It's a DVD extra, basically. It's a short film that I found on my DVD of The Ring Two, although it also appeared on a special edition DVD of the first American Ring shortly before the theatrical release of its sequel. It's a prologue to The Ring Two, which means it's a prologue to a sequel of a remake of an adaptation of the first novel in a series. I hope that makes everything clear?
In short, it explains how those two teenagers at the beginning got together with their video tape. This is highly welcome, since watching only Ring Two will convince you that the boy's retarded. I mean, really. Survival skills, dude. However here we discover that he's fallen in with a subculture of freaks and goths who get a kick out of watching Samara's killer video deliberately. They film themselves, encourage themselves to hold out for as long as possible and even have a website on which you can discuss it. In the meantime, you can experience all kinds of hallucinations and supernatural experiences. Who needs drugs when you can dice with death? The trick is to lure in someone else before your seven days expire, along with you.
This is a whacked-out idea and I bet the Ring Two producers thought of turning it into a full-blown movie before giving up and going with their eventual storyline. As a sixteen-minute short film, it's cool. As a 110-minute feature, it would have sucked hairy donkey balls. You see, our hero could have theoretically got his curse lifted whenever he liked, just by finding some other poor sucker and luring them in instead. You can just about wring sixteen minutes out of that, but no more. Even as it stands, you couldn't call this a plot-driven narrative. He doesn't even die at the end! He's got to be around for Ring Two, remember? Instead it's merely a look at what it's like to be in his shoes as the days tick away and the phenomena get weirder. There's so much style in this film that some people would probably call it experimental. Sometimes it borrows the form of a video diary. At other times, we get weird fish-eye distortion and wobbling images as if we really are underwater, going beyond even the stylistic tricks of The Ring. That was quite interesting.
What's more, they manage to avoid the sense of "same old, same old" that could easily have weighed them down. We've seen Samara's tricks before and we know where it's all going. Fortunately they have one or two new ideas to go with the old favourites, one of them being a satisfyingly logical response to the problem of Samara coming at you from your TV. It doesn't work, but it's still fun to see. I also liked the water falling sideways.
Surprisingly it's not about Samara. She appears, but she barely exists as a person in this one. None of the characters know anything about her and thus nor do we. You also couldn't call it a character-based piece, although it does have its moments. The Ring cultists turn out to be bigger bastards than I'd expected, while there's something rather sweet and pathetic about Emily misunderstanding Jake's motives in inviting her around to watch a video. "Are you asking me out?" Ahahahahaha, no. Emily's played by one Emily VanCamp (hmm), who seems to be doing very well for herself in television, while I was convinced I recognised the actor playing Jake. His name's Ryan Merriman and looking up his CV suggests that I must have been mistaking him with someone else, notwithstanding his role in Halloween Resurrection. Or maybe my brain was getting confused from recently having seen him in Ring Two? Anyway, the performances are all fine. This isn't an actors' piece, but they still have to achieve the required level of intensity while maintaining an illusion of realism.
Would I recommend this? I suppose so. It has a strong central idea and it doesn't wear out its welcome. It doesn't have much of an ending, but that was probably inevitable since it's basically a teaser for the real feature. Besides, you'll probably have it on the same disc as Ring Two anyway. It's spooky. I'm glad I saw it.