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Youngstown OhioDark Water (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
Published: 26 December, 2005
Our price: $14.99
List price: $19.99
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As of: November 07th, 2006 06:30:46 AM

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Youngstown Ohio An Underrated Gem

I finally got around to watching this movie and was quite pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's not really all that scary, but to equate it to such drivel as Ring 2 is absurd. The acting is excellent, and the sound, score and cinematography provide the perfect atmosphere for this psychological "thriller." As a psychological study I think it succeeds brilliantly, despite the lack of heart-stopping frights. If you watch the bonus features, you will learn what the creators intended, and I think they were spot on. I really enjoyed this film.

Youngstown Ohio All the ingredients for success but...

"Dark Water" is the 2005 remake of the hugely successful Japanese movie, "Honogurai mizu no soko kara", released in 2002. American remakes of Japanese movies have had varying degrees of success - The Grudge and The Ring, risible sequels notwithstanding, had plenty more good points than bad ones, helping them to stand out from the mire of flash-flash-bang-bang 'horror' movies that Hollywood has deemed fit to release over the last few years.

Remakes are a tricky thing to get right: if it goes wrong you end up with what might essentially be a decent movie but is shunned by all and sundry because it's not enough like the original - or else too similar. Gus Van Sant's 'Psycho' immediately springs to mind - a great cast, beautiful direction and an extremely faithful remake which was shot down by critics and the public alike.

Which brings us to the first thing I noticed about "Dark Water", it's a very, very faithful remake of the Japanese movie, with some truer references to Koji Suzuki's 1998 short story 'Floating Water', which spawned the original film. Jennifer Connelly's character is developed more, we see more reasons for her apparent psychoses and the nature of her relationship with her ex-husband is further developed. Similarly, Ariel Gade as daughter Ceci is a more well-rounded, fully-realised character than Ikuko in the Japanese movie. None of this characterisation spills over into overstatement, either, which is a nice thing.

The script is really very good, there's a minumum of schlocky dialogue and next-to-no verbal diarrhoea or monologing, making this movie a refreshing change from so, so many of Hollywood's recent failed attempts at horror - "Omen 666" and "Silent Hill" immdiately spring to mind as stellar examples of lousy scriptwriting.

On the acting front, Connelly and Gade give powerhouse performances as the mother and daughter duo plagued by the supernatural, and I must say, Ariel Gade's performance is one of the best given by a child actor in recent memory. Supporting cast turns are amply provided by the always-watchable John C. Reilly and generally so-so Pete Poistlethwaite. Dougray Scott turns in a great performance as Connelly's ex, his scenes towards the end of the movie make the character more human and more three-dimensional than his Japanese counterpart.

Direction is competent, and, in places, very effective. Walter Salles' use of a very desaturated palette and lots of angular shadows lend a real sense of visual isolation to the movie, and, on the whole, "Dark Water" is a visually very pleasing movie.

So why only two stars? Well, I am sorry to say it, but "Dark Water" is just not frightening. It does not achieve what it sets out to do, it does not scare us. And that's a big, big shame, considering that most all of the other elements are very solid. Sadly, no amount of decent acting, good direction and a plausible script can save this movie from the fact that it's lost so, so much in the translation from East to West. What made "Honogurai mizu no soko kara" so wonderful was perhaps the ambiguity of the characters, their emotional unavailability providing plenty room for the audience's imagination to manouevre. In fleshing the characters out more, "Dark Water" removes that ambiguity, and leaves us with a very black-and-white retelling of a story where the grey areas should provide the thrills.

Disappointing, but you might enjoy it as a rental?

Youngstown Ohio Not scary and not developed very well

When I heard that this US remake was based on a Japanese horror I was very hopeful that it would be a good, scary film like The Ring or The Grudge. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver on all fronts.

The plot is too much like The Ring or countless other recent horror films which concern a tragic person who dies and subsequently tries to contact the living. This theme has been explored to death in horror movies for the last thirty years or so e.g. Ghost Story, What Lies Beneath, The Changeling, The Ring, The Grudge etc etc.

My main objection to Dark Water was that it was just not scary. There are only one or two sudden shock moments and even they are not fantastic. Jennifer Connolly is a competent actress and has an impressive CV but unfortunately , this is a stain on it. The actress who played her daughter was excellent but the material was weak.

I would have to question some of the loose ends in the plot that are never resolved. It's very sloppy indeed e.g. what was Dougray Scott doing talking to the two deliquents who were harassing Connolly in the apartment ? What was the point to the Tim Roth lawyer character ?

This film seemed promising at the beginning but I am afraid that it didn't amount to enough of a scare and there was far to much vagueness
to satisfy anyone at the end.

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