Sight and Sound - 05/01/2005
"[T]his is a horror picture that does its job. Nakata knows how to assemble a scare sequence...working up the quiet moments, stranding his characters alone in odd environments and playing up the unnerving aspects."
In this horror sequel from Japanese master Hideo Nakata, the curse of the videotape returns. Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) and her son Aiden (David Dorfman) move from Seattle after their first terrible run-in with the tortured evil spirit Samara, relocating to Oregon. Attempting to make a fresh start, Rachel takes a job as a crime reporter at the local newspaper, instantly establishing a pluckily competitive friendship with colleague Max Rourke (Simon Baker). But when it turns out Samara (Kelly Stables) has followed their trail, taking out innocent teens along the way with her old videotape tricks, Rachel dives right back into the mystery. But Samara gets to her son Aiden first. And as a budding photographer in his own right, with a nifty digital camera that he takes everywhere, Aiden quickly finds his own way to harness the relentless ghost. This time, along with the familiar video imagery and spooky clues from the first film, there is a lot of flooding going on. Water pours from television sets, doorways, and especially bathtubs. In addition, there are special effects involving some undead deer who, like Samara, seem to want respite for their wrongful deaths. Sissy Spacek makes a cameo as a religious mental patient in a creepy institution. But it is Watts who steals the show as the fearless uber-mom who digs through the cobwebbed basement of a haunted house, plunges to the bottom of a slimy well, and dances with death in an attempt to stop the perpetual cycle.