Alfred Hitchcock once said, “The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them” (Alfred Hitchcock Quotes). I do not make horror films, but I do watch them. Similar to Hitchcock, they help me face my fears. Do you associate horror films with your fears? My biggest fears are demonophobia, which is the fear of evil spirits, and taphephobia, which is the fear of being buried alive (Phobia Lists). These phobias most certainly helped in my decision to compare and contrast the horror movies The Exorcist and The Ring, in my opinion, the two scariest movies of all time.
The Exorcist and The Ring share a similarity; they both have an evil spirit working to create terror; however, they used completely different mediums to make contact with our world: a human body and technology – a television. First, let us take a look at what I see as the number one similarity between The Exorcist and The Ring.
Both films have evil entities that used their powers to create horror and death. In The Exorcist, the demon, who claims to be Satan, has possessed a young girl (Regan McNeil) and is slowly killing her by causing great fear and anguish in Regan’s soul (The Exorcist).
In The Ring, the spirit of a young girl (Samara Morgan) is using her power, derived from a great lust for revenge, to scare and eventually take the life of a young journalist (Rachel Keller) who was assigned to investigate some unexplained deaths that seem to occur one week after the victim views a mysterious videotape (The Ring).
Both evil beings wish to show the power they have over their victims. Furthermore, The Exorcist and The Ring share a similar ending.
In both films, the evil spirits, having been thwarted in their goals to destroy their victims, survive to fight another day. In The Exorcist, the demon enters the body of the priest who saved Regan through the exorcism he performed. He tried to commit suicide by throwing himself out of a second story window in an attempt to destroy the beast. Unfortunately, the demon is able to sustain his possession of the priest’s body and survives by keeping the priest from death, but that is another story.
In the same manner, Samara is also stopped before she can kill Rachel. Sadly, Rachel discovered that there is no way to put an end to Samara’s terror. The only thing she can do is push off Samara’s vengeance onto someone else. She accomplished this by making a copy of the videotape then tricked someone else into watching it before the end of the seven days. Even though the two spirits are looking to accomplish the same results, they are going about it in different manners.
The demon in The Exorcist means to kill Regan by slowly causing her body to wither away, keeping her in its grasps of fear and pain. You see her begin to transform from a beautiful young girl to a hideous monster, unrecognizable by the end of the film. Samara reaches her ultimate goal by announcing her victim’s doom, via a telephone, seven days prior to their death causing them to stress for an entire week believing that there is nothing they can do to stop it; death is inevitable.
On the seventh day she appears to her victim, using the person’s television as a conduit for her rage, leaving nothing but a shriveled dead corpse. The evil in each film is presumed to have come from the netherworld. The difference between the two is Pazuzu, the evil that possessed Regan, is believed to have existed since the time before Christ – an evil of ancient time and servant of the devil (Bronze head of Pazuzu). On the other hand, Samara, the vengeful evil spirit, was created from an innocent young girl when her mother tried to kill her.
Samara’s mother pushed her into a well then covered the opening believing that her daughter was dead; on the contrary, Samara was still alive. She regained consciousness just in time to see her mother position a large round stone over the well opening creating a ring of light from the small amount of sunlight that entered passed the edges of the stone. For seven days she suffered a slow painful death sending her soul into the afterlife in a heated rage starved for revenge for what her mother had done.
In the end, these two films give the audience a sense of realism in what are supposed to be fiction based movies. Nevertheless, associating evil with a believable occurrence, like the discovery of artifacts in Iraq, or a mother murdering her daughter and burying her alive, creates the allusion that everything you are seeing is possible. These two films rank number one and number two in my list of the scariest movies ever; they are two films that I would recommend to all horror lovers.
“Alfred Hitchcock Quotes.” Brainy Quotes. (n.d.). http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ quotes/a/alfredhitc158333.html
“Phobia List.” Fear into Freedom. (n.d.).