|Directed by||Gore Verbinski|
|Screenplay by||Ehren Kruger|
|Edited by||Craig Wood|
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Box office||$249.4 million|
The Ring is a 2002 supernatural horror thriller film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, and Daveigh Chase. It is a remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 Japanese horror film Ring, based on Koji Suzuki's 1991 novel of the same name. Watts portrays a journalist who investigates a cursed videotape that seemingly kills the viewer seven days after watching it.
The Ring was released theatrically on October 18, 2002, and received mostly positive reviews, with critics praising the atmosphere, visuals, and Watts's performance. The film grossed over $249 million worldwide on a $48 million production budget, making it one of the highest-grossing horror remakes. It is the first installment of the English-language Ring series, and is followed by The Ring Two and Rings, which were released in 2005 and 2017, respectively.
The Ring paved the way for English-language remakes of Asian horror films, such as The Grudge, Dark Water, and The Eye, among others.
In Seattle, two friends Katie Embry and Becca Kotler discuss their town’s resident legend of a cursed videotape; whoever watches it dies seven days later. Katie claims she watched the tape a week ago, and minutes later, she is killed by an unseen force.
At Katie's funeral, her aunt Rachel Keller begins to investigate Katie's death. Rachel lives with her young son Aidan. Rachel learns that Katie's friends Josh Turandot, Stacey Miller, and Scott Conduroy, who also viewed the tape, all died on the same night as Katie, all with disfigured appearances. Rachel travels to Shelter Mountain Inn where Katie stayed, discovering the cursed videotape. Rachel watches the tape, which contains disturbing, gruesome imagery. Once the tape ends, Rachel receives a phone call from an unknown caller who whispers "seven days".
Rachel recruits Noah, her ex-boyfriend and Aidan's father, to study the tape, making a copy after he watches the original. Rachel begins to experience supernatural phenomena as the week passes, haunted by a young girl with soaking wet long black hair. Investigation into the tape's imagery leads Rachel to Anna Morgan, a horse breeder from Moesko Island, who committed suicide after her prize-winning horses drowned themselves. Rachel catches Aidan watching the tape, and discovers Noah is also experiencing supernatural occurrences.
Rachel travels to Moesko Island to speak to Anna's widower Richard. On the ferry journey, a horse leaps to its death after Rachel pets it, recreating imagery from the cursed tape. Noah goes to Eola Psychiatric Hospital to view Anna's medical files. Both separately discover Anna had an adopted daughter, Samara, who was able to psychically etch mental images onto surfaces and into people’s minds. Rachel tries to speak with Richard about Samara, but he denies her existence.
Rachel speaks with Dr. Grasnik, the island's general practitioner, who explains Samara was adopted due to Anna's infertility, recommending them to admit her to Eola, assuming Samara is still there. Rachel sneaks into the Morgan farmhouse, watching a videotape of Samara in a psychotherapy session, who claims she cannot control her abilities. Rachel confronts Richard, who commits suicide upon learning Samara's powers are still at large. Noah arrives and he and Rachel go to the barn, where Samara was kept isolated. They find a burnt image of a tree, which Rachel recognizes from Shelter Mountain.
They return to the Inn, locating a stone well hidden under the floorboards; the final image on the tape. Rachel falls in the well, experiencing a vision of Anna suffocating Samara and throwing her down the well where she died seven days later, her last sight being the titular 'ring' of daylight around the well's cap. Samara's corpse surfaces after Noah tells Rachel that the seven-day deadline has passed. The authorities assure the pair that Samara's corpse will be properly buried.
The next day, Rachel tells Aidan that the curse has been lifted by liberating Samara. A distressed Aidan tells Rachel that it was a mistake to help Samara, saying that "she never sleeps". At his apartment, Noah is murdered by the vengeful ghost of Samara. Rachel, upon finding his disfigured corpse, returns home and destroys the original tape, wondering why Noah was killed but she was not. She realizes that unlike Noah, she made a copy of the tape, which Aidan watched, thereby continuing the cycle that Samara wants to spread of duplicating the video and showing it to someone else to save oneself.
As Rachel assists Aidan in making a copy of the cursed tape, Aidan asks what will happen to the person who watches the new tape, but Rachel does not answer.
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".
Producer Neal Edelstein offered the remake to David Lynch to direct, but he turned it down. The original WGA-approved credits listed Hiroshi Takahashi (writer of the original 1998 screenplay for Ring) but his name is absent from the final print.
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 equally as compelling.
The film features an original score composed by Hans Zimmer (who would later collaborate on 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 soundtrack contains a few themes associated with the characters, moods, and locations, including multiple uses of the Dies Irae theme. The score makes use of string instruments, pianos, and synthesizers.
|The Ring / The Ring Two (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Film score by|
|Released||March 15, 2005|
All music is composed by Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner, and Martin Tillman.
|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. Physical VHS copies were also randomly distributed outside of movie theaters by placing the tapes on the windshields of people's cars.
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 71% based on 207 reviews, with an average rating of 6.60/10. 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 described the characters as 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[who?] 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."
|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 sequel, The Ring Two, was released in 2005. A short film titled Rings was also released in 2005, and is set between The Ring and The Ring Two. Another sequel, also titled Rings, was released in 2017.