Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Ring (2002)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Ring (2002)

In director Gore Verbinski's disturbing remake of Hideo Nakata's equally-effective Ringu (1998, Jp.) - it told about a cursed videotape - if a person played and viewed the tape, they would receive a fatalistic phone call warning them that they only had seven days to live; the film's enigmatic tagline explained what the film's title was all about: "Before you die, you see the ring":

  • in the opening sequence, two 16 year-old teen girls Katie Embry (Amber Tamblyn) and 'Becca' Kotler (Rachael Bella), were watching TV in Katie's upstairs bedroom; Katie pondered about a possible 'conspiracy' regarding electro-magnetic waves killing brain cells: ("You have any idea how many electro-rays are traveling through our head every second?"); 'Becca' brought up an even more disturbing topic about a lethal VHS tape: "Have you heard about this videotape that kills you when you watch it?...You start to play it and it's, like, somebody's nightmare. Then suddenly, this woman comes on smiling at you, right? Seeing you through the screen and as soon as it's over, your phone rings. Someone knows you've watched it and what they say is: 'You will die in seven days'; Katie then admitted that she and her boyfriend Josh (and another teen couple) had watched the tape the previous weekend while sneaking off to stay at a rented cabin in the mountains for the night; believing that it was only a "sick joke" at the time, she then tensely noted: "It was a week ago, one week ago tonight"; she then faked choking to fool and scare her friend
  • shortly later, after Katie was terrorized by static on the downstairs TV (that unexpectedly turned on twice) and other strange noises in the now-empty house, she returned to her upstairs bedroom with a closed door and found the floor soaked with water; she stealthily entered and glanced at her TV - broadcasting a distant image of a well in the woods; suddenly, the unknown POV of the camera (an unseen force) raced toward Katie as she opened her mouth to scream (that was never heard), and a quick succession of unusual images played before the screen turned to static
Katie's Enigmatic Death by an Unseen Force: A Week After Watching Videotape
  • strong-willed, late 20s Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter-journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) lived with a young, untalkative son named Aidan (David Dorfman); he was a loner and there were indications that he was possibly a psychic or medium capable of the power of channeling spirits; at school, he had drawn pictures of a sleeping (or dead and buried) girl wearing black many days before his cousin Katie's sudden death; and he told his mother at bedtime that Katie had told him she knew she was going to die soon: "Katie knew. She told me....She said she didn't have enough time"
  • at Katie's funeral memorial held at the Embry home (with a closed coffin), Rachel was asked by her grieving sister Ruth Embry (Lindsay Frost), Katie's mother, to investigate her healthy daughter's unusual death of a stroke (her heart unexpectedly stopped); Ruth explained how she had discovered Katie crouched in a corner of her bedroom closet with a contorted, horrific, open-mouthed, disfigured and frozen face; it was presented as a shocking cutaway flashback scene
Katie's Disfigured Death Facial Expression With Swerved Features From Paralytic Shock
  • Rachel also overheard three upset teens outside discussing Becca's incarceration in a mental institution - she was present and witnessed Katie's death: "I mean, she was a little intense, but she wasn't crazy. They don't put you in booties and a straightjacket if you're just freaked out. Something scared the s--t out of her"; Rachel also learned that Katie had watched a cursed videotape: "The one that kills you when you watch it"; and she also happened to hear that Katie's boyfriend Josh supposedly killed himself the same night that Katie died, under mysterious circumstances [later, she read in a newspaper article that he had fallen from a 7th floor high-rise building, and that the second teen couple were killed in a car crash at exactly the same time, 10 pm]
  • as she delved into the mystery (her investigative skills led her to a photo processing store where there were pictures taken of Josh and Katie during their weekend trip to a rented cabin at the rustic Shelter Mountain Inn; one picture in front of cabin # 12 showed distorted and blurred faces on the two teen couples); Rachel visited the Inn where the two teen couples had spent the night; she rented the same cabin (# 12), and sneakily borrowed the only un-labeled videotape from the common lending library in the office area; in the room, she viewed the same cursed tape to try to find clues to Katie's death; after static, the first image was of a bright-ringed, slightly-swerving and glowing eclipse
Rachel Watching the Tape in the Cabin

