DECEMBER 18, 2008
I was about halfway through Ringu 2 when I began to understand why the American sequel had a completely new storyline rather than follow this one (the two original films are pretty identical, so I figured the sequels would follow suit) – this movie kind of sucks. The American Ring Two was even worse, but you can’t blame them for attempting something different rather than redo this overplotted and thoroughly unscary version.
Let’s get what works out of the way. They aren’t copying the original movie, and given the rather limited number of stories one could make about a haunted video tape, it was a wise choice to open it up a bit and stick with the characters, rather than bring in a bunch of new characters and have them suffer the same fate(s) of the people in the original. Also, more on that, the movie picks up a few days later, and all of the surviving actors have returned, so it feels like a genuine continuation, not a completely unrelated entry like The Eye 2. And there’s a rather surprising death of a major character halfway through (probably the primary reason this movie was not the basis for the American one), which is a ballsy move.
But that’s about it. The problems more than outweigh the high points. For starters, the movie is only about a tenth as freaky or scary as the original. There are surprisingly few scenes of long haired ghosts fucking with people, and those few aren’t particularly exciting either. The most suspenseful the movie gets is when a guy is trying to erase a tape and he keeps failing to do so.
Speaking of tape qualities, something bugs me. The only way to end your curse is to make a copy of the tape and give it to someone, right? So that copy is at least third generation at that point (since the one that caused all the trouble in the first place was itself a copy), right? So that guy makes a copy and gives it to someone to save HIS ass, and now we’re on a 4th generation dub. And so on. Well, then wouldn’t the tape eventually be so damn muddled and blurry that the ghost wouldn’t be able to find its way out of the well and into your TV? Also, what happens when you give the tape to someone who already had it? “No thanks, Steve gave me a copy yesterday.” Eventually, folks will run out of people to give it to.
Another issue I had with this movie was its stubborn refusal to keep things simple. There are so many goddamn subplots in this movie, I felt like I was watching three movies combined into one. Dead fathers, facial reconstruction, mute kids, psychic powers, super-water, spirit photography, police investigations... not to mention the damn video, which pops up from time to time, mainly to try to remind the audience that this is a sequel to Ringu and not Ju-On (which it often feels like). The water stuff in particular is annoying – apparently one of the after effects of being cursed is that you can turn ordinary tap water into super-absorbent water? What the hell kind of special power is that? Sylar wouldn’t even bother to snarl at the owner of that power, let alone cut open his forehead to take it. And the end of the film seems partially lifted from Exorcist II, hardly a great source to crib your sequel ideas.
Also, and this isn’t the movie’s fault, but I noticed that when you watch a foreign film, even with subs you’re still missing out on some of the ambience, because they can’t subtitle everything. Like at one point, the little creepy kid has scattered a bunch of pages, all of which have different things on them, but the subs only translate one (“I feel scared” or something of that nature). Newspaper articles, TV headlines, etc... all suffer the same fate. Even some dialogue gets left to the imagination – an interview with a girl who has watched the tape is playing, and after two or three lines, the subs no longer translate what she is saying for our benefit (the main characters begin talking over the video, but still, in my own language I’d be able to follow both). It’s like playing a role playing game without talking to any of the townspeople or reading the quest descriptions.
Luckily, the DVD has no extra features whatsoever, which means my time spent in the increasingly underwhelming Ringu universe was limited to the 92 minutes for the film itself. However, when I was looking the movie up on Wikipedia to see if I could gain any insight as to why a pretty decent movie can’t seem to come up with a good sequel, I discovered the existence of a Dreamcast game based on the concept. Has anyone played this thing? Dreamcast is the only console that I’ve never even touched, so I’m completely oblivious on the details.
What say you?