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The Ring Two (2005): ***½

Directed by Hideo Nakata

This movie is a lot better than I thought it would be. Let me just say that right of the bat so that if you didn't like this film you can either stop reading and grumble under your breath about how I'm an idiot for liking it, or you can continue reading knowing full well that you're going to disagree with what I have to say.

There. That's outta the way.

Sequels are usually bad because they're just a re-hash of the original movie, without any new ideas or creative energy. When sequels are good it's usually because they take the original movie and make it bigger and better (as in Aliens), or because they make it seem like the original movie was just like the introduction, kind of like the pilot episode of a TV series, and that this sequel is the real story (Toy Story 2).

The Ring Two is good as a sequel for a strange reason; it's almost as if the whole movie is an extended third act of the first movie. At the end of the first film they thwart the villain by saving their own lives, but they don't really defeat the her. In this film the thwarted villain tries a more direct approach to defeat the heroes.

There are some many questions brought up by this film. Between the events of the two films Aidan apparently shows his copy of the tape to someone else (seeing as how Aidan isn't dead). To whom did he show it? When a copy of the tape makes its way to Astoria, OR (where Rachel & Aidan have fled), is it a coincidence? When Rachel sees Samarra for the first time Samara says, "I found you." By this time the tape has apparently been shown to many, many people. What makes Rachel and Aidan so special? And how does Samara get the new power that she manifests in this film?

You know, unanswered logistic questions in horror movies bother me—usually. For some reason in this film they're almost completely irrelevant, because this film is not, like the first film, a logistical puzzle (even though it does have some mystery elements). The Ring Two, even more than the first, is about creating and maintaining a very specific mood: unrelenting tension. The Ring Two is tense. When it was over both Carrie & I could feel our backs and shoulders relax and give a sigh of relief. Director Nakata's use of lighting, camera movement, music, and most especially Naomi Watt's performance all combine into this very effective feeling of overwhelming pressure. Why do some of the unexplained things happen? Because it serves to increase the tension.

And it works.

That's the main reason why I liked this movie.

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