The Ring is the American adaptation of Ring, made in 2002 by directed Gore Verbinksi and written by Ehren Kruger. The film follows the basic outline of the Japanese film with elements of all the films added together, although characters have been altered to fit western audiences. The film focuses on journalist Rachel Keller investigating the existence of a cursed videotape which kills the viewers in seven days - one victim is her niece Katie Embry. Rachel finds the tape but is cursed, prompting her to enlist the help of her ex-boyfriend Noah Clay to investigate the tape's origins before she too is killed. The film stars Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Shannon Cochran and Daveigh Chase as Samara Morgan, the American equivalent of Sadako Yamamura.
Two teenage girls, Katie Embry and Becca Kotler, spend a rainy evening together at Katie's house. Becca tells Katie of a rumour of a cursed video tape that kills people a week after they watch it. Katie expresses shock at this, revealing she watched a similar tape while at Shelter Mountain Inn that weekend with her boyfriend Josh Turnadot and friends Scott Conroy and Stacey Nyugen for the weekend. The two girls laugh it off until the telephone rings, and there is a moment of real panic as the girls consider the possibility that the cursed tape is real. However, the caller turns out to be Ruth Embry, Katie's mother, and the girls are relieved and a little giddy now that their moment of fear has passed. Becca heads upstairs, but Katie finds the television downstairs on. She turns it off, but it bizarrely turns itself back on. Katie goes upstairs, only to find water in the hallway that appears to be coming from her bedroom. She opens the door and is attacked and killed by an unknown force.
Three days later, journalist Rachel Keller picks up her 10-year old son Aidan (David Dorfman) from school. Aidan is Katie's cousin, and he has been deeply affected by Katie's death. Aidan's teacher reveals that Aidan had been drawing sketches of Katie depicting her death a week before she died.
The next day, Rachel and Aiden attend Katie's funeral and subsequent gathering at the Embry house. Ruth approaches Rachel, asking her to use her journalism background to try and investigate the strange circumstances surrounding Katie's death. Rachel learns from some teenagers at the funeral that Becca, the friend who was with Katie that night, has been institutionalized, and the other people who watched the tape with Katie are also dead-- one from suicide, and two in a car accident. Meanwhile, Aidan visits Katie's room, and when Rachel goes to find him, she also finds a ticket for some photos Katie had apparently dropped off to be developed.
She takes the ticket and picks up the developed film. On it are photos of Katie and her friends from their weekend at Shelter Mountain Inn, but something is strange. The first few photos seem normal, but the next photo depicts the faces of the friends as blurred and distorted, and this trend continues to the end of the photo set.
Determined to investigate further, Rachel goes to Shelter Mountain and purposely rents Cabin 12, the cabin that appeared in the photographs of Katie and her friends. While waiting for the innkeeper to come back with her credit card, she browses through a collection of video tapes for rent on some shelves in the office. A strange, blank tape catches her eye, and she slips it into her bag. Inside Cabin 12, Rachel plays the tape. The video shows a strange sequence of random, disturbing images, accompanied by a vague, high-pitched whine. As soon as the tape ends, the cabin's telephone rings. When Rachel answers it, a female voice whispers "Seven days" and the call ends. A frightened Rachel runs out of the cabin, taking the tape with her.
The next day, a Thursday, Rachel invites Noah Clay, her ex and Aidan's father, to look at the tape. Noah, being an experienced photographer and media analyst, is unfazed by the tape, dismissing it as some kind of crazy art film. Regardless, he asks Rachel to make a copy of the tape. On Friday, Rachel copies the tape at the news office where she works and brings both tapes to Noah's apartment. Noah is confused by the copy's lack of a control track. The two spot an image on the tape's overscan area, but cannot investigate it due to the arrival of Noah's "friend," Beth. Rachel makes a hasty exit.
On Saturday, Rachel visits Becca in the mental facility at which she has been staying since Katie's death. Becca looks pale and wan, as though she has not been sleeping, and must travel through the hospital with a protective screen on wheels as the sight of the television in the hospital's common rooms frightens her into catatonia. Becca is able to tell Rachel that "she" will tell her what the tape means, and that Rachel only has four days left. After leaving the hospital, Rachel visits a video editing facility to better examine the tape, where she is able to pause the video on a particular shot of a lighthouse in the tape's overscan. However, despite the tape being paused, a fly recorded on the tape is still moving. Amazingly, Rachel is able to pull the fly right off the screen, and we see it moving in her hand. As she stares at the fly, she discovers her nose has begun to bleed. Noah also begins experiencing strange phenomena-- at a little bodega, his is the only face blurred out in a CCTV feed of the shop's register.
