by Brian Everstine & r & Dark Water -- Horror/thriller film aficionados in America are being inundated by scary Japanese movies. We saw the trend with The Ring, The Ring 2, The Grudge and now with Dark Water.
As with both installments of The Ring, Dark Water grew from the mind of Koji Suzuki (whose novel this film is based on) and Hideo Nakata (who directed The Ring films and wrote the Dark Water screenplay). Instead of Nakata taking over the directing duty for the English versions, however, this film comes to us by way of Brazilian director Walter Salles, the man responsible for The Motorcycle Diaries and Central Station.
With a bill that boasts the likes of Salles, Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly and the creative crew behind nearly every Japanese horror film, Dark Water comes with high expectations -- which, unfortunately, it does not meet.
The plot centers upon Dahlia (Connelly) and her daughter Cecilia trying to find a humble place to live after a bitter custody dispute. The apartment that they choose seems to take on a life of its own, as the ghost of a former resident, always preceded by "dark water," torments Cecilia and brings up images of Dahlia's all-but-forgotten childhood.
As the plot progresses, viewers are led to expect the constant "boo" moments that made The Ring so famous. For being hyped as a horror film, however, Dark Water produces very few, if any, real scares. Although Salles attempts to let the mood of the cinematography and emotions of children do all of the scaring, the result is disappointing.
As the film progresses, it seems to drag, and gaps meant as breaks in suspense actually turn into boredom. There is even a scene involving a girl in water, which seems like it was cut directly from The Ring, as if the writers had run out of ideas.
The tagline reads, "Some mysteries were not meant to be solved," and it's almost as if the writers were using their own slogan as an excuse not to devise an effective ending for Water.
Starting with The Ring, the recent Japanese crossovers made a splash, but with offerings like Dark Water, the ripples are fading fast. Still, Japanese horror films will continue to be Westernized. In fact, early next year, Nakata will bring over yet another redone version of a successful Japanese film: the Pang brothers' excellent thriller, The Eye.