The Ring is a 2002 American supernatural horror film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman and Brian Cox. It is a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu based on the novel of the same name by Koji Suzuki.
The Ring was released theatrically on October 18, 2002, and received mostly positive reviews. Many critics praised the reliance on dread and visuals over gore and the direction along with the screenplay writing, but criticized the lack of character development. The film grossed over $249 million worldwide on a $48 million production budget, making it one of the highest-grossing horror remakes. It was followed by two sequels: The Ring Two (2005) and Rings (2017).
Teenagers Katie and Becca discuss an urban legend about a videotape; whoever watches it dies seven days later. Katie confesses that she watched the tape with her friends the previous week. That night, Katie dies and Becca goes insane.
At Katie's funeral, Katie's mother Ruth asks her sister Rachel, a Seattle journalist, to investigate the death. Rachel discovers that Katie's friends were killed in bizarre accidents on the night of her death. Rachel goes to Shelter Mountain Inn, the mountain retreat where Katie and her friends watched the tape. She rents the same cabin and watches the tape; it contains gruesome and disturbing imagery. After the tape ends, she receives a phone call from an unknown female who whispers "seven days".
Rachel recruits the help of her video analyst ex-boyfriend Noah. He watches the tape and Rachel makes him a copy so they can both investigate where it came from. Rachel begins to see images from the tape appear in the real world. She discovers hidden imagery of a lighthouse and identifies a woman on the tape: a horse breeder, Anna Morgan, who committed suicide after some of her horses drowned themselves off Moesko Island. Rachel finds her son Aidan watching the videotape.
Leaving Aidan in Ruth's care, Rachel heads for Moesko Island to speak to Anna's widower, Richard, while Noah travels to Eola Psychiatric Hospital to view Anna's medical files. On the ferry to the island, a horse is spooked by Rachel and leaps to its death. On the island, she discovers Anna had an adopted daughter, Samara, but Richard denies it. Rachel speaks to the island doctor, who explains that Anna adopted Samara due to her infertility. Samara possessed the ability to psychically etch images onto objects and into minds, tormenting her parents and their horses. Noah finds a psychiatric file on Samara which mentions a missing video record last seen by Richard.
Rachel sneaks into the Morgan house and watches the missing video, which shows Samara explaining her powers during a psychotherapy session. Richard discovers her and strikes her. Realizing Samara's evil is still at large, he electrocutes himself in the bathtub. Noah arrives and he and Rachel enter the barn. In a loft converted to a bedroom to isolate Samara from her mother, they find an image of a tree behind the wallpaper; Rachel recognizes it as a tree at the Shelter Mountain Inn.
Rachel returns with Noah to the cabin at Shelter Mountain Inn, where they are led to a well beneath the floorboards. They remove the lid and Rachel is pushed inside. A hand grabs her, and Rachel experiences a vision of Anna suffocating and dumping Samara into the well, where she survived for seven days. Samara's corpse surfaces from the water. After Rachel is rescued from the well, they arrange a proper burial for Samara. Noah tells Rachel that they are now safe as more than seven days have passed since she watched the videotape.
Aidan warns Rachel that it was a mistake to try to help Samara. Rachel realizes that Noah's seven days are up and rushes to save him, but the vengeful ghost of Samara materializes on his TV screen, crawls out of it and kills him. Rachel finds his disfigured corpse and returns home to destroy the tape. She concludes she was spared because she made a copy, which Aidan watched. Rachel has Aidan make a copy of the copy to show to someone else, saving him from Samara.
- Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller
- Martin Henderson as Noah Clay
- David Dorfman as Aidan Keller
- Brian Cox as Richard Morgan
- Daveigh Chase as Samara Morgan
- Joe Chrest as Dr. Scott
- Jane Alexander as Dr. Grasnik
- Lindsay Frost as Ruth Embry
- Amber Tamblyn as Katherine "Katie" Embry
- Rachael Bella as Rebecca "Becca" Kotler
- Shannon Cochran as Anna Morgan
- Richard Lineback as Innkeeper
- Pauley Perrette as Beth
- Sara Rue as Babysitter
- Sasha Barrese as Teen Girl
- Adam Brody as Kellen (Teen #3)
- Michael Spound as Dave
The Ring went into production without a completed script. Ehren Kruger wrote three drafts of the screenplay before Scott Frank came on to do an uncredited rewrite. Verbinski was initially inspired to do a remake of Ringu after Walter F. Parkes sent him a VHS copy of the original Japanese film, which he describes as "intriguing", "Pulp" and "avant-garde". The film also sought to retain the minimalism that was prevalent throughout Ringu and was decidedly set in Seattle, due to its "wet and isolated" atmosphere. Verbinski also admitted to not wanting to cast "big stars" as he wanted his film to be "discovered" and describes the wave of harsh criticism from hardcore fans of the original Japanese film as "inevitable" although he expressed desire for hardcore fans of the original to find the remake as equally compelling.
The film features an original score composed by Hans Zimmer (who would later collaborate with Gore Verbinski's other works). The soundtrack release did not coincide with the film's theatrical run. It was released in 2005, accompanying The Ring Two in an album that combined music from both The Ring and The Ring Two.
|The Ring/The Ring Two (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|1.||"The Well"||Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner||11:24|
|2.||"Before You Die You See the Ring"||Hans Zimmer||7:09|
|3.||"This is Going to Hurt"||Hans Zimmer, Martin Tillman||2:48|
|4.||"Burning Tree"||Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner, Martin Tillman, Trevor Morris||10:13|
|5.||"Not Your Mommy"||Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner, Clay Duncan||3:59|
|6.||"Shelter Mountain"||Hans Zimmer, Martin Tillman, Trevor Morris||4:10|
|7.||"The Ferry"||Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner, Martin Tillman, Trevor Morris, Bart Hendrickson||3:15|
|8.||"I'll Follow Your Voice"||Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner||6:28|
|9.||"She Never Sleeps (remix)"||2:17|
|10.||"Let the Dead Get In (remix)"||3:59|
|11.||"Seven Days (remix)"||3:24|
In order to advertise The Ring, many promotional websites were formed featuring the characters and places in the film. The video from the cursed videotape was played in late night programming over the summer of 2002 without any reference to the film.
The film was financially successful, and the box office gross increased from its first weekend to its second. The initial success led DreamWorks to increase 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.
The Ring was met with generally positive reviews from film critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 72% based on 201 reviews, with a rating average of 6.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "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." Metacritic gave the film a score of 57/100 (mixed or average) from 36 reviews. On 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" (referencing a scene from Thirteen Ghosts). 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 Rosenbaum 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 film ranked 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 that "The Ring was not only the first American 'J-Horror' remake out of the gate; it also still stands as the best."
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
|2002||Saturn Awards||Best Movie Horror||Won|
|Best Actress||Naomi Watts||Won|
|2003||MTV Movie Awards||Best Movie||Nominated|
|Best Villain||Daveigh Chase||Won|
|Teen Choice Awards||Best Movie Horror||Won|
A short film, Rings, was released in 2005 to fill the gaps between the 2002 film and the second full-length film, The Ring Two, also released in 2005. A third full-length film, also titled Rings, was released in 2017.