Of Horse Blood and TV Snow: Abhuman Reproduction in The Ring
Images have become lethal, integrated into the organic structure of the body. In the opening scene of Gore Verbinski’s 2002 horror film, The Ring, two teenagers alone in a house are staring at the TV. Becca says to her friend Katie, “Have you heard about this videotape that kills you when you watch it? You start playing it and it’s like somebody’s nightmare.” And she is right; anyone who watches the videotape dies in “seven days.” The question, of course, is whose nightmare is it? The first three images on this videotape seem to provide a clue: 1) “The Ring,” a circle of light-a penumbra of a full eclipse; 2) the static freeplay of TV snow; 3) horse blood churning darkly in roiling water. The horse blood prefigures a scene at the film’s center in which a horse gets caught in the propellers of a Seattle ferry after jumping in a fit of madness from its deck. And an image-fragment of this same horse-a close-up of its black, horrified eye reflecting the light slats of its enclosure-closes the film, indeed is the very last frame before the credits roll.