Fictional character biography
Samara was born in 1970 to a woman named Evelyn (last name unknown) and an unnamed father, who is rumored to have been some form of demon and the genetic origin to Samara's supernatural powers. At the time of labor, Evelyn was only 8 months pregnant, and she found that her newborn infant would not cry. She would soon attempt to drown Samara in a pond, telling the nuns who ran the hospital that her daughter had told her to do this as she had been born with a demon inside of her - whether this was from Evelyn's own psychosis or if Samara's powers had somehow granted her the ability to telepathically inform her mother of this is unknown. Either way, Evelyn did not succeed in her endeavor and the nuns had her institutionalized.
Samara was placed up for adoption and was eventually taken in by Anna and Richard Morgan, who inhabited a horse ranch on Moesko Island. Although initially everything seemed fine, as time progressed her powers grew and grew, unintentionally frightening her adoptive parents by burning images into their minds. They were sent to Eola County Psychiatric Hospital for treatment, with Anna being treated for depression and suicidal thoughts. Samara on the other hand was treated differently, instead being examined for hours on end, as if the doctors were fascinated by her or had some knowledge of her abilities. She would come to display said powers, known as nensha powers, in their presence, burning images onto transparent materials, including film. When Dr. Scott attempted to interview her during these sessions, she informed him that she knew her adoptive father planned on leaving her there; however this was not the actual case, as Richard would eventually have them both discharged to return to the ranch. Dr. Scott would soon thereafter die of mysterious circumstances, presumably becoming Samara's first victim.
Richard, despite having Samara released, had actually intended to take matters into his own hands and prevent her from harming anybody. For these reasons he moved her into their barn, where he turned the hay storage area above into an isolated bedroom with a ladder as its only means of access. Though she was essentially abandoned here, he did leave her a television to hopefully keep her busy. She used her powers during this time to burn the image of a tree into the wall behind the wallpaper. Even away from other humans she would cause trouble: At one point the 27 horses below her in the barn woke her up late at night and in a fit of anger she used her nensha powers to drive them insane, leading to them committing suicide by running off the cliffside, drowning in the ocean below. This was not kept a secret and the local newspaper wrote about the incident, referring to it as an epidemic. Anna, who loved her horses dearly, became inconsolable and had to return to the hospital for several days. Following this event, the ranch was placed under quarantine for five weeks, though the health officials were unable to find out the source of the horses' deaths, having no knowledge of Samara nor her powers (though they likely would have ignored this anyway as not being scientifically or logically feasible).
With Anna's release the family visited Shelter Mountain Inn with the hopes of escaping all of the chaos. Anna however had ulterior motives for going to the mountain retreat. She waited until Samara was near an old well on the property, where she was admiring the solitary tree on the hilltop, and at this point she approached her adoptive daughter. Here she suddenly produced a black plastic garbage bag and yanked it down over Samara's face, suffocating her with it before knocking her unconscious with a nearby stone. She apologized to Samara for what she felt she needed to do and then tossed her over into the well. The water caused Samara to recover quickly and she was able to watch as Anna sealed the well shut with its lid.
At this point Anna and Richard returned home; while it is not known if Richard knew of Anna's devious plot, the fact that he drove off without Samara there with them is telling. Upon returning home, Anna walked to the cliff and jumped, killing herself in the same manner that her beloved horses had done so just weeks earlier. With both Samara gone and Anna deceased, the remaining horses seemed to recover. However, Richard was now grief-stricken and chose to stop breeding them.
Samara was not dead. She spent the next week attempting in vain to escape the well, but never succeeded in doing so. Exhausted, she drown on the seventh day. Her spirit lingered on, seemingly longing for help and attention. Eventually a set of rental cabins were built on the spot and in Cabin 12 a television and VCR set were placed (it can be presumed that they were placed in the other cabins as well). Samara's ghostly presence was still able to utilize her nensha powers, likely now to an even greater extent, and she managed to etch both her abilities and likely her spirit as well onto a single blank video cassette tape, thus creating the cursed tape.