The tape's surrealistic series of random, enigmatic objects and haunting images included (in this order):

  1. flowing, bloody water rushing into the ocean
  2. an empty, solitary chair (with reflected shadow) in the center of a room
  3. a close-up of comb strokes through hair
  4. an enigmatic woman (Samara's mother Anna) brushing her hair, seen within a framed oval-shaped mirror (1st time)
  5. a view of a 2nd mirror on the wall in the same room - this time a shadowy view of the undead, decomposed young girl Samara
  6. another view of the enigmatic woman looking over and smiling at the 2nd mirror (off-screen) (2nd time)
  7. a brief view of a nail, with blood at its tip
  8. a view looking up at a person (Richard Morgan) standing behind a closed window (1st time)
  9. a windy coastal scene (notice the fly walking in a circle on the image)
  10. a huge object (bubbles or umbilical cord?) coming out of a person's open mouth as they drown (Samara drowning?)
  11. a view of thrashing black plastic (the garbage bag used to suffocate Samara) (1st time)
  12. the closing of a well cover viewed from inside the well (1st time)
  13. a sole, burning Japanese maple tree (1st time)
  14. an index finger being pierced by a nail, and detaching the fingernail
  15. a sea of squirming maggots
  16. a sea of floundering humans
  17. a glass of water on a bare table in front of an empty, wooden chair
  18. a gigantic centipede crawling on the floor, appearing from under the table
  19. a lame farm animal (goat or three-legged lamb?)
  20. a close-up of a horse's large eyeball (in shock?!)
  21. the closing of a well cover viewed from inside the well (2nd time)
  22. a box full of seven amputated or detached twitching fingers
  23. a burning tree (2nd time)
  24. the thrashing black plastic (2nd time)
  25. the enigmatic woman turning around - her reflection seen in the framed oval-shaped mirror behind her (3rd time)
  26. a view looking up at a closed window (without anyone looking out this time) (2nd time)
  27. a twirling chair, spinning upside-down and in mid-air
  28. a ladder (1st time)
  29. a view of waves washing atop a horse corpse(s) in the ocean
  30. a zoomed view of a woman (Anna) falling forward to her suicidal death off the coast-side cliff
  31. the ladder, now toppling or falling forward to the ground (2nd time)
  32. the closing of a well cover viewed from inside the well - now sealed (last time)
  33. more of the ladder toppling down (3rd time)
  34. a view of the well from distant eye-level
  • when the tape concluded with more static, she ejected the cassette and immediately received a phone call from an unidentified caller who whispered softly "seven days"; she fled with the tape from the cabin and returned back to her apartment
  • at the start of her investigation, Rachel shared some of what she had already discovered with Noah Clay (Martin Henderson), her ex-boyfriend and the father of Aidan: (1) her own digital camera photographs that were facially-distorted, and (2) the videotape itself; after Noah watched the original tape, he reacted: "Roll credits. That was a very student film. I'm sure it's a lot scarier at night" - and then her phone rang a few times, but she refused to answer; as he left, he made an important request: "Make me a copy. I'll see what I can do"; she erased the answering machine message
  • at work in her workplace's media room, she made a duplicate or dubbed copy of the tape for Noah, but noticed that the numbers on the tape counter were randomly erratic and "all screwed up"; after she delivered the copy to Noah in his photography studio-apartment (a warehouse loft), he noted the numbering problem and also how strange it was that the original tape had no "control track" to indicate where the original came from; he asked himself: "To not have one....that's like being born without fingerprints"; they also realized that there was no evidence of a camera in any of the reflection shots; when she left, she took the 'copied' tape with her; outside, she was startled by an "unlucky" tall red ladder (one of the items in the video) leaning against the warehouse building
  • in a fascinating sequence, Rachel tenaciously sleuthed and conducted research to find further clues to the haunting images in the video; while examining the tape on a professional video deck (and printer) that allowed her to see the full edges of the frame, Rachel saw an intriguing clue: a lighthouse, and was able to grasp the lifelike house fly in one of the frames on her side of the screen - but then experienced a bloody nose; through further digging in the newspaper's research room, she identified the lighthouse as the one located on Moeski Island - and one of its restoration founders: Anna Morgan - identical to the woman brushing her hair in the mirror in the video; further Internet searches led her to the island's Morgan horse ranch owned by 'Anna Morgan' that raised prize-winning thoroughbreds, where a "mysterious sickness" in 1978 led to multiple carcasses that washed up on the beach (one of the video images); one strange newspaper article headline caught her eye: "HORSES RECOVERING AFTER BREEDER'S SUICIDE"; Anna Morgan's obituary stated that the depressed woman "may have jumped" to her death (the cliff-side suicidal woman) and "suffered from hallucinations" while under the care of a psychiatric institution
  • Rachel experienced strange hallucinations in a terrifying nightmare, beginning with water seeping from her telephone's earpiece, a long piece of string (at the end of a stick-on monitoring electrode) pulled from her throat, and in Aidan's bedroom - a dark-haired female figure in a white gown who sat in a chair in the middle of the room faced away from the door, with a big puddle of water on the floor from her wet hair; suddenly, the female latched onto Rachel's arm with her bloody, decomposed arm - and she imagined herself in a bare-walled room where she was under constant video camera surveillance - and was being monitored by plugged-in electrode wires; she woke up with a start at 2 am with red welts on her left arm where she had been grabbed
Rachel's Terrifying Nightmare
  • when she went to the living room, she found sleepless Aidan had just finished watching the cursed tape - and screamed: "NO!"; when the phone rang, she answered it defiantly: "Leave Him Alone!" - although the caller was Noah; he was suffering similar symptoms after watching the video (blurred facial images of himself)
  • on Rachel's Day 6, she proposed to take the ferry to Moeski Island (the location of the lighthouse) to further investigate the Morgans that she had learned about; after having Aidan dropped off at Ruth's place for child care, she encouraged Noah to learn more from the medical files at the Psychiatric Hospital where horsewoman Anna Morgan (Shannon Cochran) had been hospitalized; she told him: "The images on the tape are leading us somewhere. Katie saw them all, too. I think before you die you see the ring"
  • on the ferry crossing the channel to the island, Rachel spooked a stallion in a trailer that became agitated, broke out of its enclosure, went mad and lept overboard to its death in the water; as the horse's body hit the stern's motor blades, the water turned blood red (the same image in the video)
  • at the deserted Morgan Ranch horse farm, Rachel noticed the second-story window where a man stood behind a closed window in the video; she met mid-60s widower husband Richard (Brian Cox) who acknowledged that his dead wife's horses went crazy, broke through the fences, ran to the shore and drowned themselves; when Rachel pulled out the videotape cassette (calling it possibly "a message from your wife") and described it: "Anna's on this tape. She's right there in that room. You can see the lighthouse, the horses...", he clammed up, stated he wasn't even curious about the tape, told her to "leave it alone" - and even denied the existence of an adoptive daughter
Present Day
In the Video
Present Day

