Reviewed By: Steve Genier
Directed By: Hideo Nakata
Cast: Hitomi Kuroki and Rio Kanno
First the terror of the telephone ringing, now the elevator gets the next treatment. Hideo Nakata first had us biting our nails in his critically acclaimed 1998 film Ringu (The Ring). Now, in his latest film Dark Water, Nakata continues the frights with driving our psyche with the use of a very eerie elevator in a very eerie apartment building. Picture yourself in a padded cell with one little window, no lights only natural and nothing but the sound of water dripping. This is the type of insanity Nakata shows he's capable of in Dark Water.
Yoshimi Matsubara is struggling with a few personal demons, past and present. Jammed in a nasty custody battle with her ex-husband over their daughter, Ikuko. She house hunts until she finds the perfect fit or at least the perfect price. Seven-stories of rundown Outer Limits like apartment building serves as the backdrop to this very trippy ghost tale. Again Nakata serves up a taste of isolationism much like that in The Ring. Yoshimi, abandoned as a child by her mother, will stop at nothing not to repeat onto Ikuko. As they settle into their new home, strange things begin to happen. A mysterious red bag found by Ikuko begins to pop up every where and drives Yoshimi into a frantic. A strange water stain begins to grow with time, water drips and drips. Everything seems to be working against Yoshimi, to the point of losing Ikuko. Then the secret starts to unravel itself, a girl who had gone missing a few years ago begins to play an important part in the climax of this atmospheric film. That same girl appears in this foggy like haze, as if she is trying to lead Yoshimi to the truth. Nakata pulls out everything to get this tale to work. The close-circuit security cameras that show the ghosts of the little girl, the enpt building manager who discount all Yoshimi's cries for help and the little red handbag that belonged to the little girl. Plus you can't forget the elevator, especially during the main scene near the end of the film, very emotional. This is one film that actually had me on the edge of my seat, many scenes were unpredictable and bone-chilling.
Much like The Ring, Dark Water is rich in atmosphere, especially the all to often rainy scenery. The gloomy sets often reflect the melancholy looking characters that haunt this film. It's as if there this huge struggle to get someone to hear your cries, but cries that go unanswered. Another main factor that adds to the gloom, is the film's score. Nakata's direction of the actors is incredibly perfect, like mentioned above, there are a few scenes that are very intense with emotion. Hitomi Kuroki performance as Yoshimi is the highlight of this 102 minute spookfest. Although, not as strong as The Ring it does deliver on a smaller note and will not disappoint Nakata's fans.
Story- 3 Bitch Slaps
Extras- 1 bitch Slap
Picture/Audio- 4 Bitch Slaps
Overall DVD- 2
The DVD in which I viewed this is the Region 3 NTSC release from Widesight. It features Japanese DTS and Digital Dolby 6.1 with Traditional Chinese and English subtitles. It's presented in 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen.