he notices something is wrong; terribly wrong. The kitchen begins to flood around him, bruises appear on his arms. He rushes into the living room to see that, while the tape is indeed playing, the girl has her eyes covered. She didn’t watch it at all. His time is up. And, with that, Samara, the vengeful spirit of an unwanted child, emerges from the television set, and claims her latest victim.
Meanwhile, Rachel (Watts) and her son Aidan (Dorfman) have relocated to quiet Astoria, Oregon, where mom now works for a small paper, and son has developed an interest in photography. All is well, and the two seem to be enjoying their simple new lives, but the guilt behind the reason they are still even breathing is taking its toll, for at the end of the previous film, Rachel and Aidan made a single copy of the videotape to save their own lives. Little did they know that the tape would not only spread beyond its initial victim, but would become a “sport” amongst thrill seeking teens right here in her new small town.
Rachel hears of the death of the young boy, and rushes to the scene of the incident to see the body. She’s seen this before. The disfigured face, frozen in fear; Samara is back, and she’s found her. Worse than that, she’s found Rachel’s son. Now it’s up to Rachel to find all of the missing links in Samara’s tragic life, so she can piece together the solution that will rid her of this spirit once and for all.
And so begins another chapter in The Ring saga, but, instead of the gripping urgency of the first film’s seven day countdown to death, we are presented with a fairly pedestrian possession plot, in which Samara attempts to take over the body of Aidan so that Rachel can be her mother. Still, it’s handled quite well, and Nakata definitely knows how to keep the tension flowing throughout. This is most certainly a return to Nakata's original formula of quiet scares and deliberate pacing, and, in this unrated version, an extra 18 minutes that was excised from the theatrical cut has been reinstated here, adding more depth and tension. However, those expecting to see heads getting lopped off, or Naomi Watts parading around in a full-frontal nude scene will be sorely disappointed, as, in this case, unrated simply means that the extra footage here was never screened by the ratings board.
The DVD also features a few long, deleted scenes that I would have liked to see edited back into the film as well. While none seemed absolutely essential to the plot, the extended introduction to Rachel and her son was a bit creepy, touching, and also established a bit more about some peripheral characters.
Dreamworks also includes the sixteen minute prequel short Rings, which chronicles the events that lead up to this film’s opening, and takes a deeper look at the “game” that people have made of watching the Samara tape. It hints that this game has become something of an underground phenomenon, and is a brilliant premise that should definitely be watched BEFORE The Ring Two, for maximum impact.
In addition to all of the above, the set also features a quartet of short featurettes, an HBO First Look special, biographies, stills, trailers, and more.
It's a pretty impressive package of goods for an entertaining film. While The Ring Two didn't please fans of the Gore Verbinski remake, I do think Nakata fans will like what's here, and I certainly think that it deserves a second look on DVD, especially in this longer, richer unrated edition.