(The Ring horror movies)
This is Samara, the evil spirit from the 2002 – 2017 The Ring horror films.
These films are based on the 1998 Japanese movie リング (Ringu). Which is in turn based off the novel The Ring by Koji Suzuki.
The film helped popularize the well-established Japanese “string-haired ghost girl” horror trope in Western cinema.
(“Well” established. That was a pun – Ed.).
This entry has S P O I L E R S.
- Real Name: Samara Morgan.
- Known Relatives: Evelyn Borden (Mother), Galen Burke (Father, deceased), Richard Morgan (Adoptive father, deceased), Anna Morgan (Adoptive mother, deceased).
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Astoria, Oregon. Previously Seattle, Washington.
- Height: 4’4″ (1.32m) (5’0″ (1.52m) as a ghost). Weight: 60 lbs. (27 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black.
Powers & Abilities
Samara is a ghost. Born with psychic abilities, she carried these powers into the afterlife. Dying only increased her psychic power.
Samara’s main ability is nensha (“projected thermography”). This is the psychic power to burn images from her mind onto any solid surface. In DC Heroes TTRPG terms, that’s Telepathy and Pyrotechnics.
This explains why:
- Her adopted parents suffered visions.
- How she burned her handprint onto victim’s arms – or a tree into walls.
- How she burned images onto the video tape that Katie and her friends used to copy a football game.
Samara has plenty of other psychic powers. She has:
- Forced horses to go insane with fear, fleeing into the sea and drowning (Telepathy to show them horrifying images).
- Used Telekinesis to lift a stone weighing a few hundred pounds.
- Telepathically contacted those who’ve seen her cursed tape.
- Used devices, phones, appliances, computers – turning them on and off (Interface).
- Located people who saw her tape within a radius covering the entire state of Washington (Life Sense).
- Traveled to and from the realm of the dead, opening a doorway through TV screens.
- Dragged others’ spirits into her realm (Dimension Travel – Banish).
- Forcefully projected multiple images into the minds of her victims slaying them, causing heart failure and disfigurement.
Additional powers in Rings and The Ring 2
Ever since Rachel laid her bones to rest and Julia burned them, Samara’s powers changed or increased. She:
- Appeared physical to Rachel (Mental illusion).
- Possessed Julia and Aidan Keller (Personality Transfer). Samara can choose to lie dormant and just ride along. She usually does this when her host is asleep. When she takes control, the host’s core temperature drops to around 90 degrees (32°C).
The Ring Trailer
The Cursed Tape
Samara created the first tape using Projected Thermography. She placed images from her life and death onto it.
Samara is connected to all copies of the tape. If a tape is destroyed, Samara knows it.
Anyone watching the tape is telepathically flagged by Samara, then marked for death. Less than a minute after watching the tape, the phone closest to the marked victim rings. “Seven days” is heard. Refusing to answer the call won’t make a difference.
One tell-tale sign of those marked is their faces appear distorted in new photographs and videos.
Destroying the tape won’t save a victim who’s already watched it. Samara can make another copy if no more exist.
All sorts of metaphysical odd stuff happen within the seven days. Such as:
- Nose bleeds.
- Flashes of scenes from the tape when seeing something similar in real-life.
- Victims will absent-mindedly mark out pictures of women’s faces. Scratching it out like a string-haired ghost.
After seven days
The TV screen will turn on by itself. White static noise will play for a few seconds, replaced by an image of the well sitting in an open field. Samara emerges from the well and walks towards the screen.
She exits the TV screen, crawling out. Water dripping. Samara lifts her head, hair parting, her eye clouds slightly. She mentally projects all the images from the cursed videotape into the victim’s mind all at once, causing an intense mental overload.
Her victim dies, their heart gives out and their face distorts, frozen in agonizing terror.
How to survive watching the tape
Once you’ve seen the tape the only thing you can do to avoid a visit from Samara is to help her. Make a copy of the tape and show it to someone else. You have seven days, go.
Anna Morgan was happy and safe. She bred horses on Moesko Island with her husband, Richard.
Anna had trouble conceiving and when she did, couldn’t carry a baby to term. She wanted a child more than anything.
Then something happened.
One winter they went away, and returned with one Samara. Adopted, they said. Samara’s birth certificate records Anna and Richard as her parents.
