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The message? Don't be late to pick your child up from school
Brandt Sponseller25 April 2005
Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is in the middle of a nasty divorce from her husband, Kunio Hamada (Fumiyo Kohinata). The biggest issue of contention is their daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). Kunio accuses Yoshimi of being unstable, and he seems to have a point. Still, Yoshimi is awarded at least temporary custody of Ikuko. We see her finding an apartment for her and Ikuko to live in. They pick a less-than-ideal apartment, because it is affordable. Soon after, strange occurrences begin. Yoshimi's bedroom ceiling is developing a water stain. Mysterious puddles of water appear in different locations. An unusual item keeps appearing, despite attempts to discard it. Yoshimi periodically sees a strange girl, but only in glimpses. Ikuko begins acting oddly. On top of all this, Yoshimi is trying to go back to work, and she's having trouble balancing that with taking care of Ikuko. Things are spiraling out of control. Are the problems due to Yoshimi's divorce, or is there also something more sinister or supernatural going on?

Despite Dark Water's relatively overt similarities to a number of other filmic works, this is one of director Hideo Nakata's most successful films--at least as good as his famed Ringu (1998), if not better. I came awfully close to giving Dark Water a 10 out of 10, and can easily see myself raising my score on subsequent viewings. Many facets of the film do not open up until you see them again. For example, when fact checking something about the film shortly before writing this review, I re-watched the beginning; the opening credits are extremely eerie, but the full impact doesn't hit you until after you've seen the film once and more fully realize what you're looking at while watching the first shot.

The similarities include quite a few thematic resemblances to Ringu, which shouldn't be surprising considering that not only is Nakata the director for both films, they are both based on novels by the man who is often called "The Japanese Stephen King", at least in the Japanese press--Koji Suzuki.

Like Ringu, Dark Water's menace comes in the form of a young, long haired Japanese girl who makes frequent, mysterious appearances. Girls may be the focus because of irony--they're supposed to be cute (as is Kanno, who turns in a great performance along with her more adult fellow cast) and innocent. A girl menace should therefore be that much more unnerving.

The menace is often accompanied by water. Water was important symbolism in Ringu, too. I would venture a guess that Nakata and/or Suzuki have a fear of water. It might be more impersonal, too. Water is a powerful force, both easily adapting to its surroundings and easily molding them. It permeates much of the world. As such, it's a good visual symbol for kami, which is the Shinto "essence" or "beingness" that permeates everything, and (among many other things) can be godlike, or the soul of a dead human, or tsumi, a "pollution" form of kami which could perhaps be also at least symbolically cleansed by water.

Another important symbolic commonality shared by both Ringu and Dark Water is that of claustrophobic spaces. These occur in Ringu in forms like the well, closets and crawl spaces. Dark Water has the elevator and a structure for which you'll only realize the importance near the end of the film. Water combined with the elevator also enables Nakata to give a nice nod to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) in one scene.

A further similarity to Ringu is that Dark Water is just as concerned with familial problems as it is concerned with horror. In fact, the horror may only be symbolic or may only be a metaphor for familial problems (in the Ringu/Ring films, this is made even more clear in Nakata's latest, American Ring film--The Ring Two, 2005). Both feature a young mother struggling to maintain a normal existence with her only child. In Dark Water, it is particularly easy to see the horror elements as mere metaphors for Yoshimi's psychological decline and the effects it has on her daughter, which echo her own problematic childhood--we learn that her parents were also divorced when she was young, and the opening dramatic scene of the film shows Yoshimi as a child, waiting at school for someone to pick her up. We also hear her comment that her mother was "bad".

This is not to say that Dark Water has no focus on horror. Nakata's well known deliberate pacing is perfect here. The spooky events are subtle but unnerving, and Nakata achieves some amazing build-ups, such as the scene in the elevator near the end of the film, with a particularly frightening reveal. This reveal works as well as it does because Nakata takes so long to get there. He builds tension through stretching out pregnant pauses until the viewer is ready to burst. There are many such scenes throughout the film.

