One of my favorite things about Gore Verbinski’s version of The Ring (2002) is the bold statements about children expressed within the film. First Dr. Grasnick (Jane Alexander) articulates an understated fact about parenting and later Samara (Daveigh Chase) challenges our worldview of children. Dr. Grasnick expresses relief on behalf of the town that Samara disappeared never to be found. Discussion about Samara reveals the difficulty of parenting, the fissures that surface in a relationship with the arrival of a child, and the fear of what version of your child will be unleashed unto society.
Unlike many horror fans, I was not too impressed with The Ring (2002). As the story of a possessed video that once watched curses the viewer to death by a demonic spirit, the film is more interested in conveying a sense of dread than it is in creating bloody spectacles. And while I’m not necessarily against that approach in horror, I just never found the essential horror being explored all that compelling. And so it was with very little expectation that I went into a viewing of Ringu (1998), the Japanese film that The Ring remade. What I discovered is that watching these two films as companion pieces instead of as individual films yields a much more interesting commentary on the connection between community and monstrosity.
Gore Verbinski’s The Ring centers on an infamous videotape and was released, ironically, at the very moment in time (2002) that VHS was becoming obsolete, replaced by digital recording technologies. I recently taught the film, wondering if it still has anything to say, thirteen years later, now videotape truly is obsolete. I’m convinced, after another round of watching it, that The Ring is still very relevant. In fact, the film’s fundamental message—that the media are taking “us” over, replacing “brain cells” with images—is more true today than it was at the beginning of the millennium.