So here we are. This is the movie that started the trend of remaking Japanese horror movies so we have it to thank for The Grudge, Pulse, and Dark Water. Now when this came out in theaters, I honestly had no real intention to go see it. However, after hearing about how successful it ended up being, I decided to rent it when it became available on DVD. So let’s see if the hype stands up with today’s movie, The Ring (2002).
The plot: Katie and Becca are trying to watch TV but are bored because nothing good is on. Turning the TV off, Becca asks Katie if she heard the rumor of the cursed videotape, saying that when you watch it, you receive a phone call saying that you will die in 7 days. Katie asks Becca who told her that and admits that she had watched the tape with her boyfriend and two other friends last week. When the phone rings, Katie freaks out but it is only her mom so she talks with her while Katie heads back to her room. After hanging up the phone, Katie is frightened by the downstairs TV turning on by itself and when she unplugs it, she notices something moving behind her. After some other unexplained things occur, she heads back upstairs to her room to see the TV showing a scene from the video and she is killed by an unseen force. A few days later, Rachel, Katie’s aunt, is picking up her son Aiden and Aiden’s teacher talks to her about Aiden’s behavior, showing Rachel pictures he has drawn of a girl being buried and when Rachel says he is just reacting to Katie’s death, the teacher explains that he had started drawing them a week ago. At the memorial service for Katie, Rachel comforts her sister Ruth, who says she tried to figure out what could have happened to Katie and asks Rachel for her help. While outside smoking, Rachel learns about the tape and that Josh also died the same night that Rachel did. After picking up some pictures that Katie had taken to be developed, Rachel notices that a picture of the four kids has their faces all blurred. Learning that the other two kids died on the same day and the exact same time as Katie and Josh, Rachel heads up to the cabin to investigate. As she goes to rent the same cabin the kids did, Rachel notices an unmarked video tape in the video library and grabs it. When she gets to the cabin, she watches the tape, which shows some disturbing and surreal images, and when she ejects the tape after it’s done, the phone rings and a voice tells her “7 days”. The next day, Rachel has her ex-husband Noah, who works in photo and video editing, take her picture, revealing her face is also blurred. She has Noah watch the tape but he thinks it is some weird student film and when the phone rings, she refuses to answer it and deletes the message. Rachel makes a copy of the tape for Noah and they try to examine it further but when Noah’s assistant come into his studio, Rachel grabs the copy, as she doesn’t want anyone else to see it. Rachel examines the tape herself and notices a lighthouse in one of the images. After doing some research, Rachel finds out that the lighthouse is on Moesko Island and sees the woman featured in the video in a picture of a dedication for the lighthouse. Rachel learns that the woman’s name is Anna Morgan and that she had committed suicide after the majority of the horses on the Morgan family ranch died of a mysterious illness. Rachel begins having strange dreams involving a black haired girl in a white dress who is soaking wet and when she wakes up on Monday, she sees that Aidan has watched the tape. When Noah calls to say that he believes her, as his face is now blurred in pictures, Rachel tells him that Aidan watched the tape. Leaving Aidan with Ruth, Rachel asks Noah to try and get the records for Anna from the psychiatric hospital that she was committed to while she takes the ferry to Moesko Island and tries getting answers there. On the ferry, Rachel sees a horse in a trailer but as she tries to pet it, it freaks out, escapes the trailer, and runs around the ferry before jumping over the side and getting killed by the ferry’s propellers. Rachel heads to the Morgan ranch and speaks with Anna’s husband Richard about the horses and the tape but Richard is cryptic and denies that they had a daughter. When she goes to see the town doctor, the doctor admits that the Morgans could not conceive a child so the adopted Samara but says that the last she heard, Samara was at the psychiatric hospital and that things on the island have been better since she has been gone. Meanwhile, Noah breaks into the hospital and finds Anna’s records, but when he tries to call Rachel with what he knows, he doesn’t get an answer so he heads to the island himself. That night, Rachel sneaks into the Morgan’s house and finds the tape of Samara’s psychotherapy sessions, and learns how Samara had the ability to etch her thoughts onto objects and into the minds of people and animals. As she watches the tape, Richard sneaks up behind Rachel and strikes her, then grabs the TV. He takes it upstairs and tells Rachel that Samara will never stop, then electrocutes himself. Noah arrives at the house just as this happens and they head into the barn, where they find the loft that was converted into Samara’s room. Examining the room, Rachel and Noah find an image of a tree painted onto a wall that was covered by wallpaper and Rachel recognizes it not just as the tree in the tape, but from the cabin where she watched the tape. When they get to the cabin, Rachel starts to give up hope while Noah starts throwing things around but when they notice some glass beads rolling onto a particular spot on the floor, they tear up the floor boards to discover an old stone well. As they try to peer down into it, a swarm of flies fly out just as Rachel ends up getting knocked down into the well. As Noah goes to get some rope to help Rachel escape, the lid suddenly closes and Rachel sees how Anna had killed Samara and thrown her into the well but Samara had managed to survive and lived for 7 days before she finally died. Samara’s body floats to the surface and Rachel holds it and watches as it turns into a skeleton before she lets it sink back into the water. The authorities arrive and Noah tells Rachel that Samara will be buried next week and that it is over, as Rachel has survived the 7 days. Rachel and Noah go pick up Aidan and head back to Rachel’s place before Noah head home. The next morning, Rachel is talking with Aidan about Samara and she notices the hand prints on his arm that are similar to when Samara had grabbed her and Aidan tells her that Samara never sleeps. At his studio, Noah is looking over some pictures when his TV suddenly comes on and shows the image of the well. As Noah watches, he sees Samara climbing out of the well and then crawls out of the TV and approaches him. Rachel tries calling Noah but when he doesn’t answer, she rushes over to his studio only to find Noah dead in his chair, with a puddle of water on the floor around him. Returning to her apartment, Rachel burns the tape and tries to figure out why she was spared when she remembers the copy of the tape she made. Rachel takes Aidan with her and has him make a copy of the tape, which Rachel plans on showing to someone so that Aidan will be spared but Aidan asks what will happen to them and Rachel doesn’t have an answer for him.
The Ring (2002) met with mixed to positive results from the critics, holding a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “With little gore and a lot of creepy visuals, The Ring gets under your skin, thanks to director Gore Verbinski’s haunting sense of atmosphere and an impassioned performance from Naomi Watts.” The killer video in the movie was used in commercials for a month before any mention of the movie was made. The movie was a box office success, earning $249.3 million off of a $48 million budget.
This was a really good movie, and honestly just makes me want to watch the original movie that much more (I should really get on that). The acting was great, with Naomi Watts (Rachel), Martin Henderson (Noah), and Brian Cox (Richard) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was good, using a lot of suspense to help set the tone and keep you enthralled. The special effects were surprisingly better than I expected, and there were a couple of really great scenes in there. I especially liked the effects where Rachel was able to grab the fly out of the video and Samara exiting the TV. A great horror movie and definitely worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5