Disappointment, Part 1

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So, I saw The Ring Two last night.

What a bummer. It was turgid, ill-conceived, repetitive, and – worst of all – just not scary. I had sort of feared this, but was hoping to get something else. The sequel is directed by Hideo Nakata, the director of the original Japanese version of the story, Ringu.

I just didn’t like Ringu that much. It wasn’t scary at all – even as much as I wanted it to be – which made the deep fear that the U.S. remake inspired so pleasing. But given that Nakata had disappointed me once before, I feared he would do the same here. And he did.

Clearly he knows how to scare people. After all, Ringu has been remade nearly 100 times in Asia in only 7 years and the film was a huge hit. Clearly he did something right.

I’m starting to think, though, that he knows how to scare people with an Asian cultural background, not a Western/American background.

Horror and what scares us has a lot to do with the fabric of associations, assumptions, biases, preferences, and styles passed to us, almost unconsciously, by our cultures. As such, some things that are likely to scare Americans won’t scare Asians or Africans or, even, Bulgarians. And vice versa.

It’s not a racial thing, it’s just that some things don’t translate well across people with different expectations and assumptions.

Or maybe it’s just that there’s only one good story in The Ring. That’s possible, maybe even probable, since Ehren Kruger wrote both scripts and the first was great, whereas the second found the main characters doing stupid things and looking for reasons to exist.

Either way, The Ring Two was a major disappointment for me. Nary a single scary moment, rehashed ideas, leaving aside the most interesting parts of the mythology (the tape, the TV, etc. etc.). Even special effects make-up god Rick Baker’s work, which was crucial to the success of the original, looked anemic.

I’ll let you know if I fare any better with The Jacket when I see it.


  • Kevin Church says:

    Two things:
    1) I just added a link to you, so look out.

    2) I think a lot of Japanese horror works spectacularly well because they isolate the protagonists from the regular “Japanese” world entirely by using empty homes or near-empty towns or they use the urban compression to the exact opposite, but still horrifying effect. If you’ve not seen Spirals or Suicide Club as examples of both, I’d really recommend them.

  • Sam Costello says:

    Thanks for the link, Kevin.

    I think I saw Suicide Club. And is Spiral the same as Uzumaki? If so, I agree with you in theory, but I didn’t really like either of those movies.

    Of course, I’m crumudgeonly. 🙂