March 28, 2005 12:00 PM

Naomi Watts, David Dorfman, Simon Baker

Not content to live well enough alone, young Samara I scampers up once again from her watery home—the well where she was abandoned and died—to exact more vengeance in this moderately creepy sequel to 2002’s The Ring, for those who missed the first movie, Samara (Daveigh Chase) is a ghostly girl who works her evil via a video full of squishy, unsettling images that bring death to the watcher. In Ring Two the chief survivors from the original, journalist Rachel Keller (Watts) and her young son Aidan (Dorfman), move from Seattle to a tiny, peaceful town in Oregon to start a new life. They have barely unpacked their boxes, though, when a local teenager expires after viewing the video. “Please, not here!” begs Rachel, to no avail as Samara is soon on Aidan’s trail. The evidence? Watery spots on the walls and her damp little figure showing up when Aidan looks in a mirror.

Hardcore fans of the original will likely embrace Ring Two, though the story loses steam midway through. Director Hideo Nakata (who headed the original Japanese Ringu, on which the first Ring was based) serves up several spooky set pieces early on, particularly one in which a herd of deer turn murderous. But this sequel is neither as inventive or yelp-out-loud scary as the original and doesn’t warrant a visit by those who normally pass by fright flicks. The always watchable Watts, stuck playing a gal who heads toward danger when common sense would dictate backing away, does the best she can, given the script. Dorfman, a kid who looks 80 and has a grave demeanor to match, is excellent, and Sissy Spacek shows up for a goose-bump-raising cameo. (PG-13)

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