I remember when the USA version of The Ring came out when I was really young and everyone in middle school had watched it at someone’s sleepover the weekend it was released on DVD. I overheard conversations in the hallway about how my classmates had nightmares about Samara (Daveigh Chase) creeping out of their TV in the middle of the night. I brushed it off, because I was too busy loving the old go-to-horror-classics to care. I didn’t really get into modern horror until my high school years, when I started watching movies like Saw, House of 1,000 Corpses and Insidious, and I didn’t see The Ring until I
was out of college. I was in my 20’s, and I wasn’t really into it the first time I saw it. It was creepy, sure, but not as scary as everyone hyped it up to be. I re-watched it and for some reason, it really clicked with me the second time around. I loved the filming, the acting was superb and I noticed little details here and there that I didn’t catch the first time. There’s so much depth and meaning to this film that I swear I could write a 50 page English paper on the topic of the themes alone in The Ring.
I think The Ring spoke to me so much more as an adult because I had developed more of an understanding of how females perfectly fit into the horror movie genre. There are so many opportunities for the women involved in this film: the cast is primarily female, (there are really only three main male characters) and we get to see the hero and the villain, along with the side characters from a female perspective. The theme that carries the entirety of the film focuses on a mother’s love for her biological child (Rachel and her son, Aiden), and is balanced out by a mother’s hate for her adopted child (Anna and Samara). It shows both sides of the coin when it comes to being a mother and struggling with the ability to raise or even conceive a child, and really sheds light on the topic in such a way that it leaves you thinking about it long after the movie has ended.
I don’t think it’s any surprise why the number 7 is used in the film. The whole plot goes like this: after you view a menagerie of creepy imagery (which relates to the life and death of Samara, the evil spirit in the form of a little girl) captured on a VHS tape, a countdown begins to your death. You receive a phone call and an ominous voice on the other end says two words “seven days” and so your timer starts immediately. You have seven days to show someone else the tape in order to save you from your own demise – it’s a never ending circle. A little bit of background research into numerology will tell you that seven is often used as a symbol for those who are truth seekers, for those in tune with spirituality and it is attributed to the tarot card of The Chariot, which symbolizes drive, ambition, strength and completion. All of these could easily describe Rachel (Naomi Watts).
I think Rachel is the real reason why I fell in love with The Ring. She’s pretty much what I aspire to be- strong intelligent, successful, and straight to the point. Rachel’s character does such a great service to women in horror that I cannot help but applaud those who were involved in the films creation, especially Naomi Watts, who did a stand up job for bringing Rachel to life. It’s not just that Rachel is a badass, though. She’s a single mother but that doesn’t outshine her autonomous self.
She’s a single mother with ambition and a career.
This film lends single motherhood more than a nod, which is something that isn’t often seen in this genre. Because of this, I think it lead the way for films like The Babadook and even The Conjuring 2 which feature single mothers amidst a haunting trying to provide for their children. But The Ring is unique because Rachel is not sitting there wringing her
hands and sobbing in a puddle when something happens to her or her son. She gets friggin’ going, trying everything in her power to stop something terrible from happening to Aiden. That speaks volumes about the reality of motherhood and what women are capable of. It does away with the notion that working single mothers are neglectful of their children- kind of like how The Exorcist portrays Chris, Regan’s mother. Chris is a working woman who maybe isn’t as attentive to her daughter as she could be- and she becomes helpless after Regan is possessed, so she calls upon a male priest for his guidance and to have her daughter exorcised. In the The Ring, Rachel takes the reins. She uses her drive to get her son out of danger.
If that doesn’t scream female empowerment, I don’t know what does.