Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Female Villains in Horror: Samara

Could somebody cut this girl's ratty hair off, please?

Samara from The Ring is one nasty young lady.
For some reason, she has a bug up her ass about being pushed into a well to die by her depressed adoptive mother. 'Course not that Samara had all her chess pieces on the board anyway. It isn't just anyone who can cause an entire ranch of horses to actually go mad and commit suicide (this may very well be the first film I have seen in which animals take their own lives!).

As if the equine holocaust isn't distressing enough, it's also not just anyone who can cause their mother to not only kill the daughter she yearned for so badly, but hurl herself off a cliff to her death. And it is exceedingly rare to have a man become so afraid of the legacy of his daughter's curse that he electrocutes himself with about a hundred electronic devices in his bathtub.

It is perplexing that Samara's main goal in life is to have people watch a thirty second videotape of doom just so they "know her story". What an interesting decision on her part - instead of a normal 'see me in the mirror or in the backseat of your car' haunting, she resorts to modern technology for her revenge. (I think it bears asking the question, would it be a DVD if the movie were made today?)

Anyway, Samara's backstory is never given much thought, it seems. We don't know exactly why she is so maliciously unstable - just that she is. And she makes others go off the deep end as well. Either that or you get seven days after watching a video to get your affairs in order - because you're soon to be riding the great Morgan horse in the sky, people.

Samara is nothing if not effective. The contorted looks on people's faces at their time of death is quite gruesome, and the strange stop-motion freaky-walking that these J-Horror films seem so fond of does get under your skin the first time you experience it. Unusual visions and strange occurrences plague the vicitms of viewing the videotape and increase in intensity as your week of impending doom continues.

And to be perfectly honest, the goddamned terrifying scenes of a water-logged Samara climbing out of the well and then the television are images that have stuck with me until this day, and if not for the horse running off the ferry (oh the horror!), those clips would be the worst (read: stupefying) moments in that movie.

Samara continues her wrath in The Ring Two, but the movie cannot bring about the same visceral reaction that the first one does upon seeing it, and is a disappointment. Trying to explain her past and the reason for her homicidal ways just doesn't pan out, and they should have left well enough alone.

But Samara is still one of horror's great villains, and the iconic vision of Samara emerging from the well will be scaring the shit out of new viewers for years to come.

(However, I still say she wouldn't have been as scary if they'd have buzzed off all that stringy black hair plastered to her face. Gah!)

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Tash said...

Awesome post! I learned something the other day - I'd always wondered why all j-horror ghosts look the same - girl in white with hair over her face. It turns out that the whole concept of ghosts is totally different in Asia than it is in America. I wrote a post about it a while ago if you're interested: http://zomb1etron.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/things-i-dont-know-about-1/

Bitter Clevelander said...

Outstanding post! There's funny/scary ("Drag Me To Hell"), drama/scary ("What Lies Beneath"), and then there's flat-out, no-nonsense, terrifying scary. "The Ring" falls into the last category, and in my humble opinion, is the scariest movie of the past couple of decades. I watched it some five years ago, and to this day, Samara still scares the living shite out of me.

Anonymous said...

Just came across this 6 years later. Good read. Our daughters name is Samara, inspired by the only horror movie my wife enjoys. Still love this movie. Not scary but creepy. Sinister may be the only horror movie I've enjoyed more in all the years since this came out.