Samara’s real parentage
Samara’s mother, Evelyn Borden, lives at St. Mary Magdalen Women’s Shelter. She claimed that her daughter had no father.
Mentally ill, Ms. Borden tried to drown Samara as a baby – saying it was to save her. Samara was taken from her, and the shelter helped with the adoption to the Morgans.
Samara’s father, Galen Burke, lived in the town of Sacrament Valley. He was a priest with a dark side. He kidnapped a girl (Evelyn) and held her captive under the Church for 8½ months. She was pregnant with Samara.
Life with the Morgans
Things were fine with the Morgans for a while.
Then Anna started visiting the island’s only doctor. She was suffering hallucinations. She claimed horrible images were burned into her brain – and that Samara had put them there.
Richard moved Samara to a room he built for her in the barn loft. The horses kept Samara awake, she hated them.
One day, all the horses went mad at once. They broke free of the barn and stormed out to the ocean. Most of them drowned. Richard put down the rest.
Sent to the mainland
They never bred horses after that.
The island doctor referred both Anna and Samara to a mental institute on the mainland. Richard stayed behind on the ranch.
Anna then murdered Samara, tossed her body down a well, and committed suicide by jumping from a cliff.
However… Samara survived. She lived for seven more days at the bottom of the well.
A group of teens took a weekend at a cabin in the woods, the Shelter Mountain Inn.
They brought a recorded football game to watch while there. But when they started playing it it was something different. Weird, like someone’s nightmare. Then after the brief footage finished, the phone rang. The caller only whispered, “Seven days.”
Seven days later, each of them was dead.
Scott Conroy and Stacy Miller died in a car crash… Josh Turandot, Katie’s boyfriend, fell to his death.
Katie Embry died of fear, her heart gave out at home. Her face horribly distorted. All of them died at exactly 10:00 PM (22h).
Katie’s friend, Becka, witnessed Samara’s attack. She now silently sits in a mental hospital.
Katie was good friends with her first cousin, a boy named Aidan Keller. Aidan’s mom is Rachel Keller, a journalist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Rachel investigated Katie’s mysterious death.
She went to the cabin found and watched the cursed tape. Rachel told her ex-boyfriend Noah, a photographer and the father of their son, what she’d discovered and her fear of watching the tape.
He wanted to help and watched the tape too. Rachel made a copy of the tape for Noah.
Watching the cursed tape, a death sentence
A few days later, horrified, she discovered Aidan watching the copied tape.
The clues from that tape pieced together Samara’s past. It led Rachel to the Morgans’ ranch and back to The Shelter Mountain Inn.
This allowed Rachel to find Samara’s bones, still at the bottom of a well. She had them transferred to their final resting place.
But the Moesko Island community disapproved of the girl’s burial in their graveyard. She was instead laid to rest in the Sacrament Valley cemetery.
Rachel’s seven days came and went. She was safe. It was over.
It totally wasn’t over
When Noah’s seven days were up, Samara killed him. Rachel then understood that by making a copy of the tape and having someone else watched it, her son, she had saved her own life.
To save Aidan, she guided him in making a copy too. That tape was dropped off at a random video store. Some stranger would watch it and Aidan would be safe. Rachel hoped that would be the end of it.
Time passed. A subculture grew surrounding the cursed tape. Others learned how to escape death through copying the tape and many more copies were made. Friends circulated it, watched it, made copies and had others watch it.
Internet groups were created. People posted recordings of each day in a search for knowledge.
No one had recorded day seven. People were too freaked out and had someone watch their copy before time ran out.
(2017 sequel Rings probably occurs between the first and second film. It expands upon the 2005 Rings short feature. There is no explanation to how Samara could have escaped the well after Rachel closed it at the end of The Ring 2).
Biology professor Gabriel bought an old VCR. Within was an old VHS tape.
It was a copy of Samara’s cursed tape. As things got weird, he learned more about it and even how to pass it on to others by making copies.
Gabriel enlisted the help of his students, saying this was an opportunity to learn about this link to the afterlife. Soon, many students were involved. Each making copies. Professor Gabriel sets up “tails”, a person to watch your copy before the seven days deadline has expired.