On Sunday, Rachel goes to the library to investigate the lighthouse she saw on the tape, and is able to identify it as that of Moesko Island. Further research online and in the news office's archives allows Rachel to learn the identity of a woman on the video - Anna Morgan, a horse rancher who lived on Moesko Island. She committed suicide after her horses were all found dead on the beach for no discernible reason, and her ranch was quarantined for awhile. (At this point, in a scene added to the DVD release, Noah visits the Shelter Mountain Inn and finds the innkeeper dead-- it is assumed he watched the tape as well.)
Later that night, Rachel calls Ruth asking if she would watch Aiden while she vists Moesko Island. Ruth asks if the trip is related to her investigation into Katie's death, but Rachel is unable to answer due to a sudden coughing fit. To her horror, the fit culminates in her pulling a length of wire attached to an old electrode out through her mouth, and her phone suddenly goes dead. The camera focuses on the dropped phone, and water is dripping out through the holes.
Later, Rachel checks on Aidan, only to find a girl sitting in a chair with long wet hair covering her face. The girl grabs Rachel's arm, but then Rachel wakes up in bed-- it was just a dream, and everything is fine... until she notices a handprint on her arm. She runs to check on Aidan, and to her shock and dismay, finds him watching the copied tape. She screams, grabs Aidan, and throws the tape under a chair. The phone rings. And rings. And rings. Rachel finally grabs it and screams "LEAVE HIM ALONE!" The caller, however, is Noah, who is shown to be browsing through several self-portraits, each one depicting him with a blurry, distorted face. He indicates that he believes Rachel and volunteers to join in the investigation.
From Monday to Tuesday, Rachel prepares to go to Moesko Island, leaving Aidan in Ruth's care and sending Noah to Eola Psychiatric County Hospital to look at Anna Morgan's medical records. On the ferry to the island, Rachel reads a newspaper entry on Anna and discovers she has a daughter. While walking through the cargo area of the ferry, Rachel's presence disturbs a horse so much that it breaks out of its cart and ends up falling over side of the ferry. In a particularly horrific scene, the horse is sucked underneath the ferry, and there is a beat as the passengers hold their breaths... then, from under the other end of the boat, the water spewing from the boat's motor turns a bright red, and a young girl (presumably the horse's owner) begins screaming.
Noah breaks into the hospital to read Anna's files and finds other files on her adoptive daughter Samara Morgan. Rachel visits the Morgan Horse Ranch where she interrogates Richard Morgan, Anna's husband, who denies the existence of a daughter and sends Rachel away. Rachel visits the island's doctor, Doctor Grasnik. Dr. Grasnik explains Anna had numerous miscarriages until she adopted Samara. However, Anna began to experience strange images in her head and was nearly driven mad, believing they came from Samara. Dr. Grasnik sent them both to Eola Psychiatric Hospital and assumes Samara is still there.
Noah tries to watch an interview video of Samara but finds that the tape missing. At night, Rachel sneaks back into Richard's house and finds the interview tape. On the tape, Doctor Scott interviews a young Samara, who barely speaks but comments on her "powers," which include projected thermography/"nensha," the ability to project thoughts onto a surface or into the minds of others. She states that she believes Richard will leave her at the hospital.
While Rachel watches this interview, Richard appears behind her, tells her that she is doomed, and then climbs into a full bathtub and drops an electric heater in it, killing himself. Noah appears and takes a distraught Rachel outside. He believes Richard killed Samara. The two go to the ranch's barn and find the loft has been converted into a child's bedroom. Rachel concludes that Samara was put in the barn by Richard to protect Anna, but Samara, angry, used her powers to drive the horses to suicide. Noah finds a burnt image of a tree on a wall, and Rachel recognizes the image as a tree located on Shelter Mountain.
The two race to Shelter Mountain as Wednesday rolls by. With minutes left before sunset and the end of Rachel's seven days, Noah begins to trash the cabin in anger. However, through Noah's destruction, the two end up finding an old stone well hidden underneath the cabin. They try to figure out how deep the well is, and while they discuss its possibilities, the screws holding the top on begin to lift out and Rachel is knocked into the well.
