No one loses their mind instantly ? Sanity seeps away one drop at a time. Yoshimi simply wanted a better life ? for both herself and her daughter Ikuko. Unfortunately, such wishes may sometimes be hard to come by. The cus... more »tody battle has grown embittered and hurtful, her new job is less than desirable, and Ikuko?s schoolwork has taken a turn for the worse. But, Yoshimi has something bigger to worry about. Something upstairs. Something cold and dank. Something that should have never been.« less
I liked the payoff(s) on this horror film from Hideo Nakata
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have gotten to the point in watching horror films that when I watched the American production "Dead Birds" I was wondering if this was another adaptation of a Japanese horror film. Apparently the Japanese approach to the genre, which has become well established on this side of the Pacific because of the success of "The Ring" (nee "Ringu") and "The Grudge" (nee "Ju-on"). However, with "Dark Water" ("Honogurai mizu no soko kara") I found myself thinking how different this 2002 effort from director Hideo Nakata (who did the "Ringu" films) from contemporary American efforts in a different way. Too many American horror films go the route of "Jeepers Creepers," where there is a pretty good set up and then the film goes down hill and the payoff is disappointing in the extreme. But with "Dark Water" I was not overly captivated by the set up, but found that the payoff really hit home.
At this point let me warn you that when you start watching "Dark Water" on DVD it goes right into the dubbed English track, at which point I start having flashes back to all of the badly dubbed Japanese movies I grew up on (which inevitably leads to thoughts of Woody Allen's "What's Up Tiger Lily?"). My strong recommendation is to stop the film and make sure you have the original Japenese language track and the English captions. Fans of the horror genre should be at the point where they can appreciate the natural language and rhythm of Japanese cast. Most of the key sequences here do not require you to do a lot of reading so it is not a great sacrifice and the nuances of the culture are totally lost in the dubbed version.
Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) has divorced her husband and is in a custody battle for her six year old daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). In an attempt to make a new start, mother and daughter move into an apartment, where strange things start happening. The weirdest are the huge water stains that appear on the ceiling and start dripping away and the red children's bag that start popping up every place Yoshimi goes. Then the dead child to whom the bag belongs starts showing up as well. So we have what we would now be thinking of as your basic Japanese ghost story. But there is a bit more going on here as well.
You see, Yoshimi has some trouble being a working mom. She needs a job to survive, and too often Ikuko gets lost in the shuffle, which sometimes means the kids is left standing outside her kindergarten waiting for her mother when all of the other kids have left. As you would anticipate, there is an attendant irony in this as well. But the pressure is getting to Yoshimi who thinks that she is slowly going insane, which works well given all of the above. Characters in these sorts of movies often get so scared that they might go insane, complete with wild eyes and mad cackling, but you do not have them questioning their sanity as often.
"Dark Water" is a less complicated and more subtle horror story than "The Ringu," which is the obvious point of comparison since Nakata and his co-screenwriter Takashige Ichise did both films (the story here is from a novel by Kôji Suzuki. So it is inevitable that this film seems a lesser effort, but that does not really take away from its effectiveness. When we got to the conclusion I found that I liked what happened, and when the inevitable epilogue reinforced the fact, I liked it even more. I do not think this is a great horror film, but I think it is a solid one and I certainly liked it more than the original "Ju-on.""
Tears From the Abyss
Michael S. Fleischer | Morristown, NJ | 10/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dark Water poses an elemental question: How do we evaluate a society? Koji Suzuki's answer may be in the way we treat our children, and Director Hideo Nakata's haunting adaptation of child abandonment and parental sacrifice doesn't fail to deliver.
Dark Water begins with Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) in the throe of a bitter divorce, and embarking on a new life with her young daughter, Ikuku (Rio Kanno). Needing to relocate, they settle in a dank riverfront apartment in a desiccated Tokyo neighborhood, staffed by an opportunistic property manager and recalcitrant superintendent. Yoshimi's less than ideal new job, and Ikuko's trepidation about attending a new school add to their apprehension. Their struggle takes an unexpected turn when Yoshimi senses the ghostly presence of a young girl, wearing a yellow pauncho and grasping her red Mimiko school bag, which Ikuko later finds, but Yoshimi won't allow her to keep. Despite its disposal, the bag mysteriously reappears throughout the film, poignantly punctuating the plot. Yoshimi realizes the serious nature of the girl's presence, who manifests herself, at first, with a watermark on their apartment ceiling, looking much like Sadako's ring from Ringu, before worsening into an ungainly apparition with the passage of time. Yoshimi's new responsibilities keep her from picking-up Ikuko after school on time, on a few occasions, which fuels her estranged husband's drive to gain Ikuku's custody, haggaring an already frustrated Yoshimi.
But here is where the mystery deepens.
