Combustible Celluloid
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With: Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, David Dorfman, Daveigh Chase, Emily Van Camp, Sissy Spacek, Ryan Merriman, Shannon Cochran, Gary Cole, Martin Henderson, Elizabeth Perkins
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Directed by: Hideo Nakata
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence/terror, disturbing images, thematic elements, and some language
Running Time: 111
Date: 03/19/2013

The Ring Two (2005)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Low Watts

By Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDwire

Abandoning the gimmicky defining premise of its predecessor, about the ghost of anevil little girl exacting blood-curdling vengeance on anyone who watcheda haunted video tape, "The Ring Two" seems also to have jettisoned allnotions of pacing, creative chills and common sense.

Catching up with newspaper reporter Naomi Watts (whose talents are wasted on B-movie screams) and her hollow-eyed son (David Dorfman) after they've survived the first film by slipping through a gaping hole in its own internal logic, The Ring Two gives its poltergeist arbitrary new powers to track these two down to a small West Coast town and possess the boy's body.

Little else happens in the course of the story, except that Watts' suspicious attempts at exorcism draw the attention of the local Child Protective Services. The kid ends up in the hospital (from which he easily escapes and no search is ever mounted) while Watts tracks down the ghostly girl's asylum-confined birth mother (Sissy Spacek) for some long-winded exposition laying out the new rules of the plot.

Although directed by Hideo Nakata, the man behind the wildly successful Japanese horror flicks on which this franchise is based, The Ring Two meanders so slowly through its paces that even the scares seem lethargic (only one scene solicited any screams from a packed-house sneak preview audience this week), and it's overly dependent on the characters' idiocy to advance the plot. At one point, Watts leaves to "get some of our things" from home while her haunted son takes a bath in a strange house -- despite the fact that she knows water brings out the worst in the ghoul, who died by drowning at the bottom of a well.

This does lead to the movie's one truly inventive chill, in which the bathwater defies gravity with the help of some spooky special effects. Thanks to the effects team, the ghost can be fairly spine-tingling too, at times, with her long black hair covering her face and her gray, water-logged, rigor-mortised form moving swiftly towards her victims in jerky, startling fits and starts.

But from the embarrassingly inept performances by soon-to-be-dead teenagers in its prologue, to a nonsensical scene in which Watts' car is attacked by possessed deer, to the inconsistent finale that leaves an insulting number of loose ends flagrantly flailing about, The Ring Two is typical of Hollywood's attitude toward horror movie sequels: It's going to make money whether it's any good or not, so why bother aiming high?

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