One year after the success of his genre-defining horror classic Ringu, director Hideo Nakata (Dark Water) returned to the world of viral video to deliver his own follow-up, re-teaming with much of his original cast and creative team. Picking up where its predecessor left off, Ringu 2 finds Mai (Miki Nakatani, Silk) on the trail of the missing Reiko, Ringu's heroine, following a string of deaths in which she appears to be implicated. Teaming up with one of Reiko's former colleagues, Mai delves ever deeper into urban legend surrounding the cursed videotape... and soon finds herself incurring the wrath of Sadako's vengeful spirit.
This brand new high definition release of Ringu 2 also includes Ringu's Tost original sequel, George lida's Spiral, which offers an alternative continuation of the saga.
Available exclusively as of now in Arrow Video’s box set Ringu Collection, Hideo Nakata’s Ringu 2 is presented on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. Whereas Ringu received a new 4K restoration from Arrow, Ringu 2 makes use of a pre-existing master supplied by Kadakowa Pictures. While it’s nowhere near the level of quality Ringu’s digital presentation offers there is still a lot to pleased with here, and it’s thankfully nothing like what we got for Dark Water and Pulse.
Having said that it’s clear this is still an older, dated master. Grain is there but it’s not as sharp or as cleanly rendered Ringu’s offering. It can have a more digital, noisy look, but it’s mild (though the grain gets a bit harsher during some high-contrast black-and-white sequences). Blacks are also a little muddy so darker scenes can come off a bit flat and crushed. Damage is also a bit of a surprise, with a number of specs of dirt scattered about.
Despite the minor nuisances the image ends up still being pleasing thanks to the fact the image is sharp and highly detailed, most of the time anyways. There are a handful of softer shots but overall the image is very sharp, the finer details even popping, allowing for some strong textures and decent depth. It’s nothing special when all is said and done, but it’s still pleasing enough.
Like the previous film in the set Ringu 2 offers two lossless audio tracks: a 2.0 stereo surround PCM track and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround presentation. They’re both effective and offer an eerie enough experience, coming off crisp and sharp with no notable noise or distortion. Both tracks mix music and effects efficiently through the sound field, but the 5.1 track is, unsurprisingly, more effective in this regard, likewise its use of the lower frequency.
Of the films in the set Ringu 2 kind of gets the shaft, though it does include one substantial extra: the alternate sequel to Ringu, Spiral, directed by Joji Iida.
The film was made simultaneously with Nakata’s Ring, and the two were released together as a double-bill. Unfortunately for Spiral Nakata’s film had an enormous impact, heavily influencing not only horror films in Japan, but also throughout the rest of the world, meaning Iida’s film was going to have huge shoes to fill without anyone realizing it. The film just couldn’t live up to the first film and both audiences and critics came away perplexed and disappointed, and the film disappeared.
Spiral is, tonally and stylistically, a completely different beast in comparison to the first film. This story focuses around a pathologist who becomes entangled in the story of Sadako and the cursed video tape, all after performing an examination on the body on Ryuji Takayama, who fell victim to the curse in the previous film. He eventually crosses paths with Mai (Ryuji’s girlfriend in the first film) and then comes to see the cursed tape himself. As he investigates the video and the deaths around it he starts to suspect there may be a more scientific reason behind it (though I would say more farfetched, but what do I know).
It’s easy to see why audiences would have experienced a sort of whiplash coming to this film from Ring. The first film was an atmospheric horror film filled with tension, dread, and disturbing imagery, while Spiral (though somewhat atmospheric) is a far more serious drama/medical thriller that plays it pretty straight. The first film also left things up in the air while this one sets out to explain everything. It also suffers from not being terribly interesting from a technical/filmmaking perspective, unable to grip its audience like the first film did.
Maybe without being tied to the first film Spiral could have been its own thing but when compared to Ring it comes off terribly mediocre, and it’s not hard to see why it was decided to make another sequel and have Nakata behind the wheel again. But having said that, one can’t really lay any blame on Iida as the studio had both films made at the same time (with different people leading the creative team) and there was no sharing of information between the two productions. Iida liked the novel on which Spiral was based and decided to stay true to the source, while Nakata and his screenwriter took a lot of liberties on Ring’s source, so just from that perspective there is a huge disconnect. Nakata was also intent on making a horror film, while the original novels were science-fiction, which Iida stuck with. Considering just those things this film was pretty much doomed to be lost in Ring’s shadow.
After all that, though, I have to say the film also serves as an interesting comparison to the Nakata sequel. Since Spiral apparently sticks true to the original novel (I haven’t read it, so I can only base this on the comments made throughout special features in this set) it’s interesting to see what elements made it into Nakata’s version. Ringu 2 does have a heavier science element, and also takes a few plot points and moments, but again Nakata is interested more in making a horror film, so that aspect is amped up more, keeps the sciences in the background, and he again prefers to a have a woman as the main protagonist, dropping the pathologist from Spiral, promoting Mai front and center (her character also has a very different arc in Spiral). I’m actually not terribly fond of either sequel (though both are better than the American sequel) but chances are I’ll end up watching Nakata’s sequel again before this one.
Rather surprisingly the presentation for Spiral is pretty strong, obviously an older high-def master but almost on par with Ringu 2, just more specs of dirt and debris. It also comes with a 2.0 stereo surround PCM presentation and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround track.
Disappointingly there isn’t much else to be found here, nothing specifically around the main feature itself. There is a 25-minute interview with author Koji Suzuki, which looks to have been recorded around the time of Ringu 2’s release. Here Suzuki talks about his novels, his influences, how he writes, and shares his thoughts on the film adaptations (though he hadn’t seen Nakata’s sequel yet). The disc then closes with a bunch of trailers, including the UK trailer, a double-bill trailer for Ringu 2 and Shikoku, and then one of the Ring/Spiral double-bill trailer found on the disc for the first film.
Though getting the original sequel is really a great addition (despite how one might feel about that film) I’m still a little bummed that this film didn’t receive the same love the other two films did; even Ringu 0 gets some more academic material.
Despite using an older restoration the film still comes off looking decent enough, but the features end up being the most disappointing in the set as it gets shafted from receiving any academic material that is found on the discs for the other titles. At the very least it comes with the alternate sequel Spiral, which makes for an interesting comparison if not much else.