Taking place immediately after the events of Ringu (1998), Ringu 2 features Mai Takano (Miki Nakatani) continuing the investigation into the events of Ringu. At the beginning of the film, Reiko (Nanako Matsushima) and Yoichi Asakawa (Katsumi Muramatsu) are still in "hiding"/"on the run" after their ordeals in Ringu. Both the police and Mai are hoping to find them. Meanwhile, Masami Kurahashi (Hitomi Sato), one of the two girls from the beginning of Ringu, is now in a mental hospital, the police have the remains of Sadako Yamamura's (Rie Inou) body, they're trying to recreate her living appearance through forensic modeling, and they've located a man who is supposedly Sadako's father, Takashi (Yoichi Numata).
Series note: As should be apparent from the above description, it's imperative that you watch Ringu before seeing Ringu 2. You may also wish to watch Ringu 0: Basudei (2000) before Ringu, and for fun, the original "Ring 2", Rasen/Spiral (1998) before or after this "replacement sequel" (this one was produced when audiences were dissatisfied with the very differently toned Rasen/Spiral).
Unlike Rasen/Spiral, Ringu 2 is so close in tone to Ringu that it seems more like a "second half" than a sequel. Also unlike Rasen/Spiral, I think that Ringu 2 is much more uneven. There are long swaths where the film is extremely bland. But there are also moments of brilliance, plus there is added value from the momentum of Ringu. They all average out in the end so that Ringu 2 earns an 8, or a "B", just as Rasen/Spiral did.
Many fans were dissatisfied with Rasen/Spiral heading off into sci-fi territory, on the way providing something of a scientific explanation for what turned out to be a "Ring virus". They thought it ruined some of the mystery from the first film. It's curious in that light that many of those same fans like Ringu 2 much better. There is also an attempt here at explaining the curse, and it also ends up in sci-fi land. There's even a seen that amusingly resembles sci-fi elements from John Boorman's underrated Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). For much of the film, the Ring curse is more or less abandoned while the focus becomes Yoichi as a surrogate villain, perhaps as "possessed" as Regan was, just by a slightly different force.
Admittedly, though, the explanation for the curse in Ringu 2 is much different than it was in Rasen/Spiral, and despite the sci-fi, the strong mystery genre "investigation" elements that many loved so much in Ringu are woven throughout the plot. The sci-fi here is more psychological than Rasen/Spiral's medical sci-fi. There is a lot of talk of intentionality and theories of intentionality being physically manifested. The film's ontology has it so that "mental energy", emotions and thoughts can be suppressed and subsequently "concentrated" to such an extent that when released externally, they can be dangerous to others. Sadako, the chairperson of the Ringu villains, is the principal, most focused example of this, primarily because she's had 30 years in a veritable isolation chamber to effectively bury her thoughts. Is this an attempt to provide a subtext about the suppression of one's "real feelings and desires" in Japanese society? Maybe, but it doesn't work very well as such because the points are so shakily, ambiguously and infrequently realized in the film.
So we have to evaluate Ringu 2 more on its surface level. A lot of the film is a fairly pedestrian drama. Early ostensibly horrific events--such as the perusal of Reiko's apartment, deaths of supporting characters, possible "ghost" appearances, and the supernatural events surrounding Masami in the mental hospital--too often come across as a bit flat, almost banal. Ringu 2 is nothing if not a slow cooker. It improves, but very gradually.
By the time we get to one particular, very significant death, the film is cooking with full gas, but that's nearly an hour into a 90-minute film. Before that point, Ringu 2 is much closer to a 7, or a "C", if not slightly lower. I won't mention who dies in this pivotal scene, but it is beautifully realized. We never really see the body, but instead Nakata shows us bright red blood slowing flowing across pavement, trickling down cracks, filling up depressions.
From here to the end, Ringu 2 is much more even, often a 9 or above. The bulk of the "atmospheric" or "creepy" material arrives in this last half hour to forty minutes, such as the videotape of another young girl suddenly changing, her head bizarrely, violently shaking similarly to an effect first made popular in Jacob's Ladder (1990). Another standout moment is at the Yamamura family "hotel", when both Sadako and her mother eerily appear.
By the time the climax rolls around, the film is quite exciting, and Nakata forgoes dramatic sci-fi for more focused, horrific surrealism. Like Ringu, there is a climactic scene in a well, this one much more enigmatic, possibly meant to be a symbolic journey to the core of the pent-up emotions associated with Sadako (opposed to a more "journey to hell"-styled symbolism of Ringu), with the emergence from a light-filled "ring" representing the physical manifestation and release of the emotions through a person's eye (eyes are important ring-like metaphors/symbols throughout the film). In the finale, Nakata also more literally combines the ring symbolism with the series' ubiquitous water symbolism--water more than likely being used to represent a kind of unifying "spiritual" ("kamic" might be a better word) ether that permeates the world. Of course, he still leaves an opening for another sequel as well.
Unlike many films, Ringu 2 is impossible to evaluate "properly" in isolation. It must be contextualized with Ringu. It may be far from an excellent film on its own, but it's certainly above average when viewed in conjunction with the series.
Horror / Mystery / Sci-Fi
Horror / Mystery / Sci-Fi
In this sequel to Ringu (1998), Mai Takano is trying to learn more about the death of her boyfriend, Ryuji. She soon hears stories about a videotape haunted by the spirit of a girl named Sadako, who died many years earlier. Supposedly, anyone watching the tape will die of fright exactly one week later. After some investigating, she learns that Ryuji's son, Youichi, is developing the same psychic powers that Sadako had when she was alive. Mai must now find some way to keep Yuuichi and herself from becoming Sadako's next victims.
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April 17, 2019 at 06:03 AM