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Dark Water (2005)

  Directed by: Walter Salles
Written by: Takashige Ichise, Hideo Nakata, Kôji Suzuki, Rafael Yglesias
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade, Pete Postlethwaite, John C. Reilly, Dougray Scott
Links: Dark Water on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Tepid" - a review by andy-j

Recently-separated Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) is trying to make a new life for herself and her six year-old daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade). She has to settle for a run-down little high-rise apartment, which leaks dark water from the roof. Despite the best efforts of the caretaker (Pete Postlethwaite) and owner (John C. Reilly), the leaks just keep returning. Meanwhile, Dahlia starts hearing the voice of a little girl, and Ceci suddenly makes an imaginary friend called Natasha. Is this a result of trauma from the move to a new place, or is Natasha more than a figment of Ceci's imagination? Maybe the voice that Dahlia is hearing is really Natasha. Perhaps Dahlia is a little unstable from the break-up of her marriage. And that caretaker is a bit of a weirdo. Is he playing games? Maybe Dahlia's ex is meddling...

Dark Water is rather tepid. The plot unfolds slowly, and initially focuses on the daily struggles of Dahlia. I like this approach. We get a good sense of Dahlia's attempts to rebuild her life and see her close bond with her daughter. When strange things start to happen we are to entertain the thought that this mightn't even be a horror, because a logical explanation is presented, and everything else seems so normal. The problem is, for most of Dark Water's length, everything is just a little bit too normal. The shocks aren't shocking enough, and while I'm not one to go for cheapie shocks, Dark Water should have enough atmosphere to be able to pull them off effectively. The film needs a few good scares to break things up, and to assure the audience that it is actually going somewhere. While there are some, the scares need more impact, because there really isn't much else. At the end of the day, the plot feels under-developed and rather 'me too'. The pay-off is satisfactory, but it needs more oomph.

One look at this and you can pretty much instantly tell that Dark Water is a remake of a Japanese horror film (Dark Water (2002)). I don't doubt for a second that if it wasn't for the popularity of the very successful remake of writer Hideo Nakata's big hit Ring (1998), this remake would never have been made. I don't know what the original is like, but I would imagine it would be more effective in building up an atmosphere that would make it more unnerving, and the pay-off would have been handled more effectively. Dark Water has some atmosphere, but not quite enough. There are some dark, sinister shots, the apartment is shabby, the dark water filthy, and the neighbourhood drab and grey. There is also some very good acting which helps keep things entertaining enough. I especially liked Pete Postlethwaite, John C. Reilly, and Tim Roth, as Dahlia's lawyer. All play colourful characters and keep things moving forward.

Dark Water is worth seeing, but I don't think it achieved what it set out to achieve. It doesn't stack up to The Ring (2002) or The Grudge (2004), with no truly terrifying moments - which it desperately needs - to accompany the plot.

andy-j gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 30 Dec 2005

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Reader comments

  1. this movie confused me to no extent. i was hoping for more than that. it had build up so much curiosity but it was a major let down! a few somewhat scary moment, but nothing seriously disturbing enough to make an impact. i do not understand some of what went on at the end. who was the imaginary girl? was there something different about the daughter? and what about those photographs? how come they looked so similar to the daughter? and what is the connection between the mother and her mother abandoning her? please someone explain this

    Rating given: 1

    A comment from steff on Sun 12 Mar 2006 09:37 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 1.00 (1 rating)

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