Richard Morgan
2nd Story Window of Morgan Horse Ranch
  • at the hospital after breaking into the 'dead' records file room in the basement, Noah found the Anna Morgan file - a few pages were punctuated by the words "hallucinations" and "conceived" (with at least two miscarriages); also in the file were some radiographs (with etched images in the X-ray emulsion paper); the file was missing for Anna's 'daughter' - whose therapy sessions were terminated in 1978 at her father's request - there was a reference to a video file stored in the hospital library; back in Seattle, Aidan had drawn two telling pictures: (1) the farmhouse with a married couple and dark-haired daughter, and (2) a black corona ring; on the phone, Aidan told his mother that the "little girl" somehow communicated with him, but "lives in a dark place now"
  • Rachel had a short conference with the island's general doctor Dr. Grasnik (Jane Alexander), who told her about the existence of Anna's adopted daughter Samara (Daveigh Chase) - a difficult problem child; Anna had complained: "Said she was suffering visions, seeing things, horrible things, like they'd been burned inside her and it only happened around Samara - that the girl put them there"; Samara was referred to the psychiatric institute to be studied
  • Rachel returned to the seemingly-unoccupied horse farm, where she slipped into the dark house; after searching around, she found Samara's actual birth certificate (she wasn't adopted!) - and then viewed the hospital's videotape (stolen by Richard) of Samara during one of her psychotherapy sessions; in the tape, Samara was questioned in a bare-walled room by a doctor about her insomnia and how she created the radiographs; she answered: "I don't make them. I see them and then they just are."

