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May 31, 2005 - Image 37

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

By Jeffrey Bloomer
March 21, 2005
In the course of just two films,
Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase), the
tortured, fearsome villain of "The
Ring," has become
1 the stuff of dreams The Ring
(or nightmares) for TR
adolescent Ameri- Two
can horror fans. DreamWorks
Samara is a sort of
postmodern Fred-
dy Kruger whose mere screen pres-
ence elicits overjoyed shrieks from
audiences, and her freaky exploits
continue in "The Ring Two," a sur-
prisingly competent sequel to the
2002 hit that is just about as enter-
taining as it is forgettable.
This time around, overworked
Seattle reporter Rachel (Naomi
Watts, "21 Grams") and her aloof
son Aidan (David Dorfman, "The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre") relocate
to a quiet, coastal Oregon town. They
hope to start their lives over after
their first encounter with Samara,
the little girl from the first film who
was left in a well by her adopted
mother and whose videotape myste-
riously kills viewers seven days after
watching it. But it's not long before
she finds them again, apparently
irked that Rachel has destroyed one
of her now-infamous videocassettes.
From there, the story goes in a
markedly different direction than
that of the first film, moving into a
bizarre tale of possession that takes
heavy cues from "The Exorcist."
Namely, it seems that Samara no
longer wants to kill Aidan, but rath-
er become him. It's easy to identify
the scenes where she has possessed
him because of the film's clever play

The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2005 - 25
'Model' DVD cements
show's cult status

"No Aldan! For the last time: Conditioner is better!"

on words: Aidan refers to his mother
as "Rachel," and so when he starts
calling her "mommy," you know that
shit's about to hit the fan.
The bulk of the remaining story is
spent on dead-end subplots involving
Samara's ever-expanding history and
the often unintentionally funny mis-
adventures of a demonic Aidan, whose
wide-eyed glances alone elevate the
creepy-little-kid factor tenfold.
Like the first film, itself a remake
of the 1998 Japanese horror phe-
nomenon "Ringu," "The Ring
Two's" biggest strength lies in its
accomplished production work. Pro-
pelled by strong performances from
its leads, a moody, mesmerizing
soundtrack and superior photogra-
phy, it is among the more skillfully
stylized and executed instances of
gothic horror in recent years.
The movie also follows an increas-
ing trend in Hollywood, as it is not
only a remake of a foreign horror
flick but also retains the director of
the Japanese original, Hideo Nakata
(as was the case with last fall's "The
Grudge" remake), a wise move that
brings a nuanced visual flair to an
already stylistically impressive film.
As with the first film, however,
the feeble-minded screenplay by
Ehren Kruger ("Scream 3") strains
much of the movie's technical cred-
ibility. Far more disturbing than

any of its horror elements, the film
manipulates each of its mother-child
relationships into murderous lunacy
before completely shifting gears in
the ddnouement in favor of superfi-
cial closure.
And while "The Ring" largely suf-
fered from its tireless 11th-hour plot
explanations and revelations, "The
Ring Two" is a more unrealized nar-
rative that leaves many of its story
aspects conspicuously unresolved,
such as: Is Samara really the result
of some kind of satanic virgin birth
after all?
Though these questions and others
linger when the credits begin to roll,
"The Ring Two" is a sufficiently sat-
isfying sequel that is probably more
spooky than it is actually frighten-
ing but nevertheless functions pre-
cisely as it was intended with only
minimal snags along the way. That
said, an aspect of the series that is
commonly left unexplored is that
of the horrific, deadly VHS tape
emerging conveniently in 1998 -
on the brink of DVD's emergence in
popular culture. A silly observation,
perhaps, but it wouldn't be the first
time the horror genre was used as
social allegory. And now that home
video is all but dead, maybe in "The
Ring Three" Samara will finally
find it prudent to release a round of
her death tapes on DVD.

By Alexandra Jones
April 5, 2005
It's official: The first season of "Amer-
ica's Next Top Model," one of television's
most unintentionally hilarious real-
ity gems, has been
released on DVD. America's
Now in its fourth sea- Next Top
son, "ANTM" takes a Model:
dozen or so "beauti- Cycle I
ful" girls, puts them in
a loft apartment with Paramount
cameras rolling 24/7,
and attempts to shape them into models
and shows the process on UPN.
Cycle 1 remains the most preciously
ridiculous season. Producers selected 10
girls to compete and one contestant is
eliminated each week until the final three
face off in a high-fashion runway show.
Cycle l's judges include hostess/super-
model/Creator of the Universe Tyra Banks
and one of the world's first supermodels,
ex-cokehead Janice Dickinson, whose
catty comments alone ("This looks like
she escaped from a mental institution," or
the classic"Itlookslike youhave apenis.")
make the show a must-see. Each week, the
girls learn technique (like strutting on the
runway), compete in a challenge (creating
the perfect "smoky eye") and have a photo
shoot (posing with a snake, acting in a
contact lenses commercial).
The first season of "ANTM" brought
its most loved and reviled personalities.
There's Ebony, the obnoxious black les-
bian whose attempts to improve her skin's
texture result in a confrontation over
the grease she's been leaving on all the
doorknobs; laid-back Chicagoan rocker
Adrienne, whose thick accent and food
poisoning don't stop her from winning the
season; and hypocritical, ultra-Christian
Robin, a former Miss Soybean pageant
winner whose bitchy zealousness creates
a faction of Bible-thumpers in the house.
And then there's Elyse - a bastion of
real-world sanity in a house full of ditzy
bitches. This pre-med indie chick stum-
bled upon a casting call and made a tape
as a joke - but her couture-perfect body
and a knack for modeling got her to third-
to-top on the show. She has done better
than any of the winners andrecently com-
pleted a stint in Hong Kong.

After they've spent a few weeks stuck
in the house, Robin criticizes Elyse's athe-
ist beliefs - and she snaps. In a confes-
sional booth rant, Elyse verbally rips apart
the other girls in what has to be the abso-
lute apex of reality television: " ... The
most vapid conversations are going on all
around me ... Adrienne ... Stop quoting
"Jay andSilent Bob"nexttomyear.Robin,
how fucking dare you show me that 'fool-
ish is the atheist' Bible verse ... Foolish
is the woman who believes that goddamn
tripe. Giselle, you fucking worthless cunt.
You are so wasteful, bitchy, stupid. You're
worthless ... Dammit. Let me fucking die.
You bitches." Elyse is totally awesome.
Unfortunately, Paramount skimped a
little on the show's features. There's a bor-
ing peek into contestant selection, a talk
with Banks andthe producers and a short
featurette on two of the show's fabulous
mainstays, makeup artist Jay Manuel and
runway trainer J. Alexander. More of the
judges' deliberations - or a few of Jan-
ice's stories from her rehab days - would
have made this DVD perfect.
So what if none of them (with a few
exceptions) are talented, skinny or young
enough to actually break into the model-
ing world? How can you resist watching
the unsuspecting hamsters pose with live
snakes, condemn each other as heathens
and affectionately call each other "slut-
hos"? You can't. Go buy this DVD. Now.
Show: ****I
Picture/Sound: ***I
Features: ***


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