RING 2 and RING 0: BIRTHDAY. A SUPERNATURAL DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
RING 2. 1999. STORY BY KOJI SUZUKI. DIRECTED BY HIDEO NAKATA. STARRING MIKI NAKATANI AND RIKIYA OTAKA.
RING 0: BIRTHDAY. 2000. BASED ON 'LEMON HEART' BY KOJI SUZUKI. DIRECTED BY NORIO TSURUTA. STARRING YUKIE NAKAMA AND SEIICHI TANABE.
The original RING (RINGU) film from 1998 was probably the film that gave birth to a new era of Japanese horror films. It also gave us Sadako, the poor creature who was thrown down a well and left to die by her mother's psychiatrist husband and who gets revenge on people by crawling out of television screens and killing 'em a week after they've watched a haunted videotape. If that sounds strange to you, well, it's all a rich tapestry, haha.
RING 2 is a direct continuation of RING. It picks up the story almost where the first film left off. A young woman called Mai Takano and a journalist called Okazaki are searching for answers to the mysteries left unsolved in the first movie. For one thing, where is Reiko, the reporter whose husband and father were both killed by Sadako after separately watching the haunted videotape?
The search for Reiko leads Mai straight to Reiko's little son Yoichi, an adorable kid with psychic tendencies who appears to be channelling Sadako. Obviously, this isn't a good thing and the kid's gonna need to be exorcised. Just another normal day in crazy old RING-town, haha.
The film is confusing as hell and I didn't really enjoy it, to tell you the truth. There isn't even much horror in it, which is disappointing and kind of defeats the purpose. Sadako in the well at the end is the only cool bit in the whole film.
I preferred RING 0: BIRTHDAY, which is a prequel to the original RING. Yes, yes, I know it's the last film in the RING trilogy but it's really the first story of all, set as it is thirty years before the original film. Are you confused yet? You and me both, film fans. You and me both...
We get to meet Sadako as a human girl living in the world of human beings in this film. She gets the lead role in a play after the leading lady is mysteriously bumped off by a long-haired figure dressed all in white. A long-haired figure dressed all in white...? Hmmm, it surely doesn't take a genius to work out who that could have been.
The director of the play, Shigemori, who'd been involved with the dead woman, is all over the beautiful Sadako like a rash, as is the sound guy, Toyama. Personally I think that Sadako is mopey, miserable and about as exciting as a glass of tap water, but apparently she's sexually irresistible to these two men. Ah well. You know men. They go where their genitals dictate, haha.
The rest of the troupe distrust and fear Sadako, however, and they blame her for the death of their friend and co-worker. The show must go on, though. What does the play's opening night hold for Sadako? And will Sadako's parentage, more specifically her unknown father, have any bearing on what happens next?
You remember in the first film that we found out a little bit about Sadako's daddy? 'Frolic in brine, goblins be thine...?' You remember that bit, right? Well, it's about to become crucially important. We are what our parents made us, right? Well, Sadako had a nice normal (albeit psychic) mother and, well, a demon straight from the depths of the ocean for a baby-daddy. That was always going to cause complications down the line and guess what? Here they come, right on time...
I preferred this film to RING 2 because of the Sadako-Shigemori-Toyama love triangle. I'm a sucker for a doomed love story. Overall, however, I would have preferred it if both stories concentrated on people watching the haunted videotape and then being killed a week later by Sadako crawling out of their television sets. That's a great storyline and it's why I love the original RING film. The ONE MISSED CALL films have a similar plot and I absolutely love them to bits.
Instead, both RING follow-ups veer off wildly in other directions and the results are very much a mixed bag. Still, if you're a fan of the original film you'll almost certainly get something out of watching these two sequels. Just make sure it's not a haunted videotape you're left with. That, as we say in the vernacular, would be an epic fail...
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at: