Mysterious videotapes, ominous phone calls, a girl drowned at the bottom of a well, and Naomi Watts were more than enough elements to catapult 2002's The Ring into an American horror film phenomenon. Based on the Japanese film series Ringu, the Ehren Kruger penned American version not only opened up the mythology, but it also ushered in the current cycle of supernatural horror films with a distinct Japanese flavor.
Naturally, Ring Two was a given, with Kruger back at the writing reins while Ringu's original creator and helmer, Hideo Nakata, was brought aboard to direct this American sequel.
"Our first task was to decide whether it would be more interesting to follow the story of the videotape or to follow the story of Rachel and Aidan [Naomi Watts and David Dorfman]," says Kruger. "We ultimately decided they were compelling enough characters to track their lives after the end of the first film and ensure that some bad things happened to them."
CINESCAPE finally had a chance to get caught up with the busy Kruger to discuss Ring Two and about being the go-to-guy when it comes to horror.
Do you like being the horror guy?
I only wrote a Scream movie because the original writer had to drop out, and I was not the studio's first choice to write The Ring. But I do like the genre and plan to continue to work in it off-and-on.
Do you prefer the self-referential type of horror in the Scream movies or the more surrealistic horror of the Ring movies?
I prefer horror movies that make me uncomfortable, through mind games as opposed to gore
How different is it working with a Japanese director who is remaking his own movie?
Hideo Nakata was wonderfully thoughtful, polite and focused on his craft. However, I do think he found it curious how often the script would get revised with scenes being changed, sometimes substantially, the day before, or the morning of, the shoot. Some, but not all, movies develop a rhythm like that and initially it was new to him, but by halfway through the shoot he'd be the one asking for changes on tomorrow's pages. So he ultimately fit right in.
Was it strange suddenly working with the director of the original films you had adapted?
Hideo was very respectful of our remake. After all, a few shots were copied verbatim, so he should be. And he liked the horse sequence, he admitted that much. In all seriousness, we were honored that he'd direct the sequel, and he was a tremendous resource in helping us understand what it is about this story that makes it translate so well across cultural lines. He really began this J-horror wave, and he couldn't be more modest about it.
How much did Hideo bring to the table creatively and script-wise when he came aboard?
Hideo was very, very clear about what he felt Samara would or would not do, what she could or couldn't control, and how and when she would manifest herself. Remember, he's lived with that little girl for a long, long time. He also made some fairly substantial changes to the structure of the last act. And he devised replacements for a fair bit of imagery that was originally in the script. He has very specific theories on what is scary and what is cheap, and he's not big on cheap. He also really imposed his visual style and pace on the movie although it does move a little quicker than his Japanese films.
The Ring 2 was released on DVD in August 2005.