Dark Water also succeeds because the story is kept relatively simple and straightforward. Unlike typical American films, much of the story is "told" through implication. As a viewer, you are frequently left to figure out decisions and events based on seemingly innocuous comments in an antecedent scene followed by relationship and scenario changes in a following scene. In other words, you have to make assumptions about what has happened. That might sound complex, but the aim, which is wonderfully achieved, is actually to simplify the events on screen. Although that famous Asian horror film dream logic is still present in the supernatural events, it doesn't usurp the plot, which continues to gradually hone in on and build up the tension between Yoshimi, her husband, Ikuko, the mystery girl, and the apartment complex. The ending, which comments on all of those elements and the profound ways that they've changed, is particularly uncanny and poignant.
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One of the best ghost movies ever made
galensaysyes25 March 2003
This is my idea of a horror movie. No junk, no noise, no random jolts, but plenty of fear, delivered quietly and compactly, without fuss. It's the most suspenseful movie I've seen since "Ring," and I think it's even better. Like that movie, it put my stomach in knots to prep them for the chills, which rose up like waves out of calm water. I thought "Ring" rather like a Robert Aickman story; this is as near as a movie can come. The director has uncanny skill in knowing where to place the camera and how long to hold a shot. And the leading actress gives a wonderful performance. Her face in the elevator...but that would be giving it away. The conclusion is foreseeable--maybe the ends of all ghost stories are foreseeable--but nonetheless satisfying. If you like tales of quietly disturbing dread, this is one for you.
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Tragic story of loneliness and abandonment
earnestjk9 November 2004
My theory of why I responded so strongly with Dark Water is that it's about people that you can relate to. It isn't about a cop who searches for the serial killer leaving cryptic puzzles, nor a lawyer who defends a crazy murderer who may not be the real killer, etc. It's about a single mother who's on the verge of losing one thing she cares for the most - her daughter.

She has to go for job interviews, she has to find a place to live with little money, and she has to see a divorce lawyer to fend off her rather nasty (yet not unreasonable) husband. Life's tough for Yoshimi, and who could not identify with her? I certainly did, and maybe it's the main reason why the movie worked on me so well.

I sympathised her character and her predicament. I cared for her choice. I kept thinking, 'God, please give this poor woman a break.', but as every good movie must, problems keep piling up on her already over-burdened shoulder, and the ghost haunting that old, damp apartment doesn't help her situation.

As many other reviewers mentioned, this is not all that scary. If you are looking for pure Asian horror to scare you s***less, this isn't it. But on some level it worked on me better than, say, Grudge, because the characters inhabit this picture felt real. Natural performances from the little girl were just amazing (except a couple of spots where her acting was just little off), but overall I totally bought her character.

When she says she needs no one but her mother, I felt a tingle of sensation in my eyes - I wanted them to be together as their love seemed so real. Hitomi Kuroki, playing the motehr, nicely underplays her role - she is polite and tries so hard to pull her life together against overwhelming odds. She is the center of this picture in every single sense.

Also consider the characters in Dark Water, they are all firmly grounded on reality. The divorce lawyer for example, when she tells him that she sees a ghost, he calmly examines the apartment and offers the most reasonable advice that any lawyer would give. Even the husband, while nasty, never oversteps the line of a villain. He after all does care for the welfare of the little girl, and concerns that she sometimes doesn't pick up the child in time.

This is a sad, tragic drama that deals with the souls of the children abandoned and lost by their parents. When that yellow flashback plays on the screen, I felt more pity than horror, so much so the last scene where Yoshimi held up that dead child, maybe it all made sense.

Ending perhaps was little weak - maybe because I cared so much about Yoshimi and her daughter, I just wanted them to be happy and together. Not like this. All great movies regardless their genre constructs human drama as its core. While this may not be a great movie, but a damned fine human drama with a streak of horror this is.
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Slow building nervousness and unease, building to shocking revelations. An excellent movie and performances.
Richard Brunton10 February 2003
A story very similar in certain areas to another story by Hideo Nakata, but different enough to stand apart. Using similar techniques to the Ring series, Nakata employs askew camera angles, wide shots and the mixing of foreground and background, showing normality in one and abnormality in the other, often with the horrors in the background, unnoticed by the foreground characters. The use of audio, and indeed lack of in parts, heightens the tension and the feeling of unease even more. Throughout the film a nervousness grows, beginning with a slight niggle of something wrong, building to the final shocking realisations. Despite understanding the story before the end is reached, Nakato manages to pull you on through the story, in fact, even past where other films would have ended. Acting from the child is stunningly good, as is with the mother, with much of the story played out in the emotions of their faces rather than their actual words. This is perhaps what succeeds so well, the realism of the dialogue and the slow brooding story, with a distinct lack of action. Something Hollywood attempts to recreate in their unoriginal remakes.
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A very effective ghost story that actually delivers chills in place of gore
bob the moo18 June 2003
In the middle of a difficult custody battle over her 6 year old daughter with her ex husband, Yoshimi Matsubara takes a flat in an old building in order to get some stability in their lives. However the problems start with a constant and spreading leak in the ceiling of their flat and the sense of someone else being around the building. Yoshimi becomes increasingly on edge when Ikuko appears to be effected.

