Samara Morgan is the central antagonist of The Ring franchise, the American remake of the Japanese psychological horror franchise Ringu. Like Sadako Yamamura, Samara is a young girl who possesses powerful psychic abilities. However, her abilities unintentionally torment and even kill those around her, leading her parents to have no choice but to kill her by throwing her into a nearby well. Samara survived in the well for seven days until her eventual death. Returning to the world as a vengeful ghost, Samara created a cursed videotape that vowed to kill anyone who watched it after seven days. Even though it appears that her main goal is to inflict suffering upon humanity through her cursed videotape, she seeks for a mother (even though her previous mothers tried to kill her) to care for her via being reborn.
She wears a white oversized dress and black shoes. Samara appears quite pale and rarely talks. In her cursed form, Samara's appearance resembles a Japanese onryō spirit, a spirit focused on vengeance. Her hair now appears black and is soaking wet, hiding her waterlogged and deformed face which has turned somewhat grey in colour and she has sunken, nearly colorless eyes. Her skin has become an unnatural moldy colour, although when she climbs out of a television, her skin appears a murky grey. Her white dress becomes tattered and soaked with water, turning it brownish-yellow and grey. She goes barefoot, and has no
nails on her hands from attempts to climb out of the well. Samara is shown to be a victim seeking some form of attention, particularly after her death and the creation of the video tape, so the world can know of her pain and suffering. She is very otherworldly, hardly talking and being antisocial, and spends hours on end standing around and staring at items of interest without moving.
Samara has a number of supernatural abilities, although most do not appear until she becomes a spirit. Her signature ability is Nensha, also known as thoughtography, projected thermography and psychic photography. Samara sees various images in her mind and can project or burn them onto objects like walls or paper. Sometimes they are perfectly burnt onto objects that cannot be damaged so easily. It seems that Samara has no proper control over the images, but can rather aim or focus them. She can project the images into a person's mind, causing them great pain and torment, although it was at first an accident when around the Morgans. When her psychiatrist says that Samara doesn't want to hurt anyone, she disagrees and says that she does, indicating a sadistic nature. Samara later used her nensha powers to drive the ranch's horses to insanity and eventually suicide when she realised that her parents loved the horses more than herself.
She most notably created the video tape using images and memories she had experienced. As a wraith, she could use nensha on those who watched the tape to experience flashbacks into her life and even see her in dreams. She can also physically harm people by leaving burn marks on their bodies, but they can vanish over time. The curse of the video tape makes supernatural experiences happen to the victims based on Samara's own experiences.
As a spirit she wanted to kill everyone, Samara gains more abilities. Her spiritual presence seems to terrify animals like horses or deer, causing them to panic or attack the victims of the tape or people related to Samara, although it may be an extension of her nensha ability. How she killed Katie Embry and her friends and indeed all her victims remains unknown as her method of killing is never shown. It seems she kills victims by scaring them to death by revealing her distorted face. How her victims faces become rotten and disfigured is also unknown. It is possible that making eye-contact with Samara causes the victims to die and have their face warped. After the seven day deadline, Samara can invade a television set and emerge from the well in the tape's inner world and displays the ability to defy the laws of physics to crawl her way out of the television into the real world, but remains as a flickering, distorted figure like the video tape's quality. In Rings, victim Jake attempts to escape Samara by breaking his television screen but she manages to escape and attempts to attack him by emerging through the screen on his video camera, hinting that she can emerge from other electrical sources.
It has been questioned by fans how did Samara kill Katie's other friends when two of them were driving in a car and the other was on a rooftop and supposedly jumped off, although it is possible she can appear via water or maybe caused some sort of event that caused the group to die. Numerous questions have been asked how she appears if the victim is not anywhere near a television.
Despite displaying a fear of water, Samara has control over it, capable of manipulating it to her desires. She can cause a bathtub of water to empty its supply up onto the ceiling, and displays a tendency to use water to scare a person, usually in the form of growing puddles of water that creep after victims. Samara can turn on televisions and electrical appliances, usually to escape out of them or use them to display her images. She can also use telephones to contact a person after they've watched a video. She even leaves an answer message on Rachel's telephone, directed at Noah.
In The Ring Two, Samara possesses Aidan Keller's body to a degree, capable of subjugating his conscience and taking over, although Aidan appears still in control in dreams. However, Samara has little idea of how to pretend to be Aidan and easily makes it clear that she is in control. She is exorcised from Aidan's body by Rachel when she submerges Aidan in water, causing Samara to flee into a television. When trapped in the well by Rachel, Samara displays inhuman movements and "spider-walks" her way up the well walls.
