Dark Water
Dir: Hideo Nakata
Star: Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Fumiyo Kohinata
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2002
Format: DVD R0

In the midst of a bitter seperation and custody battle, Yoshimi (Hitomi Kuroki) and her 6 year old daughter Ikuko (Rio Kanno) are forced to find new accomodation. As Yoshimi is looking for a job to support them, money is a bit tight, they decide to take a creepy apartment in a borderline dilapidated building. Undeterred by the general feeling of dread of the building they move in and then strange things start to happen. Locks of hair appear out of the taps, the discovery of a red schoolbag left behind by a mysterious young girl seems unimportant at first, until it keeps reappearing no matter how many times it is disposed of and damp patches appear onceilings and walls, constantly dripping and haunting the new tenants of the building. Then they begin to hear rumours of a little girl who used to live in the upstairs apartment but dissappeared mysteriously several years earlier....

Dark Water marks the eagerly awaited directorial return of Nakata, the man who chilled audiences around the world with the Ring (original Japanese film and not the diminished American remake!) After the phenomenal Ringu, all Eastern and many Western eyes had great expectations of his next project and this doesn't disappoint. Admittedly this isn't quite up to the same standard as Ring, but it is a well crafted and successfully disturbing film and bound to scare most of its audience witless. Nakata displays an obvious penchant for this type supernatural frightener and his strengths are evident here. There are a couple of interesting twists and the story isn't as straightforward as you first think. Added to which there are a couple of really good "jumpy" moments, nothing in your face or gory splatter hewn visuals but some genuinely creepy set pieces and very well directed moments. Subtle and eerie, this is a goody and highly likely to freak out any parent. Not outright scary or loaded with flash / bang scare factor, this is far more subtle film and preys psychologically upon the viewer and as such it is likely to play on your mind for a while afterwards..... Much like the original Ring in fact. If you want a Friday the 13th brand of slasher / gore from your horror movies then that is what you should watch and not this. Whereas if you like your Omen, Poltergeist or Ring movies then this is definitely one to see.

This is an impressive, eerie and creepy mixed bag of disturbing supernatural suspense. Freaky and chilling this is one "ghost story" for any horror fan to see, but not on your own. The next damp patch that you see on the ceiling is likely to fill you with dread after seeing this film, and ensure that you look harder next time youlook round an apartment. Despite this not being a fast paced or effect laden film it slowly applies the pressure and immerses you in the atmosphere, which is something that Nakata understands and does well. The film works very well and you often feel the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end and an involuntary shiver shoot down your spine. For any fan of the original Ring this is a must see, as it is imbued with much of the same style and atmosphere, but it does fall a little short in places when compared to it's predecessor. That same hazy and oppressive photographic style promotes a spooky and altogether un-nerving air to this piece, which also brings a similar edgy feel to the proceedings.

Usually, any film that involves children and horror is invariably either very tentative and unfulfilling or ballsy but excessive and too far over the top to be an effective chiller. This sort of psychological, supernatural horror is seldom done well and even rarer is it working well. But it has on occasion provided some unique and most unsettling pieces e.g.: Poltergeist and the original Ring. These taut and well thought out films each play on the child being a focus of the malevolent spirit(s) in one form or another and affords a disturbing aspect to their respective story's, where the "innocents" are at risk. Nakata and Suzuki obviously work well together, Nakata understands Suzuki's material and is able to translate it onto big screen as neat and satisfying horror. This is evidently a good partnership and it would be nice to see what else these two accomplish next.

Dark Water ticks all the boxes in terms of being a tense and cerebral terror chiller, added to which is a rough sort of charm which shows that this isn't a glossy and glitzy Hollywood offering, but a more bespoke and crafted journey than the typically crapulent, effect or gore laden fare from Hollywood. Hey, I admit I do enjoy a great many of the aforementioned "crapulent, effect or gore laden fare from Hollywood" but the thing is really, a successful horror film has to make you think or surprise you and that is something that recent productions are incapable of doing. All we seem to have now are remakes of prior classics, Texas Chainsaw Massacre for example or international box office stormers like Ring. There are only so many times that you can watch the same story told in a different way or with more effects and gore. After a while you get to the point of no longer being interested in the genre or by the "new" films being released because we have seen them all before, which is obviously why international cinema offerings like Dark Water and Ring are proving so popular now. Although if these films had a bigger, wider release and audience in the USA then Hollywood wouldn't be able to get away with remaking them....

Personally, I didn't feel that this was as good as Ringu but it trickles along and proves a good horror chiller nonetheless.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Picture 1.77:1 Anamorphic Good quality transfer
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (Japanese) Pretty good soundtrack but nothing to really grab you
Features Star & Director filmographies
Creepy semi-animated menus
Asia Extreme trailer reel
Stills gallery
Justin Bowyer film notes
Verdict Nothing really awesome or terribly impressive to be honest. This film deserves a better realease with more in the way of extras, the standard "Tartan Asia Extreme" release just doesn't really cut it.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home