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'The Ring': Ready for Round 2

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 18, 2005; Page WE45

TWO EVENTS HAVE conspired to ensure the return of that creepy girl in the well from 2002's "The Ring."

1) She craves a surrogate mother -- much like Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), the Seattle reporter who, with her son, Aidan (David Dorfman), escaped the ghost girl's deadly curse in the original movie.

Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts, left) faces the evil Samara (Kelly Stables) once again in "The Ring Two," a sequel to the 2002 horror film "The Ring." (Gemma La Mana -- Dreamworks Pictures)

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2) "The Ring" grossed almost $130 million domestic.

Ah, but let us not be shocked at the inexhaustible ability of movie producers to go back to the well until it echoes with bone-dry emptiness. Let's consider "The Ring Two," which certainly has its creepy qualities, judging by the three women behind me at a recent screening who perforated my ear drums regularly with their screams.

Let us also not be floored that "Ring Deux" isn't as good as the first film, which was itself an Americanized retake of Hideo Nakata's super creepy 1998 Japanese film, "Ringu," which also had a sequel. But there are good things to point out. The latest movie is directed by Nakata, who makes his American debut. And this guy knows from scary.

To recap the story thus far: Rachel discovered that a number of people (including her niece) have died after watching a videotape. After anyone watches the spooky, black-and-white content, featuring a scary woman and the young girl, a phone call tells the victim he or she is going to die after seven days. Rachel found out the story behind this: The young girl Samara was killed by her adoptive parents and that videotape is the equivalent of a vengeful chain letter. Watch it and you're dead, or pass it on to someone else and let them die instead. It's a lovely take-home message for humanity.

By copying the tape and thereby passing the death buck, Rachel saved her son from joining the list of victims. Mom and Aidan have now escaped to a quiet community in Oregon. But six months later, Samara is back. People are dying -- by videotape. And things literally hit home when Rachel realizes Samara wants to invade the body of Aidan so she can be part of the family, too.

Basically, this is a campy scream-a-thon in which you can alternate between freaking and cackling. For instance, Rachel is supposed to be this incredibly protective mother. But she thinks nothing of leaving Aidan in a bath at her boss's house with the water running while she drives back to their old house to pick up some things. Helloooo? Rachel, did we not learn a few things about water and wells along the way? Have we not seen a jillion horror movies involving bathtubs? And that Samara (Kelly Stables), she knows how to scuttle up and down a well wall when she wants to. (She reminded my wife of Smeagol, a character from some other "Ring" movie.) So there it is. It's hardly the best film in the world but you can have fun with it. And speaking of uncanny resemblances, look for Sissy Spacek to play a significant role. With her pale face, the upturned nose and hair over her eyes, she made me think of Michael Jackson. Boy, these filmmakers sure know how to scare a guy.

THE RING TWO (PG-13, 111 minutes) -- Contains violence and terror, disturbing images, obscenity and a lot of rug water damage. Area theaters.

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