Samara was born to a woman named Evelyn in 1970. Her father was a priest named Burke from a small town named Sacrament Valley, Washington. Evelyn was kept in a hidden chamber beneath a bell tower after being raped by Burke but was eventually freed and went to a hospital run by nuns eight months pregnant. She gave birth to Samara but found that her baby would not cry. Samara apparently told her that a demon was born inside her and the only way to be rid of it was to drown her in a pond outside. Whether or not this was Evelyn's own psyche or Samara's powers telling her to do this remains unknown. A nun spotted Evelyn attempting to drown Samara and led a group of nuns to stop her. Samara was put up for adoption whilst Evelyn was sent to an asylum.
Samara was eventually adopted by Anna and Richard Morgan and taken to live on their horse ranch on Moesko Island. However, as she grew older, Samara's powers began to develop and grow, unintentionally frightening her parents by burning images into their minds. The island's doctor sent them to Eola County Psychiatric Hospital for treatment. Anna was treated for depression and suicidal thoughts, whilst Samara was treated differently, examined and observed for hours on end. She displayed her nensha powers by burning images on transparency materials and film. Doctor Scott interviewed Samara who responded that Richard planned to leave her in the hospital. Doctor Scott eventually died, likely killed by Samara's powers. On the contrary, Richard eventually had Anna and Samara discharged and took them back to the ranch.
To prevent Samara from harming anyone, Richard moved her into the ranch's barn, turning the top floor into her isolated bedroom with a ladder as the only means of access. Left alone, Samara had only a television set for company. She also burnt an image of a tree onto a wall, hidden behind wallpaper. Samara was awoken at night by the ranch horses. Out of anger and jealousy, Samara mentally attacked the horses with her nensha powers. The horses went insane and committed suicide by running towards the ocean, drowning themselves. At least twenty-seven horses died, and the newspapers called it an epidemic. Anna was heavily affected by the deaths and was sent back to the hospital for several days. The ranch was quarantined for five weeks by health experts but they could not find any source of the deaths, unaware of Samara's presence.
Anna was released from the hospital five days later. To escape the chaos, the family visited Shelter Mountain Inn. Anna revealed ulterior motives for going to the mountain. One sunny day, Samara stood before an old stone well admiring a tree on a hilltop when Anna appeared behind her, commenting on how peaceful the place was. She suddenly produced a black plastic garbage bag and suffocated Samara; she then grabbed a rock loose from the well and bashed her head with it. Apologising to Samara, Anna pushed her down into the well. Recovering quickly, Samara awoke to witness Anna sealing her in the well. It is unknown if Richard was aware that Anna planned to kill Samara. After the Morgans returned to the ranch, Anna committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. The horses later seemed to recover, but Richard eventually stopped breeding them.
Samara spent the next seven days trying to escape the well by scaling the walls, only to fail and break off her nails and fingertips in the process. She eventually drowned on the seventh day. However, her spirit lingered on, longing for help and attention. A set of rental cabins were built around the area, Cabin 12 built on top of the well. With a television and a VCR set placed right above the well, Samara managed to transfer her nensha abilities and likely her own spirit into a blank video cassette, creating the curse of the video tape.
Almost thirty years later, Samara's video tape is eventually found by four teenagers who visited Shelter Mountain Inn - Katie Embry, Josh Turandot, Stacey Miller, and Scott Convoy. In an attempt to record a football game, they instead find and watch the video and are told by Samara through the telephone that they would die seven days later. Unaware that they have to copy the tape to survive, the four eventually die in a week exactly 7 days later at the exact time they watched the tape: 10:00 p.m. Samara personally kills Katie, making her the first victim of the video, while Stacey and Scott die in a car crash. Josh supposedly jumps off a seven-story building, possibly influenced by Samara in a similar fashion to the horses. *It should be noted that Katie's friend, Becca, mentions the tape before Katie tells her that she has seen it, suggesting that the tape has already become a sort of urban legend, and therefore Katie and her friends are very unlikely to be victims of the alleged tape*
At Katie's funeral, Ruthie, Katie's mother, begs her sister, Rachel, to find out what really killed Katie, saying that it is Rachel's job, as a journalist, to investigate things, to "ask questions." During the evening of the wake event following Katie's funeral, Rachel goes upstairs to find her son, Aidan, in Katie's bedroom. Aidan makes a comment that it "isn't her room anymore." Rachel begins to filter through some of Katie's belongings, finding a receipt for the film for the pictures taken while katie and her friends visited Shelter Mountain Inn. Rachel also notices that all of the faces on Katie's drawings, photos and magazines have been scribbled out in black ink.
