The Ring Two

(Hideo Nakata, USA, 2005)


Usually in American movies, if a disturbed child begins the story by calling his mother by her first name, you can safely bet he will end up crying out: “Mommy!”


In The Ring Two, however, this convention is delightfully reversed. Little Aidan (David Dorfman) is being himself when he addresses his mother (Naomi Watts) as Rachel. But whenever he pines for a Mommy, he is channelling the spirit of the same child, Samara, who haunted The Ring (2002).


Although this American series is based on the excellent Japanese film Ring (1998), and now has on board the original director, Hideo Nakata, The Ring Two departs entirely from all previous versions of the story.


Screenwriter Ehren Kruger redeems himself for the sins he committed in The Ring. Grasping Nakata’s deepest themes, he turns The Ring Two into an intense exploration of what it means for a parent to care for a child – and those strange moments when the maternal impulse can transform itself into a murderous wish.


What all previous Ring films are best known for – creepy stuff with daggy, domestic videocassettes and telephones – disappears from this movie after the obligatory, recapitulatory prelude. Instead, Nakata gives us an unnerving set-piece with a herd of deer, and low-key imagery of a disturbed everyday that recalls ‘60s-era Roman Polanski. Watts handles a difficult, enigmatic role with aplomb, and the great Sissy Spacek has a tremendous, Carrie-inflected cameo.


This is the best and most satisfying American horror movie since The Others (2001). A striking correlation: both films are about the ambiguities of motherhood, and both are directed by non-Americans.


MORE Spacek: In the Bedroom, The Mommy Market

© Adrian Martin March 2005

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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