    [Note: Apparently, Samara had an unusual ability, known as nensha (projected thermography) - with her mind, she was able to thermographically imprint her thought images onto specific surfaces (ie, the VHS recording tape, or the radiographs); the cursed videotape was created or caused by her spirit, to present aspects of her own short life.]

  • it appeared that Samara could not control her power, literally drove her mother crazy, and caused her father to keep her isolated while making plans to send her away (or kill her)
  • suddenly, Samara's father Richard appeared behind Rachel, struck her in the head, grabbed the TV and fled upstairs, as Rachel accused him of murdering their own true daughter: "She was your daughter! You killed Samara, didn't you?"; he admitted: "My wife was not supposed to have a child," and then complained of Samara whispering things in his ear and creating visions, even to the horses: ("The things she'd show you....And she'll never stop. You coming here proves that...She never sleeps"); Samara was isolated in the horse barn's hay loft (with a red ladder) to keep her away; her only companion was a TV set
  • in a gruesome sequence, Samara's father Richard Morgan committed suicide by electrocution in a bathtub and over-flooded bathroom, after placing a horse bridle over his head and putting the bit in his mouth - and then powering up a switch
  • the etched or burnt image of the Japanese maple tree in the wooden barn loft's side wall led Noah and Samara back to the Shelter Mountain Inn where the tree (lit up by the sunset) was seen by Rachel during her first visit - it was the 7th day for Rachel; inside cabin # 12, a natural depression seen in the wooden floorboards revealed a damp discolored circle beneath the rug; Noah axed through the floor to reveal a round stone mound with a circular metal cover - it was an abandoned water well

    [Note: Shelter Mountain Inn, specifically Cabin 12 (and the site of the first few deaths in the film) was built over the site of the well]

