The Ring Two (2005)
Main cast: Naomi Watts (Rachel Keller), Simon Baker (Max Rourke), David Dorfman (Aidan Keller), Elizabeth Perkins (Dr Emma Temple) Gary Cole (Martin Savide), and Sissy Spacek (Evelyn)
Director: Hideo Nakata

Released as Samara: The Ring 2 in Asia, this sequel is actually more compelling and watchable, in my opinion, compared to the original because it doesn't go for visual chills as much as visceral gut-wrenching chills.

The Ring Two takes off from where the original movie ends. Should I say anything about this and spoil the first movie for people who haven't watched it? Let's just say that our heroine Rachel Perkins and her son Aidan manage to escape the murderous clutches of the ghost-girl Samara in the first movie. Or did they? Nope, of course not or there won't be this movie, duh. Samara shows up but this time she takes possession of Aidan in her twisted search of a mother that will love her. Aidan falls violently ill as a result and if that isn't bad enough, social security and the hospital staff suspect Rachel of being behind her son's inexplicable illness. Rachel's only ally is her new boss at the paper she works at, Max Rourke. Rachel has to discover the origins of Samara - origins that go beyond that presented in the previous movie - and learns, to her horror, that she will have to drown Aidan - yes, kill her own son - if she wants to get rid of Samara.

This sequel will be disappointing to anyone who is expecting another scare-a-minute like the original. However, I find this sequel a very watchable horror drama. In fact, it's probably better than anything M Night Shaymalan came out with lately because this movie offers a satisfying build-up and a penultimate scene that make sense when taken into context (which is more than I can say for Mr Shaymalan's The Village). Naomi Watts plays Rachel Keller well to the point that it is very easy to share Rachel's despair and confusion as she tries to help Aidan but doesn't know how. This movie isn't about scaring the audience as much as it wants the audience to share Rachel's fears and determination, just as it wants the audience to share Rachel's horror when she realizes that getting rid of Samara may also mean killing her son. While at first this dilemma seems like a clear-cut issue of black-and-white morality, the movie eventually blurs the boundaries between black and white to the point that Rachel starts entertaining the possibility that she has to kill Aidan - and therefore ends up in the same position as the maligned mother of Samara in the original movie - and the whole psychological conflict Rachel is experiencing is actually very compelling to watch.

By the way, Simon Baker is wasted utterly in this movie. If you watch this movie for him and only him, you'll wish that you have done something more productive with your time once the movie is over.

At the end of the day, The Ring Two won't deliver the chills and therefore disappoint a great number of people who are expecting a sequel that follows the mindless scary train ride of the original. But there is an unexpectedly poignant story here of a mother's conflicted emotions as she tries to save her son from evil. Fans of psychological horror drama may want to give this movie a look and skip the original movie while fans of straightforward horror movies may want to do the reverse. For me, The Ring Two is one of those movies that I walk in without expecting too much from it but end up loving. Another horror movie that had the same effect on me would be the cult favorite Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen movie Candyman (the original, not the sequels). Sometimes this kind of serendipity is the best kind of surprise, which is why I am glad that I took a chance and watched this movie.

Rating: 88

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