Dark Water (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/06/2003

Three out of Five stars

Japanese horror film, in which a disturbed young woman and her daughter are haunted by the ghost of a girl who disappeared in their apartment block.

Japanese horror films seem to be very much in vogue at the moment, although to many they remain something of an acquired taste, largely dependent on your tolerance for screechy music and long pauses, punctuated with something nasty. And more screechy music. However, if you’re a fan of Ring, then Dark Water (from Hideo Nakata, the same director) offers more of the same.

Hitomi Kuroki plays Yoshimi (sadly no Pink Robots in sight) Matsubara, a disturbed young woman going through a divorce and fighting for custody of her young daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). They move into a dilapidated apartment building, despite the ominous damp patches on the ceiling.

Weird Happenings

However, before long, Weird Things start to happen and it quickly becomes clear that the apartment might not be the best place to live, mental-health-wise. (Though in true horror-movie fashion, of course, they don’t move out – oh yes, the Americans don’t have the monopoly on Dumb Horror Movie Heroines, you know).

Some of the shocks and ‘weird happenings’ are more effective than others. For example, Yoshimi keeps finding a red child’s bag full of toys and each time she throws it out it –woooooo- re-appears. However, a scene where the taps suddenly spit out long strands of black hair is extremely nasty.

Rising Damp

It turns out that a young girl disappeared in the apartment two years previously and the Very Large Water Tank on the roof may have something to do with it. Similarly, Yoshimi becomes increasingly worried that her daughter might be becoming possessed by the dead girl. And then their damp problem takes a turn for the worse…

The film is extremely atmospheric, thanks to great set design work – the apartment is genuinely creepy, particularly when the (titular) dark, nasty water starts dripping. The soundtrack plays a large part in this too, using echoing ‘water’ type noises, constant drips and ghostly footsteps as well as the overly-familiar Screechy Music.

True Horror

As with Ring, Nakata saves his moments of true horror for the final reel and when they come, they don’t disappoint – the imagery is particularly impressive, too, with one scene in particular constituting the equivalent of a horror movie ‘money shot’.

However, the film has its annoying side too – Yoshimi is much too WET (pun a happy coincidence) a character to be really engaging or sympathetic and there are some Unintentional Comedy Pauses which seem out of place.

In short, Dark Water is worth seeing if you like that sort of thing and provides a few decent shocks.

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Content updated: 24/10/2014 19:00

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