The waterworks are accompanied by footfalls from apartment 405, leading Yoshimi to investigate. She learns that a young girl, Mitsuko Kawai, lived in the apartment and was abandoned by her father, following a broken marriage. Moreover, Mitsuko may, in fact, be competing with lkuko for her affection. Emotionally torn, Yoshimi must try to protect her daughter from Mitsuko's pursuit. If this sounds familiar, do not misunderstand. Dark Water is a unique film, with its own story to tell, distinct but not disconnected from Suzuki's Ring series, and well worth viewing.
Children--particularly infants, young girls, the infirm, the frail and the elderly--are society's most vulnerable members. Two decades ago, novelist Morris West grappled with a similar theme (among others) in the Clowns of God (1981), which debated whether or not the mentally incapacitated had the right to survive a world catastrophe. (You'll need to read his novel, for yourself, to learn his answer.) In Dark Water, Hideo Nakata masterfully brings to life a young girl's ghostly search for love and acceptance that overpowers the living. Fine performances abound, underscoring Mitsuko's heart-wrenching tragedy and society's penance.
Nakata's direction superb
D. Sippel | Chicago, IL United States | 09/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I was expecting another creepy horror thriller from Hideo Nakata, in the vein of Ringu, he delivers something different here. Dark Water is more about the difficulty of the main character's situation as a struggling single mother, than it is your typical Asian ghost story.
After viewing countless American style horror films, I immediately took to the varied pacing and attention to atmosphere of Asian horror. With Dark Water, Nakata takes his time, deliberately pacing his story and developing the primary characters. While this is a ghost story, rather than merely setting up scenerios where the ghost scares the bejeezus out of two-dimensional dupes, Nakata seamlessly tells a tale of a mother pushed to the brink, going through a tough divorce, and having to find a home for herself and her daughter, not to mention a job to pay the bills. And as if that wasn't hard enough, she just happens to move in right below a ghost.
I like the idea that everything does not have to have tidy resolution in film. I enjoy the fact that I may have a few questions after the film is over. Is this story told from the mother's point of view? The daughter's perhaps? Is this a story about the strength/weakness of the bond between a mother and daughter, or just a creepy atmospheric ghost story? I think Dark Water is all this and more. I find myself going back over facets of this movie well after the fact.
Dark Water is a compelling story of a mother and daughter's struggle to survive and stay together under very strenuous circumstances. If you are looking for an upbeat, fast paced horror film, pass this one by. Dark Water requires patience through the first two acts, but pays off in the third, in a way which completely fits this thoughtful, moody tale."
Spooky cinema from the East
Zenful | 12/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I recently saw a short television program here in Japan to promote the Japanese launch of the US version of Dark Water! After learning of the spectacular efforts to remake Dark Water to an American version ( to follow on the success of The Ring no doubt) including the casting of Oscar winning actress Jennifer Connelly in the remake, I was excited to see the original Japanese version.
The story of Dark Water is straightforward- a mother and daughter, a custody battle, a move to a new apartment, a new school for the girl and a new job for mom. An expanding water leak on the ceiling of the apartment foreshadows the growing evil presence to come as the story unfolds and we learn that a young girl who lived in the apartment above and had attended the same school, went missing 2 years earlier. The "scary" part of the film is not necessarily the havoc that is wreaked on the mother and daughter- which is a combination of psychological and supernatural- but rather the unravelling of clues as the viewer attempt to figure out the significance of the water leak, the school and the mother.... and how it all ties together.
This is a film with meaning, not simply horror for horror's sake. That said, it is slow and deliberate. This is not a spectacular show of gore and guts. It is meticulous and precise. For example, there are repeated scenes of an empty hallway in the apartment building- it is gray and lonely and cold and sad..... this is the type of canvas that the director (Nakata) paints to infuse this film with spookish and frightening elements. Personally I am not sure I would say this is a "horror" film so much as a supernatural thriller, not so much scary as it was eerie and creepy... It was enjoyable and interesting, and certainly a unique and clever story-line. Subtitles in English."
An out of the ordinary scare film
molefan | 11/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched the American remake of Dark Water before seeing the Japanese original. Although I enjoyed Jennifer Connelly's sensitive performance, having now seen the original, the American version is definitely lacking the creepy, foreboding atmosphere of the Japanese version. There are very scary moments in the film involving the mother (a great performance) daughter (an adorable, but not annoying child actress) and their ghostly encounters. One scene of the daughter playing hide and seek at school is particularly spooky. What I love about this movie is that it relies on atmosphere and mood to provide the scary moments and it is highly effective at providing them. There is a huge sense of foreboding and dread throughout the film, no gore or cheap tricks, but genuine fright, the dilapidated apartment building where everything takes place is appropriately dreary and creepy. This is for fans of psychological thrillers like "Rosemary's Baby", I highly recommend it, it kept me from sleeping the first time I saw it."