Directed by Nakata Hideo, starring Nakatana Miki, Fukada Kyoko, Sanada Hiroyuki, Masahiko Ono and Rikiya Otaka.

Following close on the heels of 1998's 'Ring' - both in its release date and in the film's time-span, beginning as it does mere hours after the closing moments of 'Ring' – 'Ring 2' signals the return of 'Japan's scariest director' Nakata Hideo. On release, 'Ring' garnered comparisons to 'The Blair Witch Project', with the consensus being that Orient had outshone Occident in bringing atmospheric, spine-tingling horror to the big screen. However, although 'Ring 2' is undoubtedly superior to such turgid sequels as 'Book of Shadows': Blair Witch 2', it is questionable whether this instalment of the 'Ring' trilogy maintains the high quality of the first.

'Ring 2' continues the investigation of an urban legend wherein a cursed video circulates, killing all of those privy to its contents within a week unless they extend its ring of viewers by passing the tape on. Presupposing the audience's acquaintance with its predecessor, 'Ring 2' doesn't go out of its way to fill-in the background for the uninitiated viewer, re-introducing plot-lines and a plethora of characters with only cursory explanation. The lethal video continues to circulate, the death-toll rises, and the body of Sadako, a psychic from whom the video is thought to have originated, is found in mysterious circumstances. News-reporter Okazaki (Masahiko Ono) joins Mai Takano (Nakatana Miki) - former lover of Ryuji, victim of the video curse in 'Ring' - to investigate the phenomenon and to protect Yoichi (Rikiya Otaka), Ryuji son, from the fate of his father.

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Suzuki Koji, an author who has been cited as Japan’s answer to Stephen King and Clive Barker, 'Ring 2' attempts to convey an ancient style of myth for the technological age, with mixed results. As flimsy as the film's basic premise is, Hideo's direction and the film's reliance on the atmospheric rather than the visual succeeds in creating an often sinister psychological thriller, with occasional unintentional comic relief provided by some noir-ish ham acting. Unfortunately 'Ring 2' fails to live up to the expectations created by its predecessor, serving more as a footnote to the original than a film in its own right. Don't hold your breath for 'Ring 3', currently in pre-production.

Nickie Byrne