The movie, The Ring, which came out in 2002, was a remake of a Japanese movie titled Ringu which came out in 1998. This movie was based on a book simply titled Ring/Ringu *リング* by an author named Koji Suzuki. I’m only mentioning all of this so people are very aware that I know that the American remake is different from the Japanese original and the original movie is different from the book. Though I would say that both of them were adapted very well for screen from the source material the book is and always will be the best version. However, is that so unusual? Not really. Still, that’s not the point I’m trying to make.
Without getting into spoilers for the actual novel (which is a trilogy consisting of three books, Ring, Spiral, and Loop which I’d highly recommend), I want to get into the American Version. There will be spoilers but the movie has been out for almost 20 years if you were going to see it you probably would have already and the twist is so well known it’s kind of pop culture. Like the ending to The Sixth Sense. You’ve been warned but, I’d be shocked if my blog post was what inevitably ruined the movie for you.
The story is quite a bit different from the Japanese movie and the book, mostly in the fact that the original Villain or antagonist (whatever you wish to call her) is a child in the American movie and she’s an adult in the book and the Japanese movie. Also, the Japanese movie doesn’t have anything to do with horses or living around or with them. For the most part, there are enough similarities to all of the stories that it still holds together as a very good remake but it departs in the way the story is told. Samara Morgan (as she is known in the American version) was adopted by her mother Anna. A woman who was desperate for a child. The father, Richard Morgan, not so much.
When Samara turned out to not be the perfect child that Anna wanted she was abused and neglected. Locked in the barn with the prize winning horses that her parents owned and seemed to love more than her. Probably did love more than her. I’m certain her father did because he was very against adopting Samara in the first place. She wasn’t an ordinary child and there is no real explanation as to where she came from in the American movies just that she was adopted from some place. She also had the power to put images in people’s heads. Really messed up images. Which eventually led to her being placed in an asylum for psychological treatment. She also didn’t sleep, ever.
The movie starts with showing things from one angle, which is how Samara was treated by her parents. Slowly it is found out that she was neglected, secluded to a barn, and institutionalized. The protagonist, Rachel, comes across a videotape of her being interviewed at the asylum during her investigation into the cursed video tape that killed her niece. The idea behind all of this led her to believe that Samara created this cursed tape so someone could find her body and give her a proper burial. You see because when Anna couldn’t tame this child she murdered her and threw her into a well on the family’s property.
By the end, Rachel finds Samara’s body with the help of her friend and baby daddy, Noah and they are able to remove her from the well and presumably give her a proper burial. Only to find out that what she wanted all along was to pass her story, for the world to feel her pain, for everyone to know she had suffered and for them to suffer in the way she had. Dying in that well for seven days.
Of course, one would ask how anyone could possibly see this as anything other than a horror movie or feel sorry for Samara. She was ultimately evil, right? First she drove the horses to suicide then shortly after her mother murdered her, she committed suicide as well. Seemingly for no reason other than she was just “evil”. Or was that the case? As we see in the interview with Samara at the hospital she is being told to change. She’s being told that her father loves her. She says, “Daddy loves the horses, he wants me to go away”. Which is true, because he didn’t care for her. After a time, her mother didn’t either.
There is at least some implication that if her mother and father hadn’t locked her away and neglected her in the manner they had, and took the time to understand her, things could have turned out differently. There’s no real reason given for why she was showing them these images. Was it payback for the abuse she was suffering? Was it because she was a child and unable to control it at first? Was it because she didn’t turn out to be what they wanted? Was it because they cared more about the horses and winning shows than they cared about her? Sure, it could have just been because she was evil but the question remains, was it by nature or was it by nurture?
The reason this has always been such a compelling movie to me is because, as sad as it is, I could find myself relating to Samara’s story more than I was likely supposed to. However, we have some very weird things in common.
We were both adopted by a woman who seemed to desperately want a child and wasn’t able to have one
When we didn’t live up to expectations from our parents we were abused and mistreated
When we tried to explain to people that we were being abused and mistreated we were dismissed and told our parents loved us when we knew that wasn’t the truth
Ultimately we were both discarded when the timing was right. For Samara it happened to be murder and for me it was being kicked out of the house at 18 to be homeless and ignored. Not as cruel, surely, but similar.
Samara being painfully aware that her father didn’t actually love her and was more interested in his business, reputation, and horses than he ever was in her reminds me so much of how my father is. That was always the concern around the house. Any time I did anything they didn’t like, “How do you think this makes your father look?” I can’t tell you how many times I heard that. I was aware from a very young age that I was not what they wanted or expected and even worse, my mother had two biological children after me who were very obviously the favorites. Especially the one born first, the golden child.
For years, even to this day, I did everything I could to try to expose what was going on. Explain to anyone that would listen that my father was a walking piece of garbage. However, my father having a lot more power than I ever did as a child (and would as an adult) made sure to convince everyone around us that I was the problem, not him. That he never did anything wrong. That he was the victim. That I was the demon and that I was the one ruining his life. That he loved me anyway but it was so hard having an emotionally unstable child to take care of. That was my life. In public, around his friends, everyone thought he was a damn saint. In private at home, he was a walking nightmare. Something I couldn’t escape and still can’t.
I’ve become convinced that my father would be much happier if I were dead. That he’s intentionally caused me so much grief, stress, and harm that he’s been hoping since I was much younger that it would happen. That maybe he could drive me to suicide or put me in such a dangerous position that someone else would end my life. I think he’s fed up with it and I believe he thought that I’d have been gone way before now or at least “someone else’s problem”. Though he failed very much to realize that if you set your child up for failure (like he has with me) then that is what they will be. A failure. If you raise your child to believe they are a burden on your life, that is what they will become. A burden.
Much like Samara, I am left to wonder how things may have changed if they’d shown me support. If they’d treated me like part of the family. If they had acted like I was wanted and actually loved me like they were supposed to. I recall, vividly, several psychiatrists telling them that my behavior was a result of feeling and being neglected. That if they just took the time to listen to me and validate my feelings they could see a huge difference in what they perceived to be my “problems”. Except, they refused to do that. They didn’t have the time, patience, or consideration. They wanted me to be a problem so I became a problem and now they are surprised that I’m still a problem.
Though I would never wish for others to suffer like Samara did or create a way for people to suffer (like a curse tape). There is one final thing I’ve always had in common with her. Just wanting to be heard. Having a voice. An outlet. To be validated. In all this time…it has yet to happen. For as long as I’ve survived and put up with this without having a complete mental breakdown, it makes me wonder if I ever was this person my parents told everyone I am, and if the day will ever come that they will admit they were wrong.
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