More often than not, horror movies fail to leave a mark. Perhaps because of their generic jump-scares tactics or shallow plotlines. There are, however, a few horror movies that remain fresh in the minds of horror hounds for years and even decades. The Ring is one of them. Throughout its runtime, the film instills a feeling of foreboding anticipation and ultimately pays it all off with iconic scenes.
What makes this scene so memorable is not only its shock-and-awe appeal but the build-up that leads to it. Unbeknownst to the viewer, the movie induces subliminal messages and hidden visual metaphors throughout. All of which, add to its growing sense of dread.
10 Seven Days
The paranormal antagonist, Samara, kills her victims seven days after they watch her cursed tape. The reason being that it took her seven days to die after her mother imprisoned her in a well.
This is hinted at in one of the later scenes of the movie where Noah asks Rachel how long can someone survive in a closed well. Understanding the nature of Samara’s hauntings, Rachel says “Seven Days.” It is also possible that this seven-day reference alludes to “The Book of Genesis,” according to which God created the world in seven days.
9 Samara Uses “Nensha” To Kill Her Victims
Also known as thought-photography, nensha is a psychic ability that allows a person to project images in the exterior world through thoughts alone. More than once, the movie suggests that Samara possesses nensha and uses this to haunt her victims. This explains how she burns the image of the tree on her wall.
Samara’s possession of nensha also suggests that she kills her victims by subjecting them to a series of terrifying images that ultimately make their hearts stop. Not to mention, Samara (Sadako in Ringu) is based on a real woman named Sadako Takahashi who was thought to possess nensha.
8 The Multiple Meanings Of The Title
The movie’s title, The Ring, is polysemic. For starters, it refers to the ring that forms at the lid of the well where Samara was imprisoned by her mother. Apart from the obvious interpretation of its meaning, it also alludes to the cyclic—or rather, endless—nature of Samara’s curse. As revealed in the movie’s coda: to remove Samara’s curse, one has to create a copy of the tape.
However, by creating a copy of the tape, the curse is further spread into the world. And so, even though creating a copy spares one victim, it restarts a loop where it affects new victims. Other than that, “ring” also alludes to the ringing of one’s phone right after watching the tape.
7 The Movie Recreates Visuals Of The Tape
To create a more visceral experience for viewers, the film recreates the visuals of its central videotape. For instance, a single frame flash of a horse’s eye appears when Naomi Watts’ character finds horses on her ferry to Moesko Island. The same flash can be seen in the original tape as well. Similarly, when the horse jumps in the sea, the movie shows a flash of the flowing water below the boat. This, again, is a scene recreated from the original tape.
Throughout the film, there are many such scenes that come in tandem with the visuals of the tape. These parallels between the tape and Rachel’s visions show that Samara is omnipresent, even though her physical presence may only manifest after seven days.
6 The Iconic “Television Scene” Is Foreshadowed
The Ring masterfully creates the paradox of disbelief. Throughout its runtime, viewers can’t help but wonder what kills those who watch the cursed tape. While believing that a powerful specter creeps out of the tape seems like a logical explanation, it seems too obvious to be believable. As a result, when Samara literally crawls out of the TV screen, the movie’s implied paradox of disbelief makes it all-the-more shocking.
This terrifying scene is previously foreshadowed when Rachel plucks a fly that (like Samara) transcends from the inside of the television to the outside world.
5 Single-Framed Rings Appear Everywhere
Throughout the movie, rings or circles appear as subliminal stimuli. For instance, in the movie’s intro, the Dreamworks logo briefly flashes the ring similar to the one in its central cursed tape. Even towards the end of the movie, before Noah dies, his coffee mug leaves a circular imprint on a newspaper resting on his table.
There are several other sporadically-distributed scenes that only reveal the ring from the tape for a single frame. In addition, according to its production notes, everything from ring-patterned carpeting to doorknobs was also used to incorporate ring-motifs.
4 A Metaphor For Technophobia
The Ring has stood the test of time because its core theme has less to do with its overarching antagonist and more to do with its criticism of technology. In the opening scene, two teenage girls talk about how humans are losing brain cells because of the waves produced by televisions and phones. Soon after, the movie’s core premise is introduced, which revolves around a curse that travels through technology.
Technology is all-the-more prevalent today and it only makes the movie scarier. Food for thought: how easy would it be for the curse to spread in today’s world that is replete with video sharing platforms and devices?
3 The Tape Literally Grows On You Every Time It Plays In The Movie
Every time the tape plays in the movie, Samara is a little further out of the well. This tiny detail leads up to the pivotal scene where she creeps out of the TV.
Moreover, it also conveys that every time someone watches the tape, the curse grows stronger, pushing Samara further out of the confinements of the well.
2 Samara’s Father, Richard, Tried To Stop The Curse
There’s a scene where Noah sneaks into the psychiatric faculty where Samara was previously being held. When he goes through all of Samara’s documents at the facility, he finds an empty videotape case. This empty case had the same videotape that Rachel ends up finding at Richard’s home.
The tape reveals that Richard had tried helping his daughter by getting her psychiatric help. Furthermore, it also shows that Richard tried to hide all evidence surrounding the existence of his daughter. While it is unknown why he did so, it seems likely that he was trying to stop the curse from spreading further.
1 Samara Represents A Japanese Onryo
The long black-haired, pale-skinned girl trope was introduced to Hollywood through J-horror remakes such as The Ring and The Grudge. However, Japanese cinema has been playing around with the trope for a very long time. Its origins come from the Japanese concept of onryō or “vengeful spirits.”
According to Japanese folklore, these spirits tend to re-create all the wrongdoings that were enforced upon them when they were alive; similar to what Samara does in The Ring.
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