The Ring 2

Vast improvement on the American remake, mainly because they hired Nakata to do it. Nakata doesn't remake his Japanese sequel (which veers into a complex science-fiction tangent, tho it does have a few memorable sequences), but instead takes an idea or two from the original novel on which Ringu was based: namely, that Sadako's (Samara, here) main purpose isn't to merely kill people but to propagate herself.

The film is a quite eloquent rebuke as to the proper method of creating Japanese horror--Nakata takes many of Gore Verbinski's visual motifs (the seeping water, the tree, the housefly, the woman falling off a cliff) and makes them his own; they're all here, but they're all different, part of a consistent and far creepier vision. We learn more about Samara--we learn of her feelings towards water, we learn more of her mother, we learn of her ultimate goal (which, however, is a watered-down version of what she wants in the novel).

Nakata takes a consistent and coherent script (yep, more coherent than even his Ringu original), fashions warmer characters (we understand the relationship between Rachel and her son more, and better still, empathize with them better, than with the heroine and her son in Ringu), and gives us his trademark feel for atmosphere and understated menace. The sound design also feels more like his--the way he uses scare sound effects in a restrained manner, the way he uses prolonged silence to heighten terror. He doesn't even forget to throw in the odd, somehow unsettling touch--a pink balloon caught in a tree.

It's not as outright frightening as Ringu, mainly because the freshness and surprise is gone, but it's an honorable, well-made successor (better, I'd say than Shimizu's incoherent The Grudge, both versions).

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