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The Ring Two’ lowers bar for sequels

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, September 6, 2005

For instructions on how to ruin a potential movie franchise, look to the horror genre.

Recent years have shown audiences that other genres can pump out good sequels, such as the “X-Men,” “Spider Man” and “Shrek” franchises. Horror movies have not had a decent offering since the gore-fest “Freddy vs. Jason.”

When “The Ring” was released, it was touted as being scary for its originality. Expectations were high for the sequel, as the director picked to helm “The Ring Two” was Hideo Nakata, who directed the original version released in Asia. This explains why fans of “The Ring” found the sequel so bitterly disappointing.

The first way to ruin a sequel is to ignore the rules of the precedent. While bending the rules can prove effective for shocking the viewer, ignoring them outright simply confuses fans and ruins continuity. “The Ring Two” does exactly that, trashing the successes of its predecessor.

An equally effective method for burying a sequel is ignoring the stylistic themes of the forerunner. “The Ring” was effective because it was so mysterious and foreboding. The viewer was never really certain of what was going on. The malevolent forces within the movie kept themselves hidden, dropping mere hints here and there until the shocking climax.

“The Ring Two” moves away from this trend, keeping the vengeful ghost Samara within the viewers mind at all times. It is principle within horror films that what the audience does not know gives the evil entity its power. Freddy was originally scary because no one really knew who he was or what he was scheming. “The Exorcist” was frightening for the same reason, which was that the viewer was largely kept in the dark.

A third way to ruin a successful movie is to add horrible computer-generated images. The original “Ring” was effective because it appeared to keep computer tampering to a minimum. The second shamelessly incorporates computer-generated visuals, having an entire scene in the film revolve around the inclusion of a poorly rendered herd of deer. It’s both distracting and damaging to the overall viewing experience.

The studio chose to only release the unrated version of the film on DVD, which was probably more of a desperate ploy than any treat to fans. The added scenes are mostly unnecessary character development scenes. They were edited out of the theatrical version, and tacking them into the DVD only prolongs the pain for the viewer.

Placing the word “unrated” on the cover seems to be a frantic stab at misleading viewers into thinking that its more shocking than the theatrical release, which is obviously not the case.

The DVD itself is presented quite nicely. It has a nice shiny slipcover that goes over the standard DVD case and this unrated version comes with all the standard special features. These include some featurettes and additional deleted scenes that were not placed in the unrated DVD cut.

The most interesting feature included was the short video simply titled “Rings,” a 16-minute feature that chronicles the events that lead up to “The Ring Two.” However, it was packaged with the original “Ring” when the sequel was released in theaters, making it an unnecessary addition for some buyers.

“The Ring Two” is a perfect lesson on how not to do a sequel. As such, it may be of interest to potential filmmakers and masochists. Everyone else should look elsewhere for real thrills.