Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rasen - 1.5/5

Despite the existence of a film titled Ringu 2, Rasen is actually the first sequel to the Japanese box-office smash Ringu. I, like many others, was confused by this at first. How could there be a Ringu 2 if there was already a sequel. Was Rasen that bad that they decided to completely ignore it? Curiosity got the best of me and I had to view this "forgotten" sequel to Ringu just to see why the filmmakers decided to march on with the franchise treating this film like it never existed.

Doing a little research before viewing I was astounded to find out that this sequel was filmed back-to-back with Ringu and actually released at the exact same time in theaters. Both films had different directors but each film shared the same producers, some of the same actors, and even both were based on novels by the same author. The purpose was to generate a little more publicity buzz but like expected it backfired. Ringu went on to be a huge hit where Rasen floundered and then became a box office dud. At first I thought the failure of the film had to be due to the fact that it was released at the same time as Ringu. It was based on the novel by the same author of Ringu and the novel was an official sequel. It couldn't be because it was BAD... could it? Well to my surprise after viewing the film I see every reason why the filmmakers of the franchise pretend this film doesn't exist... because this film turns into a complete disaster.

Rasen, which means "spiral", starts off with a doctor who's attempting suicide because of the death of his son. He pulls out of his depression and goes to work only to find out he has to do an autopsy on the body of an old friend from college. His old chum happens to be the ex-husband character from Ringu who was killed by the curse of Sadako. They find he passed away due to a tumor in his heart. In comes a reporter to talk to the doctor saying he found the journal of the reporter from the first film describing the curse of the video tape. Not surprisingly a duplicate of the tape is found and our doctor watches the damn thing and he has to find out how to stop the curse before he becomes it's next victim.

The film starts off fine enough but over halfway into it the plot became a total shitstorm of ridiculous plot twists that totally go against the rules and feel established in Ringu. The first three things that this sequel does wrong is that the corpses from the original no longer have the frozen face of terror. That was one of the best aspects of the original and they totally blow over that fact. The second problem is that they give Sadako a face here instead of having her hair keep her face hidden, adding to the creep factor. Giving her a sadistic, almost sardonic face makes the film lose any scare or creep factor. The third problem is the film is NOT creepy or scary. These however are only the MINOR problems with this sequel. The major problem is they turn a good old fashioned ghost story into some science fiction bullshit that involves viruses and DNA. Apparently whoever watches the "cursed" tape or reads of its curse contracts a virus... if you can believe that. People are no longer scared to death.... they now develop a tumor in their heart. The film hits absolute bottom when our "ghostly" Sadako becomes reborn when our main doc character has sex and his partner gives birth to a clone of herself that has the spirit of Sadako!? What the fuck! Not only that she helps the doc clone his dead son in her womb! Again, what the fuck! By the end of the film I was holding my head in my hands asking myself how the filmmakers could turn a ghost story film into absolute science fiction horseshit! I can't remember the last time I've seen a sequel take such a drastic turn in events and completely contradict everything established in the original by hitting the the plot, not only way into left field, but over the fence and into the parking lot!

After viewing Rasen I completely agree with the filmmakers ignoring the film and getting back on track with the ghost story basics in Ringu 2. I find this sequel guilty of going against everything that made Ringu suspenseful and creepy and it's now rendered only as a curiosity piece for film-buffs, like me, to see why it is a "forgotten" sequel. I still can't believe the author that wrote the original wrote this sequel which tarnishes the legend of Sadako. It left me saddened, pissed off standing in a pile of my lost humanity. The only reason I gave this film 1.5 stars as opposed to 1 is it actually isn't poorly made. The style, the acting are all good. It's just the damn plot! I only recommend this to the most curious of Ringu fans. All others are hereby warned to skip it.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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