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Divorcée Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) and her young daughter Ikuko
(Rio Kanno) move into a run-down apartment block where they are haunted
by the ghost of Mitsuko Kawai, an emotionally troubled little girl
whose body has remained undiscovered since she accidentally drowned in
the building's water storage tank two years earlier.
Those who watch Hideo Nakata's Dark Water expecting a real fright-fest might be rather disappointed: it's a slow burner of a film that delivers a relentlessly brooding atmosphere, one of death and decay, but which is surprisingly short on nerve-jangling scares (unless, of course, you're freaked out by dripping water, red schoolbags, or six year old girls, in which case you'll be scared s**tless).
Indeed, for most of the running time, Yoshimi or Ikuko never actually appear to be in any real danger from the film's restless spirit, their problems arising from far less ethereal sources, and it is only in the films closing moments that it becomes apparent that Mitsuko means to do Ikuko harm (so that she can claim Yoshimi as a surrogate mother) and the real horror begins.
Although Nakata's direction is a little too languid in style for my taste, it is technically accomplished, with innovative camera-work and stunning cinematography throughout, and the cast give excellent performances; it might not have left me with the serious case of the jitters I had hoped for, but I had a reasonable enough time with Dark Water, and certainly recommend it over the dreary remake.
"Dark Water" is the story of a young woman who is in the middle of a
bitter custody battle with her ex-husband, who moves into a creepy
apartment with her daughter. Soon, water comes leaking from the floor
above, and a mysterious red bag appears although no other children live
in the apartment complex. What follows is one of the most beautiful
horror films I have ever seen. Wow, this is a true gem that you don't
see in America, a movie that makes you feel sympathetic for the ghost
and afraid of it simultaneously. A great script and eerie atmosphere
create the perfect horror film. I have no interest whatsoever in seeing
the American remake because I know that it will ruin it for me. Also,
the little-kid ghost is just simply terrifying. See it.
Rated: PG-13 for Disturbing Images.
Like Audition it is the slow build up of real drama and tension that drives the supernatural effect. It is so important to "keep it real" as they say. I never thought water would scare me like it did in this movie but i did think while watching this, maybe only in japan a water mark on your ceiling could be interpreted as a horror theme or idea. Im glad i saw the original b4 us version. I made the mistake once with the grudge. The Yanks don't get that its Japanese culture that conflicts so well with horror elements. Their culture seems so reserved anyway it naturally creates a harsh juxtaposition with anything extreme, violent or weird. I love the Japanese culture and if you compare this type of film to Lost in Translation you can see how right Coppola got it. Maybe the west just doesn't get Japanese society. We are so different. Subtlety people is the key. Im Australian and i don't know the meaning, but I'm trying to learn.
I know on the subject of the saddest scene in the film, the majority
will immediately go for the elevator scene which, granted is TRULY
heart breaking, especially when Yoshimi and Ikuko look at each other
through the closed elevator doors, both crying, just before it goes up
to the top floor, etc.
However, for some reason, I keep thinking about the 'final goodbye scene' set 10 years later when Ikuko is 16 - when she returns to the apartment complex, it would seem hoping to find her Mother.
When she goes inside their old apartment and everything is just as it was 10 years ago when Yoshimi 'disappeared' (as far as Ikuko was concerned).
She looks around the apartment, which seems abandoned and is about to leave when she senses another 'presence' in the room, and turns to see her mother standing in the bedroom looking at her.
Once they have talked and Ikuko suggests returning to with live with her again, Yoshima tells her that she is 'sorry, that they can't be together'.
Ikuko senses Mitsuko behind her, spins around to find no one there, then turns back to her mother who has also disappeared (to return with the ghost). Again, left alone calling for her mother. Gulp!!! Then the very last shot in the film of Ikuko walking away from the apartment complex - for the last time. It seems that truth of what happened 10 years ago has finally dawned on her and she's all the more saddened now knowing that she and her mother never will be together again, contrary to what she had hoped for.
A total tragedy for both daughter AND mother who I felt every bit as sorry for in the painful choice and sacrifice she had to make.
Then, that gorgeous piece of music as the credits roll. I saw the film two days ago and that 'final goodbye' scene is still in my head. I think it actually moved/saddened me more than the elevator scene.
This is not a story that could have been conceived in Arizona, say, or
the Australian outback.