Setting out my stall from the start I really liked Ringu and was happy to see this film from the same director. I knew nothing about it when I sat in the cinema and I think that is the best way to see it (although my plot synopsis about will have spoilt nothing). Dark Water continues Nakata's ability of unsettling audiences with little devices. Here he stays with the child theme from Ringu and it works very well despite being a much simpler plot that isn't anywhere near as clever as the other film. However in terms of delivering scares Nakata builds with shadowy images and creeping effects – the spread of the leak across the ceiling is creepy and the reoccurring image of a child's pink bag becomes increasingly unnerving as the film progresses.

The direction is strong throughout with the camera preferring to turn to see what the characters see rather than having something leap into view or simply be cut to – this turning movement can take seconds where our tension is build by being kept waiting. Again the use of shadowy figures and fleeting glimpses of things is very creepy and it really worked for me much better than all the gore in the world. It is a little ironic that one of the biggest jumps from the audience came from the film's one use of CGI effects, but this worked well simply due to the build up of suspense all the way through.

To compliment this the film uses music and sound very well. On the odd occasional it does the tradition thing where the music builds to up the tension, this works but is not unusual. What works better is the use of music WHEN the creeps arrive! Whenever Yoshimi looks at the leak the music gives it an unnerving quality that may not have existed with the shot alone. The simple plot makes for an effective little ghost story – there is an element of mystery here but it is more about the suspense than the history. This is OK but the ending is a little more predictable than I would have liked (at first glance) and the epilogue didn't really work for me and I felt it needed a stronger close (not necessarily a jump though). I say `at first glance' because it appears predictable but really it changes where I thought the film was going and the whole basis for the creepy scenes – ie I had assumed that the girl was taking Ikuko for play etc – I'll say no more but you'll understand when you see it.

The cast were good. My friend said that Kuroki's Yoshimi was so sappy she wanted to slap her but I actually thought she played it well. She convinced me she was a woman going through an emotionally challenging time and was being pushed. There was an element of her overplaying (maybe? It could be taken as realism) the fear in order to heighten the audience's but really this was benefical to the film as a whole. Kanno's Ikuko is excellent – I can't imagine a child I know being able to cope with that sort of filming but she does it very well and is a million miles from the annoying brats that Western films seem to dig up when required. These two are excellent and have reasonable support characters but the real star is a character you only really glimpse and the creepy atmosphere created by Nakata.

Overall anyone who saw the remake of Ringu (and it was No1 for a while) should ignore the subtitles and go and see this. It lacks the depth of Ringu and the epilogue's search for a greater significance is a little plodding and out of place, but it is still an effective ghost story that is a painfully slow at times but only serves to make it genuinely unnerving and creepy throughout.
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Mother and daughter relationship makes it scary
Atavisten26 May 2005
The silence the newly divorced mother and her 6 year old daughter experience in an apartment block they have just moved into sets the mood here. We see how they are together realistically, that means lots of silence and little action. One aspect that makes this scary is this realistic depiction of isolation you can get in these houses. And you cant help but wish the best for the two, struggling with work, the divorce rights and beginning school. And it rains.