As Noah runs off to find something to use as a rope to get Rachel out, she flounders around at the bottom. She realizes she is holding handfuls of hair and that there are fingernail marks and, indeed, entire fingernails on the walls. Realizing what she is looking at, she reacts with horror and suddenly, an arm reaches up from the depths and grabs her.
At the touch of the arm, Rachel experiences Samara's final moments. Samara is standing near the well, and Anna comes up behind her. They exchange a few words, and suddenly Anna suffocates Samara with a black garbage bag and dumps her body into the well. She then throws herself off a cliff. But Samara isn't dead and survives in the well for seven days before dying.
Back in the present, Rachel snaps out of it, still in the well, and Samara's perfectly-preserved corpse rises up into her arm. However, as Rachel lifts the body from the water, it rots away very quickly into nothing. Later, Rachel and Noah sit outside together as the authorities remove Samara's body. Rachel concludes that Samara just wanted to be found, and the two pick up Aidan and return to their separate homes.
The next day, Aidan awakens with Rachel but is horrified to learn that she and Noah let Samara out of the well. He says that she can never be stopped, and that Rachel wasn't supposed to help her. Rachel panics and tries to contact Noah. In Noah's apartment, Noah is disturbed by his television, which repeatedly turns itself on. Eventually, an image of the well from the tape appears onscreen. Samara crawls out of the well and heads for the screen. Rachel races to Noah's apartment, desperately trying to call him. Samara crawls right out of the television and chases Noah across the room until she scares him to death. Rachel arrives moments later to find his corpse.
Distraught and angry, Rachel returns home and destroys the original tape by burning it. She suddenly realises why she survived and not Noah, as he did not copy the tape and show it to someone else-- Samara wished for the world to know her pain and copying the tape and spreading it was the best way to achieve this. The films ends with Rachel assisting Aidan in copying the tape, Aidan questioning what happens when they show someone else the tape, and Rachel remaining morbidly silent.
- Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller, a journalist who investigates the existence of the cursed videotape and becomes involved in its origins more than she wants to be.
- Martin Henderson as Noah Clay, a Rachel's ex-boyfriend and Aidan's father. He is a photographer and a media analyst.
- David Dorfman as Aidan Keller, Rachel and Noah's 10 Year Old son.
- Daveigh Chase as Samara Morgan, the antagonist of the film and the creator of the videotape.
- Brian Cox as Richard Morgan, Samara's adoptive father who owns a horse ranch on Moesko Island.
- Shannon Cochran as Anna Morgan, Samara's adoptive mother.
- Jane Alexander as Doctor Grasnik, Moesko Island's single doctor.
- Lindsay Frost as Ruth Embry, Rachel's sister.
- Amber Tamblyn as Katie Embry, Rachel's niece who is the first victim of the tape.
- Rachael Bella as Becca Kolter, Katie's best friend.
- Pauley Perrette as Beth, Noah's work colleague and girlfriend.
- Richard Lineback as the Shelter Mountain Innkeeper.
Comparisons/Differences To The Japanese FilmsEdit
- The opening scene between the two girls is quite similar until after Katie answers the phone. While Tomoko is killed in the kitchen by Sadako Yamamura, Katie goes upstairs and is killed in her bedroom by Samara.
- Both Katie and Tomoko's bodies are mysteriously found in their bedroom closets by their mothers. While Katie could have crawled into her closet, Tomoko was downstairs when she died.
- The victims of Sadako's curse are left with expressions of terror on their faces. Samara's victims are found with deformed faces.
- At the funeral, Rachel is asked by her sister to find out what killed Katie. This takes places the day after the funeral in Ring.
- Rachel also finds the voucher for photo development at the funeral, while Reiko Asakawa found it the next day.
- Shelter Mountain Inn is quite rundown, while the Izu Pacific Land Resort is popular and well run.
- The cursed tape is much longer than the Japanese version, having more imagery that runs throughout the viewing while the Japanese tape's has one clip after the other without switching between them.
- The clip where Anna Morgan turns to look at the camera on the tape is taken from Ring 2 where Shizuko Yamamura turns to look at Mai Takano.
- Noah Clay works as a photographer and technician, while Ryuji Takayama is a university teacher.
- Noah does not have psychic powers as Ryuji does, so it takes him longer to believe in the tape's curse.
- The way Noah and Aidan meet is taken directly from the original film where Ryuji and his son Yoichi Asakawa meet in the rain.