IN an attempt to assist her sister in finding out what really happened the night of Katie's death, Rachel uses the receipt to pick up the film Katie had dropped off to be developed, and sees that all of the faces in the photos are blurred in the last photo, taken the morning after their stay at the inn after viewing the tape. Rachel then travels to Shelter Mountain Inn and requests cabin 12, the same cabin Katie and her friends stayed. The tape is found by Rachel at Shelter Mountain Inn on the free video library at the inn's office. She covertly places the odd looking, black video cassette in her bag and later watches the video in full. Immediately after viewing, the landline phone rings in the cabin and Rachel reluctantly answers. "Seven days," is what Rachel hears on the other end of the line, in a child's whisper. Scared and startled, Rachel ventures outside and looks about the grounds for the culprit or joker. To her chagrin, no one is around and she realizes she is all alone in the quickly fading light of dusk.
Rachel, Noah and their son Aidan all watch the tape and work together to track down the source of the video, discovering it was made by Samara after she was pushed into a well by her mother, Anna Morgan. Samara herself appears to Rachel in a dream and visits Aidan off-screen repeatedly, showing him images of her life and eventually harming him by burning her hand into his arm like she did Rachel's in the dream. This leads Aidan to realise that her cycle of terror would never end, and that if her body was ever freed from the well, it would only become worse. He later told his mother this, but by then she had already freed her.
Rachel visits Richard Morgan, Samara's father, on the ranch but his memories of Samara's images eventually leads him to killing himself via electrocution. Before he dies, he tells Rachel that he never wanted a daughter. Rachel and Noah search for Samara's room and find the image of Shelter Mountain Inn tree burned into one of her walls. Returning to Shelter Mountain, the two find the well under Cabin 12. Rachel is knocked into the well by the cabin's television and finds Samara's skeletal remains. Rachel has a flashback of Samara being dropped down the well by Anna, and her body is later taken away by the authorities.
However, the release of her body is not enough for Samara. Still wanting the world to know of her pain, Samara continues the curse. Samara appears on Noah's television, now a haunting spectre, and climbs out of his television and onto the floor. Frightened, Noah tries to flee, but falls over and injures himself. Samara walks over to him and reveals her deformed face, terrifying him to death. Rachel finds Noah's body, and in a maddened rage she destroys the original tape and burns it. However, realising that she survived by copying the tape and showing it to Noah, Rachel helps Aidan copy the video to save him. When Aidan asks Rachel who they are going to show the copied video to, Rachel doesn't respond and the movie ends.
In the short film Rings, the cursed video tape has spread across America and perhaps the world as a cult, with groups of teenagers called "Rings" each watching the tape, recording what they see and putting it on a website, and if they panic they can hand the tape over to the next person in the ring. This allows Samara's goal to get attention to work but no one who watches the video understands what is happening, and their goal is to see if anyone can make it past the seventh day, despite being aware of the death penalty that awaits them.
Samara appears only in glimpses throughout the short, stalking victim Jake and others who survived or have yet to watch the tape. In a dream sequence, when Jake's seven day deadline ends, Samara attempts to materialise into Jake's house through his television. Jake breaks the glass of the television, but Samara still manages to appear before him. Jake uses a video camera to record her, but she punches through the video camera's screen to get to him. It turns out to be a dream and Jake contacts his friend Emily so she can watch the tape.
The Ring TwoEdit
The Ring Two continues straight on from Rings, with Jake trying to show Emily the tape and retreating into his kitchen as Emily watches the tape. However, upon seeing water stream into the kitchen, he runs back into the living room to find that Emily covered her eyes. Jake collapses before the television set as Samara emerges to kill him.
Rachel, who moved to Astoria with Aidan, finds his body in the back of an ambulance and is horrified by his deformed appearance. As she tries to zip up the bodybag he is in, Samara is actually the one all up in the bodybag, proclaiming that she has found Rachel, while revealing she always planned to haunt her, wanting to make Rachel her new mother due to her apparent caring nature towards her (she needed rachel as a motherly figure seeing as rachel really cared about the video but only for her sister). Rachel locates the copied tape in Jake's house and destroys it. Afterwards, Samara tracks down Rachel's new home and disturbs Aidan as she appears in his television and attempts to drag him into the tape world, although this turns out to be a dream or a nensha vision. Yet there is a chance that the so called "dream" was actually real, yet filmed to make seem like a dream, or perhaps an illusion. In the movie as Aidan awakens from his nightmare of getting pulled into the tape world, it's possible that he was already possessed by Samara. The proof would be the sudden defensive reaction to Rachel's inquiry of his dream, and the wet ring left on the bed spread. The next day, Rachel and Aidan visit a fair, but Samara stalks Aidan, alerting some nearby deer to her presence. In a public toilet, Aidan grows suspicious and takes photos of himself in a mirror, the photos later revealing that Samara was behind him and entered his body. This causes Aidan to develop symptoms of hypothermia, reflecting on Samara's time spent in the well. Samara's presence causes Rachel to see Aidan as the girl, Samara using her powers to burn a giant tree image into the wall and ceiling of Aidan's room. Journalist Max Rourke becomes involved and learns of Samara's existence, although he is sceptical. Aidan is placed in a bath, but Samara attempts to fully take control of his body, causing the water in the bath to levitate into the air. Rachel saves Aidan after attempting to drown Samara, although Max sees her trying to drown Aidan. Max forces Rachel to hospitalise Aidan under the care of Doctor Emma Temple. Rachel investigates Samara's origins, meeting Evelyn who cryptically tells her that Samara must be imprisoned again. Aidan falls unconscious, allowing Samara to take control, quite obsessive with finding her "mommy". She influences Doctor Temple to kill herself with an injection of air and leaves the hospital, eventually wandering to Aidan's house. Max arrives and attempts to take a photo of Samara, but she catches on and kills him, somehow distorting his face without the use of the tape although the curse could extend from her own will. Rachel returns, finds Max dead in his truck and realises Samara has possessed Aidan. In a dream, Aidan tells Rachel that Samara must be removed.