Water starts dripping from the ceiling and soon it permeates the whole building creating an uneasy and nervous mood that sneaks in on you and when you're not ready for it makes your nerves scream. You know its gonna happen and you get a good idea of where its leading, but its so well made that it doesn't matter.
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Extremely creepy.
HumanoidOfFlesh8 December 2003
Hideo Nakata's "Dark Water" is one of the creepiest Japanese horror movies I have ever seen.A nervous mother Yoshimi Matsubara,undergoing divorce proceedings,moves into an apartment building that is haunted by a young girl,who disappeared years earlier."Dark Water" is a perfect horror film.It is based on a novel by Koji Suzuki,so fans of "Ringu" won't be disappointed.Nakata's technique is to imply terror by suggestion,rather than the overuse of special effects.He perfectly captures an atmosphere of uncontrollable fear.Hitomi Kuroki is excellent as the neurotic,paranoid Yoshimi and Rio Kanno is equally remarkable as her five year old daughter,Ikuko.So if you're a fan of Japanese horror give this one a look.10 out of 10.Highly recommended.
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ferbs542 April 2008
Director Hideo Nakata's 1998 offering, "Ringu," based on a book by the so-called "Stephen King of Japan," Koji Suzuki, was one of the scariest movies I've seen in years. Thus, it was with great expectation that I popped the same team's 2002 effort, "Dark Water," into my DVD player at home. And while this latter film may not be the horror masterpiece that "Ringu" is, it still has much to offer. The story here concerns a newly divorced mother, Yoshimi Matsubara (sympathetically portrayed by Hitomi Kuroki), who moves into a run-down apartment building with her 5-year-old daughter, Ikuko, while at the same time starting a new job and engaging in a custody battle. We really come to care about the plight of these two characters, especially when some decidedly creepy incidents in the building start to pile up, and this gradually escalating sense of there being something "wrong" with the building turns out to be fully justified. Whereas "Ringu" provided us with that truly terrifying TV crawl-through scene, "Dark Water" offers a scene that is also absolutely guaranteed to raise the hackles on the back of any viewer's neck (I'm thinking here of the one in the elevator near the end, natch). Similar again to "Ringu," a water container turns out to be the site of a childhood tragedy, and a lank-haired ghost girl makes for one very creepy presence. Special kudos must be given here to young Rio Kanno, in her role as Ikuko. Kanno is just remarkable, and surely one of the most adorable kids I've ever seen on film. I'd give her a 9.8 on the Cute-O-Meter. With an involving story, excellent acting, some genuine chills and that great novelist/director pedigree mentioned above, "Dark Water" is a fine example of "J-horror" indeed, and if nothing else underlines the importance of having a really good building super!
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Try listening to water dripping again without feeling slightly edgy when you're alone.
mhmunim22 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Right, lets make one thing clear. This film does not match the intensity or the verve of what the Ring trilogy was. Now that we have that clear lets carry on.


Right from the beginning of the film you know it is from the same director. It once again follows the same style. The story without spoiling it is about a divorced mother moves in with her child to a shabby apartment block.

The apartment block itself even though occupied with people looks ominous to begin with. The long narrow corridor lack warmth and the doors of the apartment are metal giving it a cold prison like feel. As you see the apartment for the first time its is devoid of character just dark and foreboding.

Throughout the film we learn about the characters and see them develop. The mothers character is complex. A woman of the edge of a breakdown who is going through a bitter custody battle for her daughter. Yet she carries on for her daughters sake. The fact that her ceiling is leaking water and she sees strange sightings of something does not help.

The end, when it does come is truly gripping, we learn the mystery of the dripping water and the strange sightings. Like Hideos ring trilogy the film slowly builds to another classic scary climax. Before then you are left in suspense as various thing happen here and there. His genius lies in the fact he could take something simple like a child's bag and surround it with sinister elements. Like the Ring Trilogy the end is of someone making a sacrifice to protect a loved one even though that person will be damned to spend time in horror.

Only complaint I have about the film is who on earth chooses the music. It simply spoilt some parts of the film and that person needs to be fired.

The ending was fantastic but as already mentioned its not even close to the Ring trilogy. Still nonetheless in it's own right it is a brilliant film which I recommend watching very late at night.
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Tense Low-Paced Horror Movie
Claudio Carvalho6 November 2005
The reviser Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) has just divorced from her husband and is disputing the custody of their five years old daughter Ikuko Matsubara (Rio Kano) in the justice. She is looking for an apartment and a job to restart her life alone with Ikuko. She finds a small old apartment, and she does not pay attention to a stain of water on the ceiling. When she moves to the apartment, she notes that there is a drip of water in the bedroom, and she asks the landlord to repair the leakage. Meanwhile, Ikuko finds a red bag on the terrace, and Yoshimi returns it to the administrator. Yoshimi sees the creepy shape of a girl wearing a yellow coat, and she finds that she resembles a young girl that has been missing for two years in the neighborhood. She becomes afraid that the girl might be a ghost.