- Rachel does all of the research of the tape's origins, mostly on the lighthouse and Anna Morgan. She uses the internet and library books to do this. Reiko and Ryuji examined the tape together and used their contacts to find out information.
- Rachel and Noah are interrupted by Noah's assistant Beth, while Reiko and Ryuji are interrupted by Mai, Ryuji's student.
- Rachel's visit to Becca in the mental hospital is taken from Ring 2. In that film, Mai and Okazaki go to visit Masami Kurahashi but she causes a television to display images of the tape and terrifies other patients. In The Ring, Becca does not do this but instead displays some form of precognition powers.
- Rachel experiences strange phenomena, choking up an old medical tool and sees a vision of Samara sitting in Aidan's room. Reiko only hears her dead niece's voice and then sees an image of the enigmatic Towel Man.
- Both Rachel and Reiko find their children watching the tape. However, while Yoichi watched the tape because Tomoko told him to, Aidan watched it because he could not sleep.
- The telephone calls occur whenever or wherever someone watched the tape. In Ring, the phone only rang at Izu.
- Rachel leaves Aidan at Ruth's house, while Reiko left Yoichi at her father's.
- Shizuko and Anna's backstories are similar but also different. Shizuko went insane after a demonstration of her powers before the press in which a journalist was killed by a young Sadako and then killed herself; Anna did not go insane after Samara murdered all the family horses, but instead went into medical care for a while before throwing Samara down the well and then killing herself.
- Rachel's burn mark is gained from her first vision of Samara. Reiko gains hers when she and Ryuji have a vision of Shizuko's demonstration, a young Sadako approaching her and grabbing her arm.
- Samara lived on Moesko Island while Sadako lived on Oshima Island.
- No animals are aggressive towards the cursed in Ring.
- Richard Morgan is more inspired by Takashi Yamamura (Sadako's uncle) then her step-father Heihachrio Ikuma. Richard and Takashi denied the existence of their children.
- Neither Samara nor Sadako intended to harm their mothers with their Nensha powers.
- Samara is inspired by Sadako's evil self seen in Ring 0: Birthday.
- Samara was put into a psychiatric hospital for some time. Sadako was under the guidance of a psychiatrist during Ring 0. Both doctors who card for the girls were killed by their patients, although Sadako accidentally killed hers.
- Richard commits suicide by electrocuting himself in a bathtub. His death is inspired by Ishi Kawajiri's death in Ring 2 when he leaps into a swimming pool carrying electrical equipment.
- Samara was locked up in the family barn. This is based on Ring 0's plot where the evil Sadako was locked up in the attic of Dr. Ikuma's house in Izu.
- Both girls were thrown down the well by a parent. Samara by her mother Anna, and Sadako by her step-father Dr. Ikuma.
- Rachel and Reiko find Samara/Sadako's corpse down the well, experiencing flashbacks of their deaths. However, Samara's is preserved due to being trapped but rots away when exposed to the air.
- Noah and Ryuji are killed by Samara/Sadako emerging from their TV sets. While Sadako's eye is only seen, Samara's whole face is shown.
- Rachel finds Noah's body. Ryuji's was found by Mai and removed by the police by the time Reiko arrives.
- Rachel destroys and burns the original tape, which Reiko is hinted at doing in Ring 2 when Mai and Okazaki find burnt tape in her bathroom.
- Rachel copies Noah's copy of the tape with Aidan but it is never seen who they show the tape too. Reiko drives to her father's house to show it to him.
- The role of Rachel Keller was offered to multiple actresses before Naomi Watts. Jennifer Connelly was the first choice, but she declined. She would later go on to star in Dark Water, a remake of another Japanese horror film. Other candidates for the role were Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale.
- Actor Chris Cooper was originally meant to appear in the film as a child murderer wanting Rachel to prove his innocence and would later receive the cursed tape from her. A photo of Cooper appears on a newspaper when Noah is about to be killed by Samara.
- There are several references to the works of Alfred Hitchcock in the film, such as the shots used when Rachel takes a shower are similar to those of Psycho, and the scene where Rachel observes other apartments which may be a nod to Rear Window. Hitchcock himself made an unrelated film called "The Ring" in 1927.
- The Japanese maple tree at Shelter Mountain was actually a fake tree and collapses several times during filming.
- The first copy of the tape is allegedly a prop from the original film.
- The lighthouse on Moesko Island is actually a real lighthouse called Yaquina Head Lighthouse.