Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade, Dougray Scott, Pete
Postlethwaite, Tim Roth, John C. Reilly
Based on the original Japanese film, which is based on a
short story by Koji Suzuki (Ring, Spiral), Dark Water
follows a growing crop of oriental horror being brought over
to North America (following in the footsteps of The
Ring and The Grudge). Not straying too far from
the Japanese film in premise, the story begins with Jennifer
Connelly looking for a place to live in with her daughter
after her divorce from her husband (Dougray Scott). They manage
to get a rent controlled apartment in a building that's obviously
in need of some work. As the steady downpour of rain goes
down outside, a leak develops in the ceiling of her bedroom
that is only that beginning of something more ominous.
As the film progresses, she's forced into annoying powerplay
struggles between the superintendent (Reilly) and the handyman
(Postlethwaite) over getting her plumbing fixed and the annoyance
that her ex-husband is forcing her through during a custody
battle. Along with the constant bother of the neighborhood
skater punks, she's pushed to the point of paranoia, which
isn't helped by her migraines and the worsening situation
in the apartment building.
Dark Water is filmed with great care. There's a certain
morbid darkness to the movie. Every scene feels like it's
been soaking in stale puddles for far too long. Characters
noticeable show signs of wear and tear on their physical beings.
Connelly's severe migraines are so noticeable on her mannerisms
that one can only feel sympathy for her. Both the direction
and cinematography are done exceptionally, providing a film
that's executed well at its core.
But, where the film fails to do what's needed is in both
pacing and delivery. The movie is slow as hell. Ridiculously
slow. In fact, it spends so much time on the build up that
it ceases to be a horror film and begins to be a mystery/drama
with a supernatural bent. The funny thing is, though, that
this is more in line with the way Koji Suzuki wrote the original
tale. Too bad Dark Water is being promoted as a horror
film as except for a few cheap scares, it never really delivers
I have to give at least a little credit to the director for
not trying to take the easy route and making the ghost girl
patterned after Samara (The Ring). Instead, she comes
across as a misguided soul in dire need of some parental attention.
The fact that she appears as a real human in every scene both
grounds her to the story and also takes away some of her horror.
If you want to see a ghost-oriented drama, then Dark Water
may interest you. Don't be fooled into thinking that you'll
be seeing a lot of intense horror action. Dark Water
is obviously more about the people than the haunting itself.