"Honogurai Mizu no Soko Kara" is a tense low-paced horror movie, with a frightening and original story. The characters and the situation are slowly developed, the climax is scary, but I did not like the conclusion. I was really a little disappointed, since I expected much more. However, this film is another great Japanese horror movie, the best producers of this genre in the present days. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Dark Water – Água Negra" ("Dark Water – Black Water")
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richard cavellero6 August 2003
After his acclaimed Ringu Hideo Nakata has made a brilliant, chilling horror film that won't soon be forgotten by any one who sees it. Few films have the nerve to incorporate solid emotion into a good horror story. But this film is not afraid and it suceeds. Because of the way it is you become so completely involved with the charachters and the storyline equally enhancing the scares ten fold. this film and everyone assoicated with should be commended for making one of the most terrifying horror movies of all time. It's about a woman and her young daughter whom move into a new apartment. It just so happens that the past occupant a little girl is haunting it. And she must unravel the mystery as it approaches unrelentlessly. Rush out and find this movie where ever you can. You won't regret it. Dark Water is an instant classic. prepare for some scare!!!!!!!!!
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Moving and Creepy
bensonmum24 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Dark Water is a truly unique film in that it worked on two different levels with me. First, it worked as a horror movie. No, it's not pee-your-pants scary with buckets of blood. Instead it's just plain old creepy with lots of spooky atmosphere. Even though much of the horror lurks at the periphery, it's a constant, definite presence. And when the horror does spill into the characters everyday lives, it's very effective. Who would have thought that a little girl's Kimiko bag could be so eerie? Second, Dark Water works as a drama. I bought the pain of the mother fighting to keep her child. And I felt the joy as the two played together. And in the end, when the mother realizes what she must do to save her child, I felt the heartbreak of both characters.

The whole thing works because of some great acting. Hitomi Kuroki gives a remarkable performance as the mother. I believed and felt everything she was going through. Most of the Asian films I have seen recently have had good acting, but Kuroki's performance stands above the rest. As for the little girl, she's not the annoying child I'm so used to seeing in films like this. She seems real. It's a nice job by such a young person.

My rating would be higher if it weren't for the predictable nature of what happened to the missing Mitsuko. It's should be apparent to anyone (other than the characters in Dark Water) where the child is and how she died. Still, it's a remarkable ride to an inevitable discovery.
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The Asian horror industry is the new standard.
TransAtlantyk18 January 2012
The American horror film scene has been getting staler and staler for the better part of two decades. We get the same boring clichés and jump scares packaged under different titles with little originality. That is not to say that there aren't some very good American horror films to be produced since the 1980s but the more Asian horror that I watch the more I see that they have taken up the torch and are producing the best horror movies of the era.

Dark Water isn't necessarily one of the best Asian horror films to come out but it certainly is a good one. The American remake is really indicative of what is wrong with the industry in North America. The story is the same and many of the scenes are very similar but for some reason, some intangible reason, it is of remarkably lower quality. Even with a very talented actress in the lead role it still doesn't shine like the Japanese original, even though it possesses every required ingredient. It is these intangibles that the Asian horror scene has somehow mastered and the American scene has lost.

Dark Water itself is a nice little ghost story. It is a slow-burner with an unsettling tale and reveals itself subtlety. The characters are not throw away fodder as in many modern American horror tales and there are some scenes that had me, a hardened horror veteran, wanting to squint my eyes at the television screen. This is not American horror in the sense that everything is not in your face blood, gore, and knife wielding psychos. This is a much more subtle, psychological tale. It will creep under your skin.

