Dark Water (2002)

| October 27, 2016

Modern American horror audiences have no patience. If there isn’t something jumping out from nowhere every 5 minutes, the movie is deemed boring. That’s a rather unfortunate way of thinking. Some of the most effective horror movies of all time had slow builds with amazing payoffs. For example, 1963’s The Haunting is eerie and atmospheric, using the characters own fear and paranoia against them, instead of jump scares. In more recent times, foreign horror has kept to the notion of “less is more.” One such film is the Japanese horror/thriller Dark Water.

Dark Water tells the story of Yoshimi Matsubara, a recently divorced young woman struggling to gain sole custody of her 6 year old daughter Ikuko. Yoshimi is also trying to get back into the job market, as well as find a suitable apartment for her and her daughter. The apartment Yoshimi settles on is pretty drab, with water stains in multiple area of the ceiling, both in the hallways and in her own apartment.

A red child’s bag full of various children’s accessories is found by Ikuko, and Yoshimi reacts very strangely. She tries to throw the bag away, yet it continues to reappear. Yoshimi has multiple flashbacks to her childhood, where she was a child of divorce. In one such flashback, Yoshimi sees the very red bag that her daughter found. Or does she? The line between fantasy and reality is drawn rather thinly.

Hitomi Kuroki is wonderful as Yoshimi. She’s plays a sympathetic mother that the audience feels for in a deep way. Rio Kanno is terrific as Yoshimi’s daughter Ikuko. Her emotions, especially those of loneliness and sadness, come through brightly. Unfortunately, Hollywood got their hands on Dark Water in 2005, making a far inferior remake. Jennifer Connolly as the divorced mother doesn’t resonate nearly as emotionally powerful as Kuroki’s performance.

Dark Water was directed by Hideo Nakata, with cinematography by Junichiro Hayashi. Both men, in their respective roles, were also behind the world wide phenomena known as Ringu, which of course inspired 2002’s The Ring. The atmosphere and oncoming dread these men manage to create will stick with you all throughout Dark Water.

Dark Water is another stunning Blu-Ray/DVD combo release from the consummate professionals at Arrow US. The special features include brand new interviews with director Hideo Nakata, novelist Koji Suzuki, and cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi. Other special features include the original “Making of” documentary, an interview with actress Asami Mizukawa (16 year old Ikuko), and the original trailer. The Blu-ray/DVD comes with a reversible sleeve featuring new artwork as well as the original poster art.

Dark Water may have a slow build, but the wait is worth it. At the very least, watch both the original and the remake and make your own judgement. That way, you’ll get more horror for Halloween! And everyone needs as much horror (and Halloween) fun as possible.

About the Author:

Steve graduated from Southwestern Michigan College with an Associate's Degree in communications. He currently resides in Niles, MI

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