The Ring is a 2002 American psychological horror film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson. It is an American remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring.
Both films are based on Kôji Suzuki's novel Ring and focus on a mysterious cursed videotape which contains a seemingly random series of disturbing images. After watching the tape, the viewer receives a phone call in which a girl's voice announces that the viewer will die in seven days. The film was a critical and commercial success.
16-year-old Katie Embry (Amber Tamblyn) and 17-year-old Becca Kotler (Rachael Bella), discuss a supposedly cursed videotape while home alone at Katie's house. Katie reveals that, seven days before, she went to a cabin at Shelter Mountain Inn with friends, where she viewed the video tape. The girls laugh it off, but after a series of strange occurrences in the next few minutes, involving a television in the house turning itself on, Katie dies mysteriously and horrifically while Becca watches, leading to Becca's institutionalization in a mental hospital.
Katie's 9-year-old cousin, Aidan (David Dorfman), is visibly affected by the death. After Katie's funeral, Ruth Embry (Lindsay Frost) asks her sister Rachel (Naomi Watts), Aidan's mother and a journalist, to investigate Katie's death, which leads her to the cabin where Katie watched the tape. Rachel finds and watches the tape; the phone rings, and she hears a child's voice say "seven days", upsetting Rachel. The next day, Rachel calls Noah (Martin Henderson), an ex-boyfriend (who also happens to be Aidan's father), to show him the video and asks for his assistance based upon his media-related skills. He asks her to make a copy for further investigation, which she does, but later takes it home herself. To Rachel's horror, she discovers Aidan watching the copy a few days later.
After viewing the tape, Rachel begins experiencing nightmares, nose bleeds, and surreal situations (for instance, when she pauses a section of the tape in which a fly runs across the screen, she is able to pluck the fly from the monitor). Increasingly anxious about getting to the origin of the tape, Rachel investigates images of a woman seen in the tape. Using a video lab, she discovers images in the tape's overscan area, which through further research she discovers to be a lighthouse located on Moesko Island. It also turns out that the tape's overscan does not include time code, which hints that the tape was not made using electronic equipment. The woman turns out to be Anna Morgan, who lived on the island in Washington, many years prior with her husband Richard (Brian Cox). Rachel discovers that, after bringing home an adopted daughter, tragedy befell the Morgan ranch – the horses raised on the ranch went mad and killed themselves, which in turn supposedly had caused Anna (who loved her horses) to become depressed and commit suicide. Rachel goes to the Morgan house and finds Richard, who refuses to talk about the video or his daughter and sends Rachel away. A local doctor tells Rachel that Anna could not carry a baby to term and adopted a child named Samara (Daveigh Chase). The doctor recounts that Anna soon complained about gruesome visions that only happened when Samara was around, so both were sent to a mental institution. While Rachel is investigating on Moesko Island, Noah is investigating the institution, where he finds Anna's file and discovers that there was a video of Samara, but the video is missing. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Rachel sneaks back to the Morgan house where she discovers the missing video, watches it, and is confronted by Richard who says that the girl was evil. He then electrocutes himself in the bathtub, sending Rachel running out of the room screaming.
Noah arrives and, with Rachel, goes to the barn to discover an attic where Samara was kept by her father. Behind the wallpaper they discover an image of a tree seen on the tape, which grows near the Shelter Mountain Inn. At the inn, they discover a well underneath the floor, in which Rachel finds Samara's body, experiencing a vision of how her mother pushed her into it. Rachel notifies the authorities, and gives Samara a proper burial.
Rachel informs Aidan that they will no longer be troubled by Samara. However, Aidan is horrified, telling his mother she had freed her body, and that Samara "never sleeps". In his apartment, Noah's TV turns on, revealing an image in which a decaying Samara crawls from the well and out of the TV into the room. Horrified, Noah trips backward and tries to crawl away from Samara. Samara faces him, exposes her true face and stares directly at him, killing him with fear, which Rachel discovers after racing to his apartment and seeing his face distorted like Katie's was. Upon returning to her apartment, Rachel destroys and burns the original tape. Wondering why she had not died like the others, she remembers that she made a copy of the tape. She soon notices the copy of the tape underneath the couch. Rachel realizes the only way to escape and save Aidan is to have him copy the tape and show it to someone else, continuing the cycle. Rachel helps Aidan copy the tape, who asks her what is going to happen to the person they give the tape to. She does not respond as the film ends with a shot of the well Samara was drowned in.
- Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller
- Martin Henderson as Noah Clay
- David Dorfman as Aidan Keller
- Brian Cox as Richard Morgan
- Jane Alexander as Dr. Grasnik
- Lindsay Frost as Ruth Embry
- Amber Tamblyn as Katie Embry
- Rachael Bella as Rebecca 'Becca' Kotler
- Daveigh Chase as Samara Morgan
- Shannon Cochran as Anna Morgan
- Richard Lineback as Innkeeper
- Pauley Perrette as Beth
- Sara Rue as Babysitter
In order to advertise The Ring, many promotional websites were formed featuring the characters and places in the film. The film was financially successful; the box office gross actually increased from its 1st weekend to its 2nd, as the initial success led DreamWorks to roll the film into 700 additional theaters.The Ring made $8.3 million in its first two weeks in Japan, compared to Ring's $6.6 million total box-office gross.The success of The Ring opened the way for American remakes of several other Japanese horror films, including The Grudge and Dark Water.A sequel, The Ring Two, was released in North American theaters on March 18, 2005. It was directed by Hideo Nakata, the director of The Ring.
The Ring met with generally positive reviews from film critics, receiving 72% favorable reviews out of 167 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and a Metacritic score of 57/100 (mixed or average) from 36 reviews. On the television program Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper gave the film "Thumbs Up" and said it was very gripping and scary despite some minor unanswered questions. Roger Ebert gave the film "Thumbs Down" and felt it was boring and "borderline ridiculous"; he also disliked the extended, detailed ending.IGN’s Jeremy Conrad praised the movie for its atmospheric set up and cinematography, and said that “there are 'disturbing images'… but the film doesn't really rely on gore to deliver the scares. … The Ring relies on atmosphere and story to deliver the jumps, not someone being cleaved in half by a glass door.” Film Threat's Jim Agnew called it “dark, disturbing and original throughout. You know that you’re going to see something a little different than your usual studio crap.” Verbinski was praised for slowly revealing the plot while keeping the audience interested, “the twists keep on coming, and Verbinski shows a fine-tuned gift for calibrating and manipulating viewer expectations.
Despite the praise given to Verbinski’s direction, critics railed the characters as being weak. The Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaurn said that the film was “an utter waste of Watts… perhaps because the script didn’t bother to give her a character,” whereas other critics such as William Arnold from Seattle Post-Intelligencer said the opposite: “she projects intelligence, determination and resourcefulness that carry the movie nicely.” Many critics regarded Dorfman’s character as a "creepy-child" “Sixth Sense cliché.” A large sum of critics, like Miami Herald’s Rene Rodriguez and USA Today’s Claudia Puig found themselves confused and thought that by the end of the movie “[the plot] still doesn't make much sense.”
The movie was number 20 on the cable channel Bravo's list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film sixth in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "The Ring was not only the first American “J-Horror” remake out of the gate; it also still stands as the best."
- The Ring Two (2005)
- Rings (2017)