The Ring really captures that feeling when you watch an unsettling video clip and then get the impression you're being haunted by an unstoppable supernatural force that wants you dead. It's the same one I get anytime I accidentally catch some of The Bachelor. It's 15 years after American audiences were first stalked by the girl in the well in an adaptation of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu. She's called Samara in 2002's The Ring and uses a cursed video tape to reach unsuspecting viewers with her cryptic message. Rings comes out Feb. 3 and is the second sequel to the original. Does Samara appear in Rings or is a new villain making an entrance? Warning for Rings spoilers ahead!
By now, most modern horror fans know what the deal is with Samara and the tape. In the first American Ring film, Naomi Watts plays Rachel Keller, a journalist who uncovers the whole story. Samara was an orphaned child who terrorized her adoptive mother by transmitting disturbing images into her brain. Her mother eventually killed her by tossing her into a well and letting her starve to death. The heroine believes that giving Samara a proper burial will end the videotape curse, but the girl is not and will never be satisfied. She's back in The Ring 2, possessing Rachel's young son and causing more death and mayhem.
Samara's malevolent ghost is what makes the videotape sentient. There can't be a Rings without Samara Morgan. In the first two movies, Samara is played by Daveigh Chase; in Rings, the actor appears only in archival footage. (Chase is now 26, while Samara is trapped in childhood.) But the girl is still the center of the entire plot. Johnny Galecki plays a college professor who finds the tape at a flea market and engages a group of students to help him study it. But they're playing with fire; eventually the chain breaks down, a "tail" is late to watch the copy intended for them, and Samara gets her kill.
From there, it's back to investigating Samara's childhood. Julia (Matilda Lutz) and her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) travel to the girl's birthplace after Julia "unlocks" new images within the tape. There, they learn the tragic truth about Evelyn, Samara's birth mother, who appears briefly in The Ring 2. Samara's bloodlust may be the result of the conditions under which she was born. Evelyn was the star of her town — a beautiful girl with a beautiful voice. She endured horrific abuse at the hands of a person she should have been able to trust. She gave birth to a baby girl under extreme duress.
I won't give away the film's final twist, but suffice it to say that the legend of Samara gets a bit of a reboot. Samara plays a huge role in Rings, particularly in her waterlogged corpse state. And the conclusion of the film sets the stage for many possible sequels to come.