Playing along with Samara, Rachel drugs her into unconsciousness. Taking Aidan to the bath, Aidan regains consciousness and agrees to go along with the brief submersion. A frightened Samara panics and is forced to leave Aidan's body, appearing in a watery apparition and sadly glares at Rachel before vanishing. Aidan survives, but Samara materialises in the television, and attempts to materialise in a second attempt to possess Aidan. However, Rachel approaches the television as Samara emerges and offers herself as a mother in place of Aidan. Samara silently agrees and pulls Rachel into the tape world and into the well. Seeing that well's lid has been removed due to being in the tape world, Rachel begins to climb out of the well. Rachel softly mentions that the lid is always open, implying that Samara may have always been able to escape from the well. Alarmed to Rachel's quick progression, Samara emerges from the water at the well's bottom and displays her true inhuman side, scaling the wall in an inhuman, spider-like fashion and quickly catches up to Rachel as she reaches the top. Rachel knocks out a stone in the well causing water to gush out and knock Samara to the bottom of the well. Rachel manages to climb out of the well as Samara angrily bursts out of the water and scales the wall again. Rachel begins to cover the well again like Anna did, but a distraught Samara calls out "Mommy!" in a demonic voice. Rachel angrily responds that she is not her mother and covers the well, imprisoning Samara like Anna did. Rachel then escapes the tape world by following Aidan's voice and falls off a cliff into the ocean below, guided by a vision of Anna's suicide. Samara appears to be permanently trapped, although if the Rings cult has numerous copies of the tape and a person does not show a copy to someone else before the end of the seven days, than Samara has a chance to escape.
Samara has appeared outside The Ring franchise. She has been parodied in Scary Movie 3 and Robot Chicken. In Scary Movie 3, which mostly parodies The Ring, Samara appears as a girl named Tabitha who is thrown into a well and makes a cursed videotape, often mistaken for a sex tape by other characters. In one scene, Tabitha emerges from a television set and gets into a comical physical fight with Regina Hall's character. Tabitha is played by Marny Eng.
Samara is also parodied in Robot Chicken. In the sketch, a man is watching videos for potential dates and finds the cursed videotape. Samara comes out of the television but suddenly speaks and comments that she likes "trees, dolls, and ponies". Here, she is voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar who starred as Karen Davis in the American remake of The Grudge alongside Amber Tamblyn who plays Katie Embry in The Ring and Aubrey Davis in The Grudge 2.
Additionally, Samara is one of the main characters in the popular webcomic Erma by Brandon Santiago, where she is the mother of a zombie girl named Erma, a little girl with the ability to climb walls, change forms, raise the dead, and perform additional otherworldly feats. Her goal is to scare people, but ultimately she wants to be loved and accepted. The webcomic began in August of 2014 and runs weekly to the present day.
- Samara's two portrayers, Daveigh Chase and Kelly Stables, are also both known voice actresses. Daveigh Chase voiced Lilo in Disney's Lilo & Stitch and Chihiro in Spirited Away, and Kelly Stables voiced Will Vandom in W.I.T.C.H.. Stables also did stunt work on the first film.
- Academy Award-winning makeup designer Rick Baker worked on Samara's physical appearance in all three films.
- Samara bears a similiar appearance and characteristics to Alma Wade from the F.E.A.R video game series. Both are powerful psychics who use their powers to kill and haunt their victims. They both have long black hair which usually cascades over their face.
- Samara's first name means "protected by God", possibly a nod to her mysterious, supernatural father. Her last name Morgan means bright sea dweller and (almost) morning in German.
- Samara's Japanese counterpart is Sadako Yamamura from Ringu.
- When filming the scene where Samara walks towards the TV to kill Noah Clay, the producers filmed Daveigh Chase walking backwards then reversed the shot in order to create the creepy walk.