Thirty years after her untimely death, Samara's tape is finally noticed by a group of teenagers - Katie Embry, Josh Turandot, Stacey Miller, and Scott Conry - visiting the cabins up at Shelter Mountain Inn when the two boys attempt to record an American football game. Instead, the tape intrigued them and they watched it instead. Immediately after, the phone rang, informing them they had "seven days" before immediately hanging up and leaving them with more questions than answers. As they were the first victims, they could have had no idea that they needed to forward the tape to others to stop the curse that they equally were initially clueless about. Because of this, none of the four teenagers would still be alive the following week. Katie would be the first victim of the tape, being personally killed by Samara's ghost, while Stacey and Scott were slain in a car crash related to seeing her. Josh on the other hand committed suicide by jumping off a seven-story building, either out of fear or due to influence by Samara as she had done to the horses many years prior.
The curse would continue when Katie's aunt Rachel Clay, a police investigator, is given the tape which she, too, watches. Like before, she receives a message that she has seven days before the paranormal phone call hangs up on her. She soon fails to stop either her husband Noah Clay or their son Aidan from watching the tape as well. During the 7 day period of the curse, Samara appeared to Rachel in a dream (touching her and leaving burn marks on her forearm in said dream) while harassing Noah far more, visiting him repeatedly and showing him images of her life; eventually she would touch him which would leave his hand burnt. This injury led to Noah coming to the conclusion that the terror would never end unless her body was freed from its imprisonment. He believes that it can only get worse from here.
Hoping to find out what is going on, Rachel takes a trip to Moesto Island to visit Richard at his ranch, but her digging up the past is too much for him and he commits suicide via electrocution in a bathtub. Discovering and subsequently searching the little girl's former isolated bedroom, they find the burnt in image of the tree. Soon thereafter, Rachel's investigative abilities lead her back to Cabin 12 on Shelter Mountain, where she discovers the well under its floorboards. Investigating further, she is knocked into it when the television inexplicably rolls into her. Down in the well she encounters Samara's now-skeletal remains, greatly frightening her and sending her through a flashback via Samara where she views Samara's death. Somehow she manages to escape the well and the authorities are called, who remove Samara's body.
Despite what Noah believed, they soon discover that finding her body is not enough for the vengeful Onryō, who apparently wants the curse to continue so that the rest of the world may know her pain. Samara skips over Rachel, who had inadvertently shown others the tape, and suddenly appears to Noah, whose time is up. Climbing out of the television she pursues him in his own studio apartment at a glacial pace, and in fear he accidentally falls over and injures himself, preventing his escape. Samara moves close to him and reveals her true face, frightening him to death. Rachel, fearing the worst goes and discovers Noah's corpse and in a maddened rage physically destroys the original tape before burning it as well, hoping to end the curse then and there. However, as she calms down her clouded mind remembers that she had already made a copy of the tape, and so to save her son at the expense of others she helps him to copy it to send to others.
Don't Watch This
With the tape copied over successfully, Rachel travels to a video store in an undisclosed location - judging by the store's layout and overall design, it is a Blockbuster Video. Although she manages to rent two children's VHSes that the clerk assumes are to give herself a few hours of "me time", it is in actuality a front. Instead, she has used the time there to secretly slide the newly copied tape with Samara on it into the Employee's Choice section of the store, hoping someone will quickly pick it up. Strangely, she does not stick it in a case in an attempt to 'trick' a customer into renting the wrong video.
- Interestingly, before Katie is killed in The Ring, her friend Becca makes mention of the tape; this may mean that the tape had somehow already become urban legend but likely simply means that Katie had talked a lot about it leading up to her death.
- Onryō, or vengeful spirit, the specific type of ghost that Samara is.
Several very similar Onryō characters exist in media, such as:
- Sadako Yamamura, the template for Samara
- Alma Wade, a similar character in the F.E.A.R series
- Kayako Saeki, from Ju-On and The Grudge
- S-Ko, one of the primary ghosts possessing Zappa in the Guilty Gear fighting game series
- Tabitha, a parody of Samara from Scary Movie 3