How do you follow up one of the most successful and influential J-horrors ever made? Simple, give us more of the same. While expanding on the backstory of the villain and the mystery of the videotape. Ring 2 (Ringu 2) was once again directed by Hideo Nakata but was not the first sequel to the original.
Whereas Ring was adapted from the novel written by Koji Suzuki, Ring 2 was not. Instead originally the book sequel, Rasen (Spiral) was adapted and released in 1998 the same year as the original movie. However, the response to Rasen/Spiral was not good so Ring 2, a sequel not based off Suzuki’s work was devised and released in 1999.
Is it better then Rasen/Spiral? Absolutely it is but does it top the original? No but it’s not without promise and some of the series’ most chilling moments.
This sequel begins only a few weeks after the events of the first film. Sadako’s body has been retrieved from the well and forensics have determined that she may have survived down there for 30 years. A shocking start.
Following the death of Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada), his ex-wife Reiko (Nanako Matsushima) has disappeared with their young son. The police are trying to find her especially as her father died a week later too. Those who saw the finale of the original will know just how and why he died.
With Reiko out of the picture, Ryuji’s university assistant takes over the lead role, desperate to find answers to how he died. Mai (Miki Nakatani) did actually appear in the original briefly where her relationship with Ryuji was hinted at. Here it becomes clear that she was in love with him.
Mai believes the answers lie with Reiko so ends up teaming up with Okazaki (Yūrei Yanagi), Reiko’s colleague at the newspaper she worked at. Together they begin to unravel the truth behind the events of the first film and the infamous videotape.
Ring 2 is a film of moments as its story is way more contrived and poorly paced then the first. While it is interesting and adds a lot more detail, it just doesn’t command the attention in the same way. Some of that fault can lie at the feet of the characters, in particular Mai. Miki Nakatani is a great actress and plays a different role then Nanako Matsushima did in the first but she’s just not as interesting. The stakes aren’t as high for her and when they do raise, it feels forced and done for shock value.
There’s a lot more focus on the child of Reiko and Ryuji, a young boy named Yoichi (Rikiya Otaka).
This could have been a serious misstep but a combination of quality acting from the lad and some genuinely dark moments makes his role so much meatier. Both Nanako Matsushima and Hiroyuki Sanada reprise their roles. Although the former gets much more screen time seeing as she didn’t die in the last film. Once again, they are involved in some of the best moments of the film with the latter’s appearance in the finale being a real tear-jerker.
As said above, Ring 2 is a film of moments and when those moments come, they will chill and thrill.
Ring 2 has some of the most frightening scenes and sequences in any J-horror that still make for uncomfortable watching 20 years later. It’s what you’ll remember come the end and makes this a worthy sequel.
J-Horror: Ring 2