The Spiral (1998)

Class: User
Author: Hank Xavier
Score: (2/5)
August 28th, 2006 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

Ring (1998) was a great success, often considered as one of the best Japanese horror movies. It didn't take time for the creators to attempt cashing in with it. And so The Spiral was actually started before Ring (1998) was finished; with a different cast and crew of course. Joji Ida took the directing chair, and was also given the assignment to write a screenplay that could bear continuity with Koji Suzuki's novel. The result was disastrous. Audiences reacted in an impolite way to the all new original sequel; and producers decided to bury the film, and pretend it never happened. A year later, Ring 2 (1999) was released as an official sequel, but by the time it came, the whole series had lost its impact. See why mistakes shouldn't be taken for granted?

It appears that Professor Mitsuo Ando has been having problems with his life lately. Suicide attempts caused by the guilt of his son's death lead the scientist into some bad state. But all of a sudden, he receives a phone-call which communicates him about Ryuji's death. Besides being the male lead from the first film, Ryuji was also a colleague from Ando years ago; but some differences interfered between their friendships, and never saw each again. Ando performs an autopsy on his ex-partner, and finds no cause of death. Instead he has a horrendous vision of Ryuji awakening from his death to tease Ando for his incompetence. Soon he enters Ryjui's department and finds Sadako's videotape. He watches it and…

Confused? I bet you will when you watch the whole thing. Now this has to be one of the weirdest movies yet. Its fair amount of plot holes and odd scenarios makes this officially a dead end. No clues to what happens are given (or a least noticed), and all of the characters seem to react in a non-realistic way. The plot is given a science twist, departing from the supernatural premise of Ring (1998). This of course also changes the film's overall tone, and makes it more officially a sci-fi movie rather than horror. But none of the scientific theories depicted make much sense however, and this causes some monotony that soon becomes annoying, and kills the reason to keep watching it.

The acting was substantially flawed, having poor performances on almost every corner of the feature. Koichi Sato manages to create an almost pointless character, that doesn't appear to be the lead. The same goes for Miki Nakatani, reprising her role as Mai Takano, who like in the first film doesn't sport much importance on behalf of the viewer. The only real difference is that she appears in most of the film. Mr. Sanada is back, as the doomed male lead from the previous installment. This time however, he appears to be reluctant to act in a proper way, as his character lacks everything he had in the first film.

Frights are absent. There isn't even a remote attempt at making the audience feel uneasy. This is even more evident than in the American remake of Ring (1998). But this time we don't even get jumps, amusing moments, anything. Sadako herself appears as a sexy-type ghost rather than a cursed one. In one scene she even tries to seduce the main character.

We even get to see some gore this time; in fact it's the only factor that reminds us this is a horror movie. But what we see looks too fake, even for a low budget film. And for the record, the little amount it has really calls for having none at all, but well, this movie was made like this, and so it must be endured. Granted is that if the movie had been a gore-fest, it at least would have had something worth to watch.

Even the music fails to work swell here. Many are given inadequate themes that don't even attempt to be frightening, while we do get a fistful of romantic cues, which even make their way into the main title. There is no reminiscence from the music of Ring (1998), not a single piece that may remind the audience that this is a sequel, but we have to remember that Kenji Kawai was busy while this movie was made, but there is no doubt that if he had composed the score for it; it would have added something to the film. However, as a standalone experience, the music can be entertaining perhaps, but it's certainly not the best way to score a horror film.

Despite all of this, it is still a piece in the puzzle, if not the worst one. Ring (1998) was never equaled by its sequels, and what this one manages to do is to redeem Ring 2 (1999), and probably the American version. Besides that, it's a bore-fest, and the only reason why it could be considered watchable, is because of some details that were left untied in the first film; which do get some (nonsense) explanation here.