Asian horror is the new standard. I hope that the American industry will learn thing a thing or two from the Asian scene and not just try to emulate it so that perhaps the next generation of filmmakers can bring the torch of horror back to the United States.
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people , come on, see what is in front of you
db0727 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, this is an excellent movie. Being a fan of alternatives to the US box office cinema culture , i was blessed with discovering some awesome pieces of modern Asian cinema art, and this is definitely one of them. Most of the average movie watchers are not going to like this , I promise ( man, I sound like a movie snob ), but there is always the Hollywood remake! It is slow paced , carefully built, and unlike other horror movies , the characters are well analyzed and the director made a huge effort to tell a story , and not to make a compilation of scary scenes. And that even made me think that it is not really a horror movie , more of a human , social drama in which the director uses the supernatural element to put the spotlight on the main theme of the movie ( at least in my opinion ) - the love of a parent for his child. I mean , come on , it is so simple , the end of the movie ( even though soooooo masterfully crafted to make you think ) says it all - the final line that is. I usually do not this but now i am forced - SPOILERS :first , another apology for writing this , movies were invented for people to see them and not to read about them - so ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO SAW THE FILM AND Didn't UNDERSTAND IT WELL; second, the film is supposed to make you think and make your own conclusions , so be free to disagree with me; and now my view - she left with the ghost girl for only one reason - to protect her own child. People , I am tired of comments like she was obsessed with the ghost girl and loved her more then her own, you now that explanation sucks! She was INTERESTED about what happened to the girl that drowned because she was in this situation in her life where her own daughter was everything she had - her worries about her own child created a model in her mind of a little girl that needs to be taken care of, and guess who fits in that model! So , knowing that the ghost girl wouldn't leave them alone , she sacrificed herself for her daughter , so she can go on with her life free of these scary things that were happening to them. She made the right decision , didn't she ? Anyway , go see the film. I don't know about the remake, but i know about this one - watch it with open mind and think about it - you will be surprised. And at the end ,only to congratulate Mr. Nakata for the thing he has accomplished - he used a ghost story to paint a strong emotional picture ( or a I like to say - he used the dark water to paint the waterfall of life ) and created a go-and -see movie.
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Dark Waters
Jessica Carvalho11 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
'Honogurai mizu no soko kara'is far away from what I imagine to be a great film, but I can't say it's a bad movie either.The biggest problem in my opinion, is that many things in this movie are too vague without many explanations about many facts. (for example, what happened to Yoshimi when she decides to stay with Mitsuko?Is she really dead? If she is, where is her corpse? Why nobody found it?) It's great to horror movies have mysteries, but a director needs to be careful to not let those mysteries go too far,becoming a confusing film.

Besides, it wasn't scary: I could not be terrified in a single moment,pretty different from 'Ju On'.

But there is a great point: this movie has some sense of reality,not caring to be insensitive sometimes: Yoshimi dies, and it is a fact. Nothing of that Hollywood standard where all the good guys live, and all the bad ones are in hell. Ikuko needs to get over it,because there isn't a magic potion or a miracle who is going to let her mother alive.
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Not up to par
existential5 August 2004
Despite the acclaims and positive response, this is a very slow moving film that has built a sense of dread on dripping water. I don't like to get wet either, but this is just silly. There are some nice atmospheric moments and the obligatory long hair, unseen faced ghosts, but this just doesn't come together.

There are scenes that do work, but the elevator bit was "borrowed" from The Eye, and the silent, quick moving ghosts are an Asian ghost story staple. All in all, an unsatisfying experience.

For better spookiness and shock, try The Eye or Tale of Two Sisters.
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Excellent Horror Movie
tuhinsubhradey-118 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie when I was in first year of my college.Eventually It was a rainy night.I could not just move all the time when it was being aired and there after at that night I could not sleep(Really).I can't express what a strange feeling poured my mind.The music ,dialouges,frameshots,lighting was superb.I was not scared but I was amazed how beautifully a movie can be made.This is far better than many Hollywood made HORROR(so-called) movies.I never felt American Horror films enough 'scary'.But found Japanese ones are really scary.It is even better than "dark water" and "the ring"(I mean Hollywood version of both) .I really was thrilled while watching the movie at the time of the scene when the girl returns to their old apartment and talks with her dead mother,at the same time the dead girl also appears on the back with partly covered face.I will never forget this movie which is a must see.
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Next please
Franck12 November 2003
I'm still amazed at how the public responds to this stuff.

While I agree that this has some redeeming qualities, it's so predictable and derivative that I could tell after 5 minutes what the developments would be. I was about 80% accurate.

Critics are easily pleased with anything japanese that uses european fantasy film structure. Funny.

In 2003, there are still people who buy these women characters who behave like... well... women film characters.

And the direction... 100% formulaic. No imagination. No innovation. Just the old recipes. I'm thankful for the sobriety, OK, but a little upset by the ripoffs. And the overacting. And the old manipulative tools. And the cheap trendy sound effects.

I liked very much the scenes with the sympathetic lawyer. Excellent actor, I'll have to watch more from him.

This has been compared to "The Shining"... Well, some can't tell the difference between fresh and canned food. Poor Kubrick!

