Dark Water
Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, Tim Roth, John C. Reilly
Directed By:
Walter Salles

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 anything terrifying.

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.

- - Kinderfeld

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