home : news : reviews : features : fiction : podcast : blogs : t-shirts : wtf?

Dark Water
Reviewed by Gary Mitchel, © 2005

Format: Movie
By:   Walter Salles (director) and Hideo Nakata (screenwriter)
Genre:   Horror
Released:   July 8, 2005
Review Date:   July 13, 2005
Audience Rating:   Rated PG-13
RevSF Rating:   6/10 (What Is This?)

"She’s lost, Mommy. Like you." — Ceci

First, there was The Ring, which had poor soggy Samara who drowned in the well without a nearby collie to go get help. Then there was The Grudge, where another ghost had died in the tub. In the third American adaptation of a Japanese horror flick, Dark Water, we have creepy leaks in the roof and flooded apartments. Apparently, the Japanese have issues with the wet stuff.

So here’s the skinny. Dark Water is the story of Dahlia (Jennifer “Labyrinth” Connelly), and her struggle to make a life for herself and her daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade). Dahlia, you see, is having a very rough time lately, which we discover is nothing new as the film progresses. Dahlia has just divorced her husband Kyle (Dougray “MI:2” Scott), has no job and is searching for someplace to live with her daughter. She also has powerful migraines, and her husband accuses her of being a hallucinating paranoid.

If that wasn’t bad enough, her husband is also fighting for full custody of Ceci. He uses the migraines and her supposed paranoia to support his position, along with the fact he has a well-paying job and a new home in Jersey City. All this stress, plus the mention of her supposed paranoia, sets up the inevitable “it’s all in her head” possibility that some horror films like to put in place, but few ever use as the “truth.”

Desperate to find a home in New York that she can afford, Dahlia heads to Roosevelt Island to check out a run-down ten-story apartment building. There, she looks at a small two-bedroom place on the ninth floor.

While the place does have problems, like seemingly nice but actually scummy landlord Mr. Murray (John “Chicago” C. Riley), creepy maintenance guy Veeck (Pete “Unusual Suspects” Postlethwaite), some teen hoodlums, and a leak in the roof from all the rain, at least it’s within her price range.

Speaking of the rain, there is a lot of it. It rains through just about the whole movie.

Once Dahlia and Ceci move in, the creepiness begins.

There are bumps in the upstairs apartment that is supposed to be empty, Ceci picks up a new imaginary friend, strange things come out of the faucets, and of course there’s that water dripping through the ceiling. Dark water. This all leads Dahlia down the path to discover the truth about the apartment upstairs, confront her own damaged childhood, and reach a final confrontation that is quite intense. The problem is getting to said confrontation.

There are some great parts to this film. The mood is very evocative. There is so much water all over the place that I thought I was going to get prune fingers.

If it’s not raining, the sky is that grey where you know it’s just about to burst, and the streets are constantly wet. There are flooded apartments, leaky laundry rooms; the building is in the middle of an island with a water tower on the roof. Water, water everywhere, some of it to drink. With all the water, and the grey, muted color palate, and the score, the movie has a great creepy feeling.

The performances are excellent, as you would expect from Oscar-winner and genre fan favorite Connelly, who does a great job with the slide from stressed-out mom to possibly crazy hallucinating mom. She’s also well supported by experienced character actors like Riley and Postlethwaite who hit all the right notes with their characters. Gade is convincing as Ceci, and while not as good as Dakota "War of the Worlds" Fanning, she’s not nearly as creepy. There’s also a great performance from Tim “Pulp Fiction” Roth as Jeff Platzer, Dahlia’s divorce lawyer.

There's a downside to this movie, however, and it's a big one. Dark Water is slow. I mean dripping faucet in the middle of the night slow. Shyamalan slow. The movie is just over an hour and a half, but it feels like three because it takes so long getting anywhere. The performances are enough to keep you engaged, but the fillm is so slow it's almost tedious waiting for the scares. The slowness isn’t in the character development scenes; the cast keeps those flowing and interesting. It’s in all the set-ups to the scares and development scenes. There are far too many long, slow looks at the building, the rainy city, and the characters silently walking around. Some of this is good for mood, but it swiftly reaches the point where you want to grab the editor and tell him to get on with it.

In the end, the performances are well done and the story is good, if familiar. Dark Water was written by Koki Suzuki, who also wrote The Ring and Ring Two. It has that same creepy feeling, and very similar tropes, but it just isn’t as scary. It is a decent film, but I’d wait for a second-run house or DVD.

RevolutionSF writer Gary Mitchel is fighting for custody of Jennifer Connelly.

Recommend Us
  • Send to a Friend
  • Digg This
  • Reddit It
  • Add to del.ic.ious
  • Share at Facebook
  • Discuss!
  • Send Feedback
  • What size bullets does it take?
  • Franklyn
  • will take them into the Wild
  • Movie Forum
  • Related Pages
  • Print This Page
  • Sci Fi TV Not Not on DVD: Thundarr the Barbarian, Pirates of Dark Water
  • Hulk
  • Labyrinth
  • Search RevSF
  • New on RevSF
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Book Probe: BattleMaster, Wade of Aquitaine, Kriendria of Amorium
  • RevSF Podcast: Drowning in Moonlight: Remembering Carrie Fisher
  • Logan
  • RevSF Home


    Things From Our Brains
    Get even more out of RevSF.

    Your very own sweaty black RevolutionSF T-shirt!
    RevolutionSF RSS Feed
    Search RevSF

    Random RevSF

    contact : advertising : submissions : legal : privacy
    RevolutionSF is ™ and © Revolution Web Development, Inc., except as noted.
    Intended for readers age 18 and above.