Movie Review: DARK WATER (2002)

Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the Japanese horror feature DARK WATER (2002) by director Hideo Nakata.  To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:

“A mother and her six year old daughter move into a creepy apartment whose every surface is permeated by water.”

First of all, this review is going to be based solely upon the Japanese version of this movie and will make no mention of the American rendition.  My reasoning is twofold, the first being that I have never seen the update/imitation and the second being that, even if I had, I want to judge this on its own merits/pitfalls.  Are we all clear?  Good, let us begin.

There is a gloominess that pervades this entire film thanks to the muted color palette.  Even when there are no actual rain or water effects on the screen, the sets are often stark or dressed with very drab colors that create an atmosphere of despair.  As the water begins to creep in more and more, the dread is only increased by the overcast look of this movie.

The water effects themselves are quite good, especially when it comes to the elevator scenes. While I could appreciate some of the smaller uses of water within this piece, it was when they went big that I was left truly impressed.  The overwhelming use of the water brought to mind the idea that our single mother lead was, in her own way, drowning in the stress and pressures that she had to deal with on a daily basis.

The acting was perfectly passable.  Our lead actress was the standout as her facial tics betrayed someone trying to keep control even as her life begins to spiral.  The daughter was quite good as well as she nailed the emotional finale.  Beyond those two, the rest of the cast were fine, but never really stood out much.

All in all, this is a nice little gem in the Japanese horror realm that has some truly impressive water effects.  The dramatic notes were perfectly hit by the actresses portraying the mother and daughter.  Fans of movie like The Ring (2002) or Ju-on (2002) should give this one a whirl.

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