The director (Hideo Nakata) and the
writer (Koji Suzuki) of
"Ringu" (the film later remade as "The
Ring") reunite again and
offer us “Dark Water”. Does it live up to "Ringu"? In my puddle of blood...it sure does.
"Dark Water" has all of its “mature” bases covered and
should please the more patient horror fan looking for something more
classy and old-fashioned.
The pace of
this film was purposely
and pleasurably slow with a strong emphasis on build up and character.
Although not as intense as "Ringu", it definitely cast a web around my grey
matter via its spooky aura and kept me glued to the screen like a fly
waiting to be devoured alive. This flick can also almost be perceived as a
drama with supernatural undertones that eventually become overtones for
the finale. I found the dramatic elements in regards to the
mother/daughter relationship and the ongoing custody battle to be quite
gripping. The poignant theme
of abandonment and of history repeating itself also reinforced
the profound flavor of the narrative and was one the main hooks that kept
me on the line.
Now, that’s not to say that there are
no scares here. "Dark Water" served up some weighty chills via its various
uses of water as a threatening element and managed to put out and sustain
an unsettling feel from frame one till the end. I never thought a water
stain or a water puddle could be frightening in any shape or form, but this
surreal pill thankfully proved me wrong by slipping the willies under my
skin via its H20 devices. The fear tactics themselves were thankfully of
the “simplicity hits harder” school of horror; think ghostly
apparitions, mysterious footsteps or enigmatic shadows washing over walls.
Aaaahhhh, what a breath of fresh morbid air!
Which leads me to the last block of the
picture that particularly crushed my skull into ashes with its horrific
yet poetic displays of fear. After all the build up, I was happy to say
that the payoff was well worth the constant mind-toying and the wait.
Taking into account the sub-genre in which it plays, the twists that
arose had quite an unconventional spin to them and the fact that they also
succeeded in keeping the emotional resonance that the film emanated
throughout, made them all that more powerful. Horror that makes you feel.
The downsides of this picture are slim,
but still there. Some might find it too low-key for their liking, but I
didn’t bother me one iota. I guess my sole peeve with this living dead
girl were its similarities with "Ringu" in terms of its main horror angle;
the ghost of the little Sadako-like girl and the "Ringu"-like
subplot that came with her. That played against the film where I was able
to guess its secrets and its chain of events fairly early on. But
on the flipside, the flick eventually used familiarity in its favor and
sucker-punched me when my back was turned with its stellar conclusion.
Wrap all of that substance
in a visual style that can only be described as restraint and hypnotizing (I
kept thinking of Argento’s "Inferno" while watching this film), a
brilliant use of the locations at hand (the building, the elevator, the
water tower…wow) and arresting images to boot (the elevator
waterfall...fuck me man) and you get a film that hits the donkey in the
face with every throw. Heartfelt and dramatic? Check. Intriguing ghost story?
touching? Check. Eerie as hell? Check. If it weren’t for its strong
shades of "Ringu", I would call this film: perfect! Get your rubber ducky,
the bath bubbles and the street walkers and hop in the tub with this one!