Ringu 2 review

:. Director: Nakata Hideo
:. Starring: Matsushima Nanako, Sato Hitomi
:. Running Time: 1:35
:. Year: 1998
:. Country: Japan


Beginning where Ringu had left us, Ringu 2 seems to evade our expectations, hiding its own mythology to finally yield to the rules of formatted horror. While Ringu suffered from not having fully exploited its terror potential, the accentuated use of effects aiming to scare us here breaks the curse that Ringu exerted on the audience. By wanting to favor horror at the expense of suggestion, the saga has lost the originality and subtlety that were the strength of the first act.

Reiko, the journalist and main character in Ringu, only has a furtive cameo here, as she has been replaced by her ex-husband's assistant, who had a minor role in the previous film. Equipped with an aptitude for parapsychology, she tries to thwart the spell and release Reiko's son from the spirit of Sadako.

While Ringu 2 certainly offers more chills than its predecessor and benefits from more energetic directing, the various apparitions leave an impression of déjà-vu. As terrifying as they may be, these paranormal phenomena are only the echo of earlier film incarnations of the genre. Lugubrious moments spent watching the tape are replaced by a succession of ghostly manifestations. By wanting to prolong the myth, Ringu 2 actually grows more distant from the very essence of the saga. Koji Suzuki and Nakata Hideo take our hand to take us off road, as they have been confronted with the impossibility to exceed or match the original work. Instead they offer an Americanized loophole transplanted in Japan; a propensity for substitution that extends to characters since not only Reiko is replaced but Sadako now appears through Reiko's son.

Ringu 2 is also subject to the same laws that reduced the impact of sequels of classics such as Alien and Nightmare on Elm Street. By exchanging suggestion for a direct approach showing Freddy or the creature to a banal extent, Ringu 2 loses its grip on our phobias. Watching Sadako climb the well to pursue the protagonists isn't as terrifying as watching Reiko alone at the bottom of that same well (see Ringu).

More vicious and disconcerting, the film is a victim of its own success. The fascination exerted by the book and film made this sequel necessary to quench the thirst of an audience asking for more. The return of the sinister Sadako is more than welcome but by returning to the source of the curse and by enlightening some obscure elements, the film removes part of the mystery and loses its charm.

Beyond the goose bumps that the film provides, one especially appreciates the journey offered by the film: leaving civilization to return to its roots in traditional Japan. Rather than a continuation, Ringu 2 is watched like an epilogue, with nostalgia.

  Fred Thom

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