    Noah asked: "Do you think she's down there?"; suddenly, a strange swarm of buzzing flies from the well caused Rachel to lose her balance and she was sucked down into the well
  • while waiting for Noah to get help to rescue her, Rachel noticed scratch marks and bits of fingernail on the walls of the well; after finding a mass of black hair in the water and noticing the lid sealing itself, Rachel experienced a vision of the death of Samara who had been deliberately pushed into the well to die; 24 years earlier, Anna Morgan approached her sleeping-gowned daughter Samara from behind and partially suffocated her with a black plastic bag, then thrust her daughter down into the circular water well; Samara watched from deep below; - her final sight, as the top of the well was sealed with a stone cover-lid, was a corona-like ring of daylight above her; in the hallucinatory scene, Rachel imagined that she was cradling the recently-deceased Samara in her arms - although she was a decomposed skeletal corpse; Samara had survived for seven days before dying - the same length of time that the videotape allowed its viewers to live
  • the next day - the 8th day (and Rachel was still alive), Rachel thought that the discovery of how Samara died and the proper burial of her body would end the troubling curse; she reassured Aidan that the killing spirit or curse of Samara through the videotape (specifically designed to have as many people suffer as possible, as she did) had been lifted by their liberation of Samara ("We set her free"); but she was wrong; Aidan warned: "You weren't supposed to help her....She never sleeps"
  • in the film's most scary and extremely chilling scene in Noah's studio-apartment, the TV turned on by itself behind Noah and he approached with apprehension and turned it off with a remote; when it came back on a second time, he knelt in front of the screen; the television projected an image of the well in the woods; he watched in horror as long, black-haired, decomposed and decaying dead girl Samara emerged out of the watery well grave in the woods and walked toward the screen; Rachel was frantically calling Noah at the same time (and racing to him in her car), but he was transfixed by the image and didn't answer; Noah jumped back as Samara literally crawled directly out of the TV set, leaving wet hand and footprints on the floor
Noah's Disturbing Death Sequence
  • he fell backwards, cascading a large multi-shelved bookcase onto the floor, and spraying broken glass; he struggled to crawl away, on top of the shards of sharp glass; when she looked up and confronted him with her lethal stare, he died of fright - thus fulfilling the 7-day curse of the videotape; Rachel found him dead in a chair in his apartment - and shrieked at the sight of his disfigured face at the time of death (off-screen)
  • tormented by Noah's death, Rachel asked herself: "What did he do that I didn't?" - she realized that she had been spared from being killed after 7 days because she passed the curse on by simply making a COPY of the videotape and giving it to someone else to watch ("She just wanted to be heard"); Samara had required that watchers of the tape would die in seven days unless they copied the tape and passed it on to "spread it like sickness"; in all, seven individuals viewed the tape (the four teens, Rachel, Noah, and Aidan), and those that died watched the tape but did not copy the tape and pass it along
  • in the final moments of the film, Rachel helped Aidan to make a copy of the tape to show someone else, so he would survive; but he asked the inevitable question in the film's haunting final line: "It's going to keep killing, isn't it? She'll never stop...What about the person we show it to? What happens to them?"
Images From Original 1998 Film

(l to r): Katie and Becca

Becca's Urban Legend of a Cursed Videotape

Katie's Confession to Becca: She Had Watched The Tape a Week Earlier

Katie Terrorized by Static on the Downstairs TV

Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts)

Rachel's Young Son Aidan

Aidan's Drawing of Katie Before Her Death

Rachel's Sister Ruth (Lindsay Frost)

Pictures of Teens at Rented Cabin - With Distorted Faces

Haunting Image of Sunlight Flaring Up a Tree on Hillside Near Cabins

The Last Image on the Videotape - A Well in the Woods

A Haunted Rachel During Her Investigation of Tape

Rachel's Ex-Boyfriend Noah Clay

Video Images Began to Reappear - Ladder

The Lifelike Housefly

Anna Morgan's Suicide After Mysterious Horse Illness at Morgan Ranch

Aidan Watching the Videotape

Bloodied Water From the Agitated Stallion Jumping Overboard from Ferry

Aidan's Two Drawings: Black-Haired 'Daughter' and Black Corona Ring

Hospital Videotape of Samara Being Studied in Psychiatric Institute

Richard's Electrocution in Bathtub

The Tree Burnt or Etched into Barn Loft's Wall

In Cabin # 12, A Circular Damp Spot on the Floorboards

An Abandoned Well Beneath the Flooring

Looking Down into the Water Well

Rachel at the Bottom of the Well

Rachel's Visionary Flashback: Samara's Murder in the Well - Seen as a Ring From Below

Rachel - Imagining Samara in Her Arms - In Reality, Her Body Had Decomposed

Aidan's Warning: "She never sleeps"

Noah's Disfigured Face

Aidan's Final Line of Dialogue to Rachel: "What about the person we show it to? What happens to them?"


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