Julia got involved when her boyfriend, Holt, went missing. Julia arrived on Holt’s campus and discovered the Rings community setup by Gabriel.
To save her boyfriend, Julia watched Holt’s copy. She attempted to make a copy of her own. Samara used this to add more scenes to the tape.
(Well, by this time it’s no longer a tape. It’s a computer file with the digitized footage).
The new information leads Julia to Sacrament Valley. This is where Samara’s bones were laid to rest. They discover more of the mystery of Samara’s past, including her real mother and father.
She’s coming, there’s no stopping her
Julia interpreted the new information from the video to mean she needed to burn Samara’s bones to free her soul. But if you’ve been paying attention, you know helping Samara is not the thing to do.
Once free, Samara’s spirit possessed Julia.
Samara forwarded copies of her video to all of Julia’s email contacts. But while she had learned how to use possession, it did not free her of the well (as seen in The Ring Two).
The rings community continued until Jake Pierce tricked a girl in his class, Emily, into watching it. Being told it was scary, she covered her eyes for the entire thing. Samara came for Jake and Emily witnessed his death.
The Ring Two
Six months passed. Rachel moved to Astoria, Oregon for a new job. A new start.
Rachel heard of Jake’s killing and recognized the details. Water. Victim killed right in front of the TV. A traumatized witness who no longer could speak.
She investigated and saw Jake’s distorted face. Just like Katie Embry’s and Noah’s before, confirming Samara had done it.
Rachel broke into Jake’s house. She retrieved the copy of the cursed tape and burned it.
Angry at the destruction of the tape, Samara turned her attention toward Aidan.
The following day, at a Farmer’s Market and Antique Fair, Rachel and Aidan became separated. Aidan was possessed by Samara. He caught her image in several photographs.
Samara wants a new mother
Later, in the hospital, Aidan grabbed Rachel’s arm. The possessing Samara sent a whole string of new images into Rachel’s head.
Rachel took the new information and started again. She traveled back to Washington and discovered Samara’s birthmother, Evelyn.
Evelyn advised Rachel to kill her child. Samara will leave if her host is dying.
Samara, still possessing Aidan, wrongly assumed that since Rachel went looking into her past, as Anna did, she loved her. She would inhabit Aidan’s body, pretend to be him, and live with her new mom, Rachel.
Samara gave her identity away when she called Rachel “Mommy”. Aidan never did that, he instead called her “Rachel”.
Rachel drugged her boy then took him upstairs to the bathroom. She drowned him there. Samara left Aidan’s body and fled back to her realm. Back to the well.
Back downstairs the TV came to life. Samara’s well appeared on the screen. Rachel realized she would never stop. So, she told Samara to take her instead of her son. She would be Samara’s mother.
Samara dragged Rachel’s spirit through the TV and down the well.
From the bottom of the well, Rachel looked up and saw the stone wasn’t completely closed. She realized that it had always been open. She climbed up and sealed it shut, trapping Samara inside.
Rachel then found her way back to the land of the living and re-entered her own body.
A water-logged pale white corpse with long black hair completely obscuring her face.
She is missing fingernails as a result of trying to escape the well.
She stands with her arms drooping down in front of her.
She wears a dirty ragged white dress.
Samara looks unreal, sharply contrasted with her surroundings. She doesn’t cast a shadow.
Samara is a child. She thinks as a child. A child with powerful psychic abilities that no one understood.
She enjoyed tormenting her mother and father with horrifying images projected into their mind. Did she love her mother? I think so, but she truly is a sadist and as she said, “It won’t stop.”
She liked humming and singing to herself. She had plenty of toys and a TV in her loft.
As a ghost, she is filled with hate. She projects images of her life and death. This is her self-justification to murder others. But hurting others had always come naturally for her.
In the first film, I think if you met her in a hundred years, she would be exactly the same. Her hatred wouldn’t recede in the least. Like she’s stuck in that moment. A force of nature.
Yet, in Rings and The Ring Two, Samara’s motivation changes when she possesses Julia and finds Rachel and Aidan in Oregon.
We don’t get to see what she does while possessing Julia. But after taking possession of Aidan, she didn’t seem to know what to do. She:
- Panicked a group of deer, causing them to attack
- Drained Aidan’s fish-tank of water. Probably because of what water can do to her.
