Water, Dir; Walter Salles, Cert; 15
recently separated single mother, Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly), moves into
an affordable new apartment with her 6 year old daughter, Ceci (Ariel
Gade), and weird things start happening (all given perfectly rational
explanations, of course).
You may be able to tell from my brief opening synopsis that I didnt
think much of this film. Comparisons to The Ring (Gore Verbinski,
2002) are inevitable both are American remakes of Japanese films
based on novels by the same author (KÔji Suzuki). However,
while The Ring was remade well for a Western audience, Dark
Water was not. How much of this is down to the quality of the
remake, and how much of it is due to the source, I cant comment,
having neither read the novel nor seen the Japanese film. What I
do know is that the story is weak and not at all original, and I suspect
this is the same in the original film and novel. However, the source
material was chosen to be remade - a bad choice maybe, but this is no
excuse for the very poor film I sat through.
The implausible decision by Dahlia to buy the apartment near the start
of the film was the first strong hint for me that Dark Water would
be a disappointing film. It got worse from there in. At 105
minutes its a fairly average length film, but a lot of scenes were
totally unnecessary and the running time couldve been much shorter.
The job interview scene is short, but also pointless. The scene
with the night watchman in the apartment block is also short, but also
pointless. The subplot that never develops regarding Dahlias
lawyer, Jeff Platzer (Sean Penn), and his made-up family is also pointless.
Another sub-plot that hints that Dahlias ex-husband, Kyle (Dougray
Scott), may be trying to make Dahlia uncomfortable in her new home is
also unnecessary. Theres more, but I think you get the point.
What I saw in Dark Water was a good premise for a short film, but,
in making it into a feature film, scenes and subplots have been added
which serve no purpose but to bulk up the running time and ruin the story.
In any horror film of this type (i.e. supernatural), there are always
one or two people who offer reasons for why things are happening
(think of the doctors in The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
or the I must have been seeing things line uttered by many
characters in many films) before the true horror is revealed. In
Dark Water theres so many reasons offered that
it could become a drinking game. I spent most of the film waiting
for the reasons to end and the film to get going, but it never
happens. The climax to the film came as a relief rather than a shock
and the one jump moment Dark Water offers is so conspicuous
in the build up to it that had I seen anyone jump it would have been my
duty to point and laugh.
I dont want to spend the entire review slating the film, so Im
going to say something positive. The acting was fine. The
cast are not to blame for this mess. There you are.
Japanese horror often offers something different to normal, and the American
version of The Ring showed the stories could work in mainstream
films, so I was hopeful before watching Dark Water that it would
be a good film. I was wrong. Mostly pointless, and entirely
boring, Dark Water is not a film Id recommend. 2/10