All of Japan (except for Hokkaido) has its "tsuyu" or rainy season every year in May-June-July, depending on the part of the country. Some years, there really isn't much change in the weather. Other years, Westerners such as myself start to think about building an ark...the rain is that relentless. Humidity is 90% or higher, mold and mildew everywhere, centipedes appear in the bathroom, ...ugh.
Of course if it actually continued to rain the entire movie, much of the eeriness of the movie would be lost--just because one wouldn't think oddly of all that water. Still, I think the original storyline must have come to the writer, Koji Suzuki, one rain-sodden June afternoon....
As with so many films in this genre, top marks for mood and atmosphere. One of the better Japanese occult/ghost/horror movies of recent years.
Yet another in a long line of J-Horror movies featuring a creepy little girl with really long black hair that covers her eyes. If you liked Ringu and Ju-On then you'll probably like this. Comparing this to those other films, I still thing that Ringu has the best story but this was a close second. Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara)was the definitely the creepiest in my opinion , hence the tittle of my review. Compared with American horror movies this is completely devoid of any gore but it's scarier then the typical American splatter fest. This movie uses some deliberate pacing but you're never lulled into a false since of security due to the often tilted and askew camera angles that keep you feeling uneasy. The tension remains high even in the quietest on screen moments from beginning to end in this film. Although I can't say that I completely understood what happened at the end from a combination of the language barrier and some very convoluted plot twists....but rest assure it was cool. I highly recommend this to any newcomers to J-Horror that want to see what else is out there beyond Ringu
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Dark Water" is a very effective chiller that takes its time building to a somewhat unsettling conclusion. A young wife and mother is in the throes of a divorce and moves with her daughter into a rundown apartment complex, where water always seems to be dripping from the ceiling. Her soon-to-be ex-husband wants custody of the kid and proceeds to make life highly unpleasant for his wife. Between the constantly dripping water and the husband's antics, our heroine suffers a nervous breakdown and begins seeing a ghost. Or is it? The ending is haunting in more ways than one. The American remake uses part of this ending, and makes an effort to spell things out a bit more clearly. Either version is tragic in its consequences. This is less a shocker than a sad tale of a woman's complete breakdown. Aided and abetted by a ghost. Or is it? See this one. Then see the remake. Both have their good points.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know where to start. after watching Ju On and Ringu, this one
had me thinking, "I maybe give this a try." When i watch this, it
didn't disappoint me at all. Through the whole film, its creepiness
crept through my skin until the end which nearly got me flying through
the ceiling. I was so amazed with it, but i was also sad for the kids,
izuko and little miss Kawai.
This movie is a definite must see for open minded people.
This one unlike Ju On or ringu, no one really dies, except the ghost girl herself. It wasn't really a horror film, much likely a drama due to the mother's divorce case and haunting ghost who wants a mother.
The music in the end was very good, but didn't well match to the film itself, i think.
I really love it when a movie shows no blood or little blood, and absolutely no gore. This film doesn't have any blood or gore. Just lots and lots of water, yet nothing good to drink.
I have to say, Director Shimizu-san from "Ju On" and Director Nataka-san from "Ringu" and "Dark water" both are very respectful directors and i wish i could participate in their film.
I'm gonna say this, The Goreless ghost horror films are the only horror films i will ever watch, i wish i can tell the two directors this, "They have my deepest respect and i am thankful for their films"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What is it about Japanense horror directors that they go for long
female black hair hung over the face? Is it a culture thing? This film
is scary and very sad. The poor daughter who is abandoned by her mother
for a little girl ghost. Boy, if it was the directors intent to make me
cry, he succeeded. My heart wept for the kid and the mother too. The
music is haunting and almost unbearable to listen to. If the American
version does not keep the music it will be a lesser work. Not a great
film, but a heart rendering one.
An unpredictable ending.
But, also deeply undeserving.
I have been watching a lot of horror movies in my life, from all over the world, and I must admit Dark Water just scared me to death. Very few movies can send shivers along my spine and give me disturbing goosebumps - I am getting physical here but I am really talking about the real thing, that feeling telling you "OK, I am scared now" - but Dark Water did. I stumbled on to it on Australian TV one night and since then I can't get my mind out of it. Those Japanese movies definitely work on a different level than any others. Another good example is the Ring of course and Ju-on (the grudge), even though this one is a bit too messy to be as good. No blood, no guts, but presences and silent visions give Japanese horror movies what it needs to be effective. By the way, yes, children ARE scary, I've got a 16-month old who can give me the creeps as well. Keep on watching. Lorraine.
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