In 2002, Dreamworks decided to remake a Japanese horror film by the name of Ringu. The film was released in Japan in 1998 and was a massive hit. In 2002, American audiences were treated to The Ring and this remake starring Naomi Watts was also a hit. A few years after The Ring was released, producers decided to cash in on its success and released The Ring Two. This sequel made just a little more than half the box office return of the first film. Now, in 2017, we have Rings, another sequel which has not done well at all. With two sequels not faring well at the box office, the question must be asked: Did The Ring really need a sequel?
Ringu was based on a 1991 novel of the same name, and the film was such a success that it spawned a sequel and even a prequel in 2000. But that begs yet another question, why was Ringu successful enough in Japan to garner two more films but the American sequels just missed the point? Part of the reason for its popularity in Japan is because, as I recently learned, the urban legend of a video tape that kills you after you watch it is a real Japanese urban legend that has been around for many years. This writer has not seen the Japanese films so I can’t really compare the two series but what I can do is compare the American films (at least the first two).
The Ring is about a video tape that, after you watch it, you receive a phone calling saying “seven days” and then you die. The premise sounds fairly stupid, but there was something about this film that worked so well. First off, it was a PG-13 rated horror film. Back in 2002, that was kind of unheard of. That was before the PG-13 craze we still live in today that gave us a PG-13 rated Die Hard film among others so that the studio could market the films to a younger audience and make a higher profit. But who says you can’t have a PG-13 horror film and have it be good? While I think that most horror films should be R-rated, PG-13 can work too, depending on the subject matter. The Ring worked incredibly well as a PG-13 film. There was an eeriness to it that I’m sure was borrowed heavily from its Japanese counterpart, and I think that’s why it worked so well. The film is very gray and dreary looking and you actually feel uneasy while watching the film because of this.
The Ring Two was released in 2005 and tried to capitalize on the success of The Ring, even having the film be directed by Ringu director Hideo Nakata. So, when I finally sat down to watch it, I figured it was going to be just as good as the first one, maybe even a little better. I was very, very wrong. The film starts out feeling like a common American slasher film, but with the video tape (which was an almost dead technology by this time) in place of a killer. Being a huge fan of slasher films, I was very happy with the opening and ready for the film. After that it became a hodgepodge of copying the first film and not knowing what to do with the rest of it. I seriously felt like I was watching them just make it up as they went along.
The Ring Two is one of the worst films I have ever seen, at no point did it feel like a comprehensive film. The video tape appears in the beginning and then it’s all about how the girl in the video is somehow still attacking Naomi Watts’ character even though at the end of The Ring she had rid herself of the video by passing it on to someone else. This film is a mess, with a scene of deer (produced by some of the worst CGI ever seen by human eyes) that continue to attack the car Watts is driving. I seriously had no clue what was going on in this film.
In preparation for writing this article I had planned on rewatching the first film, watching the second for the first time and finishing up with Rings. The Ring Two was so bad that I canceled any plan to see the third film. So, coming back to the question of did The Ring need a sequel? It’s this writer’s opinion that it absolutely 100% did not. I’m a huge fan of sequels, even bad sequels. I’m a huge fan of ’80s slasher films after all. But, The Ring was a great horror film and it ended just fine, there was absolutely no reason to make another one, let alone a third. The critical response for the second film wasn’t good and should have been a tip off for the filmmakers. Why make a third one over 10 years after the second? And how exactly do you make a sequel to a film where a video tape kills you after watching it without recreating the exact same film? I don’t think the filmmakers could even answer that question.