The Ring | 2002
A creditable remake of the Japanese Ringu, more comprehensible or less mysterious? It’s up to you. Already the concept of a VHS tape that kills whoever watches it makes the film a period piece. Never mind, I expect somebody is already pitching a reboot featuring a downloadable curse.
The US location was to have been Boston, but the dank mistiness of the Pacific Northwest, in Washington State and Oregon, couldn’t have been better. Interiors were filmed in the studio in sunny old Los Angeles so, as usual, it was convenient to use a few locations in California.
In fact, the very first location is in midtown Los Angeles, as Katie (Amber Tamblyn) admits to her friend Becca (Rachael Bella) that she’s already seen the sinister tape. Katie’s house is 413 South McCadden Place at West 4th Street in Hancock Park. A creepy locale – it’s only a couple of blocks south of the home of the Hudson sisters’ in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?
It’s off to the real Seattle, though, to find the home of Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) and her son Aidan, which is the Harbor Steps Apartments, 1200 Western Avenue at Seneca Street in the city’s Central Business District.
A few blocks north toward Belltown, Rachel picks up Katie’s processed photographs from 1923 Fifth Avenue, at Stewart Street, beneath the Seattle Monorail. The address on the stub is ‘1925 Fifth Avenue’ but no matter, this is the same building.
Rachel is used to this investigative stuff, working as a reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, although the newspaper’s office scenes were shot in LA. It seems the real P-I office was just not glum enough for the film’s claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s not that Seattle is so much sunnier than Southern California, but the Post-Intelligencer office apparently looks out over expansive views of Elliott Bay.
The ‘Shelter Mountain Inn’, to which Rachel traces the origin of the tape, is Camp Firwood, 4605 Cable Street, on the Lake Whatcom waterfront, southeast of Bellingham, way north toward Vancouver.
Not straying too far, Rachel researches lighthouses in the imposingly grand Hoose Library of the Mudd Hall of Philosophy, 3709 Trousdale Parkway, on the frequently-seen campus of USC (University of Southern California), south of downtown LA.
Accompanied by her friend Noah (Martin Henderson), Rachel follows the trail up to ‘Astoria’, driving across Deception Pass Bridge, at the northern tip of Whidbey Island. The ‘Quinault’ ferryboat, from which the crazed horse (don’t fret – it’s computer generated) leaps, is the Whidbey Island Ferry, linking Mukilteo, on the mainland, to Clinton.
To see the mysterious ‘Moesko Island Lighthouse’, you’ll need to travel south, to Newport on the coast of Oregon. It’s the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River a mile west of Agate Beach, off US101. It’s still a functioning lighthouse, and there are daily tours.
The ‘Morgan Ranch’, where Rachel confronts Richard Morgan (Brian Cox) and begins to uncover the mystery of the terrifying Samara, is Emerald Glen Farm, 23200 Yeager Road, in Monroe on Highway 2, northeast of Seattle.
• Many thanks to Russell Evans for help with this section.