- Made lights flicker and turned appliances on and off with no purpose.
- Didn’t control Aidan’s actions until she had spent a lot of time there.
Though she has lots of power, she is a child and doesn’t use them to their full potential.
Possessing Aidan caused her to want her mother again.
(Singing by the well) “Here we go, the world is spinning. When it stops, it’s just beginning. Sun comes up, we all laugh. Sun goes down, we all die…”
Doctor: “Samara, how did you make these pictures ?”
Samara: “I don’t… make them, I see them. Then, they just are.”
Samara: “I love my mommy.”
Doctor: “Yes you do. But you don’t want to hurt her anymore do you ? You don’t want to hurt anyone.”
Samara: “But I do. I’m sorry. It won’t stop.”
“I found you.”
Aidan (while possessed): “She can hear us. She hears everything. Except when we sleep.”
(Samara possessing Aidan, speaking of Rachel) “I want to go home to mommy. She loves me. She went looking for me. She tried to find me. It means she loves me.”
“Julia don’t leave me.”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
This story lends itself to a detective story. This way the heroes are in a race against time.
Facing Heroes with high Mental/Mystical Attributes who are on equal footing takes away the horror aspect. There would be no need to investigate or try to beat the seven-day clock.
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
|Dex: 03||Str: 00||Bod: 00|
|Int: 02||Wil: 05||Min: 04|
|Inf: 03||Aur: 08||Spi: 08|
|Init: 010||HP: 010|
Dimension Travel: 08, Interface: 05, Life Sense: 26, Mental Blast: 04, Mental Illusion: 11, Personality Transfer: 07, Pyrotechnics: 08, (Self-Linked) Spirit Travel: 02, Telekinesis: 05, Telepathy: 08
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Dimension Travel doesn’t allow for Summon (-1 FC).
- Dimension Travel is only between her pocket dimension (the well) and Earth (-100 BC).
- Dimension Travel has the Location Jumping Bonus (+100 BC).
- Interface has Range (+1 FC).
- Life Sense only detects beings who’ve watched her tape.
- Mental Illusion (Primary) and Mental Blast use the Combined Power Usage Bonus (-2 FC).
- Mental Illusion is used to kill Samara’s targets, Mental Blast attacks the victim’s heart and face deformed.
- Telepathic contact is made when the tape is watched. Samara only uses Telepathy to imprint images into the minds of her victims.
- Self-Link (Spirit Travel) is Always On.
- Self-Link (Spirit Travel) does not prevent Samara from making mental attacks (+5 FC).
- Self-Linked Spirit Travel has Form Function (+1 FC).
Acrobatics (Climbing): 03, Artist (Drawing): 02
Life Support (Full), Lightning Reflexes.
Strange Appearance, Minor Psychological Instability (sadistic), Power Loss (All powers if submerged underwater, except Self-Linked Spirit Travel).
Life Support was limited to “No need to sleep” when Samara was alive.
Samara (and her Japanese incarnation Sadako) are called onryo in Japanese folklore. These ghosts manifest after dying in the grip of powerful rage and returns to seek vengeance on the living.
(I suppose that Polychrome before Halloween Girl calmed her down could be classified as onryo – Ed.).
The film is tinged with green to give the film a sickly, unnatural feeling.
From a book Evelyn made, some kind of ritual may have been used during Samara’s conception. This part isn’t spelled out in the film. Other internet sites talk about a water-demon being the father.
The description of Spirit Travel should preclude Samara from being able to make attacks at all. But it’s Samara’s main thing. I assume this was done for game balance, so, I’ve given a bonus to her so she can attack at a cost of +5 FC.
Mind Blast would seem to be the right power to describe overwhelming the mind of her victims with a flood of images. I decided to go with Mental Illusion as it can also do damage.
Source of Character: 2002 movie The Ring, 2005 Rings (short feature), 2005 The Ring Two, 2016 The Grudge vs The Ring and 2017 Rings. Character played by Daveigh Chase (The Ring), Kelly Stables (The Ring two and Rings short), Bonnie Morgan (Rings). Kelly Stables, in an uncredited role, played the ghostly Samara.
Helper(s): IMDb , thering.fandom.com , Angela Vaughn.
Writeup completed on the 5th of July, 2021.