Creepy Countdown: The legacy of The Ring
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The American adaptation of Japanese classic Ringu turns 15 years old this week, having been released on 18th October 2002 in the US originally.
The Ring has long been lauded as a definitive work within the horror genre, terrifying audiences from its initial release and onwards without fail. In the decade and a half since its inception, the film has collected an impressive 14 awards and 11 further nominations – plenty for what would technically be a rip-off movie.
Based on Hiedo Nataka’s 1998 film, which was originally drawn from a series of novels, the narrative follows journalist Rachel (Naomi Watts), who is haunted by a supernatural videotape that leaves the watcher with seven days to live. Initially sceptical of the story, it isn’t until four teenagers pass away that Rachel’s curiosity is piqued enough to watch the tape – soon realising her potentially fatal mistake.
Sparking two sequels in The Ring Two (2005) and the more recent Rings (2017), the legacy that was born from one innocuous little videotape is hard to replicate, though many tried with a string of J-horror remakes for the American market in the years to follow.
It’s not hard to see how The Ring was so successful however, with Director Gore Verbinski’s focus on creeping dread rather than outright gore, and a spine-tinglingly intense score from Hans Zimmer himself combining to create a truly horrifying piece of cinema. Not many can forget the first time they see Samara crawling through the television set to claim her victims, sparking a trend for the long, black hair and pasty white bodies of horror monsters we see even up to today. Many have recreated their own ‘ghost-sighting’ videos based on this look, suggesting that they aren’t real – or perhaps that the films are spreading the truth about what our supernatural friends really look like.
In particularly Hitchcockian fashion, Verbinski even created his own ‘cursed’ tapes to hand out for the American and Canadian showings, with marketing for the film causing unprecedented sales across all outlets. Within the film itself, subliminal images of ‘the ring’ are intermingled with regular shots – almost impossible to notice unless you know what to look for. The full ‘cursed’ tape itself is available to watch as a DVD Easter egg, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who makes plans more than a week in advance.
The mystery of The Ring comes not only from its narrative, but from the title itself. Potentially a reference to the ring of light from the well, from the phone call, or from even the circular nature of the plot, there’s plenty to think about when it comes to symbolism throughout the film. Incorporating circles and rings as subconscious references is also a Verbinski-trick throughout, with plenty to be found if you keep an eye out. The doctors jumper, journalist Rachel’s apartment number, and the shower drain are just a few to keep you going.
Full of suspense, intricately shot, and incorporating some of the biggest names within cinema – not just horror – The Ring is a perfect addition to any fans of scary movies if it isn’t already on your list, still packing a punch 15 years on.