Amenabar (Abre los Ojos), in the same genre and mannerisms, is far more interesting because he borrows from writers who had a vision (K. Dick among others). Here, what you get is the average Stephen King fast-fantasy syndrome. Well, that's the way it goes.
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Don't forget the shoes...
AwesomeWolf20 April 2005
Version: Japanese, English subtitles (by SBS)

I found something in 'Dark Water'. A sort of revelation. Something that no other Japanese horror movie had made me think about it - is it really necessary to stop and put your shoes on / take your shoes off, whilst running around in terror? And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, I've just debased this fine movie - in a single paragraph - like no one else could.

Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) moves into a new apartment after tentatively winning a custody battle for her daughter, Ikuko. However, life as a single-mother for Yoshimi is time consuming, and her husband and social workers are becoming increasingly convinced that Yoshimi is not fit to take care of Ikuko. Things get worse for Yoshimi when water continues to leak into her apartment from the room above, and other strange events in the apartment building constantly haunt her.

'Dark Water' is presented as a horror movie, and I was expecting a horror film similar Nakata's 'Ring'. 'Dark Water' is not really a horror film, but more of a supernatural drama. Either way, it is a fantastic film. It starts off slowly, maintaining a sense of mystery until reaching a rather creepy climax. I'm not a big fan of Nakata's 'Ring' films, but 'Dark Water' is a great film, even if it is not really the horror film it is made out to be.

Now back to my comment in the opening paragraph: For those who don't know, one tradition in Japan is for people to leave their shoes in the hallway when entering a household. I noticed several times that even though Yoshimi was running around in terror, she made to sure to put her shoes on, or take them off. "Why is this important?", you may ask. Well, it made no difference in 'Dark Water', but what about the poor souls trapped in 'Wild Zero' or 'Wizard of Darkness' who are definitely going to be caught doing the shoe thing?

'Dark Water' is a great movie - I even feel that I should not debase such a fine movie with my style of review, but I'm still perplexed by the whole shoe thing - 9/10
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more "Ring" worship garbage
Leland66618 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers

This film is absolute garbage as is almost all asian horror that has come out since The Ring! Essentially it's a pathetic attempt at a ghost story with absolutely no suspense, no character developement, poor child acting and it's anti climactic!!! Is there anyone left in the world with taste?! The Ring was a solid horror film with an interesting story and it was very well made. Since then a high volume of absolutely terrible junk has been vomited forth at a frightening pace. If there is anyone out there that agrees, let me give you a few suggestions for "real" horror films: Cronos, Habit, Nang Nak, Jeepers Creepers and Frailty. I'm not saying that any of these (except Frailty) are masterpieces, but at least you'll get a solid horror experience and will not be disappointed or want to throw something at your television!! I hope this trend will not continue and I can only hope that some of you agree. Use Dark Water for firewood!!
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I want my life back.
blackmariah27 June 2005
Okay, look, I like slow creepy horror movies as much as anyone... but this movie was just HORRIBLE.

Here's a spoiler...

Oh, wait a minute... There are no spoilers, because ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENS. NOTHING. AT ALL. At least Ju-On and Ringu had a good story somewhere in there, but this movie is flat nonsensical. The pacing is bad, the acting isn't all that great, and there's just nothing of interest anywhere to be found in this movie.

Really, if you want something creepy, check out Suicide Circle. If you want a good Japanese movie, watch Zatoichi. Just don't bother with this movie.
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Nakata's leaky roof has hidden depths.
MilesPieri25 April 2005
'Dark Water'(Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara) is Nakata Hideo's follow-up to his internationally acclaimed Ringu and Ringu 2. Yes, it's another horror movie and it's also based on a story by Suzuki Koji who wrote the Ringu cycle of novels. Both in style and theme Dark Water is remarkably similar to the previous movies. There's a little girl, her face obscured by long black hair, there's an obsession with water (In Ringu it was the ocean and, of course, the 'Well'. Here's it's leaking pipes and the mysterious Well-like water tower on the roof of heroine Hitomi Kuroki's apartment block.) Nakata also builds on the theme, present in Ringu (the movie but not the original novel) of a single mother determined to protect her child at all costs. In Ringu she was, ultimately, willing to sacrifice her own father. Here she's prepared to give up her sanity. The collapse of the nuclear family runs through all of these films but here it's given center stage and Nakata seems even more concerned with his theme than building up the atmosphere he did with the previous film. This is a character piece, it's more about terror than actually terrifying. Polanski's Repulsion comes to mind. This has the odd effect of making Dark Water strangely moving but not nearly as frightening as you know this director is capable of. The film gets it's tense, creep-out factor from seducing you into really caring about Yoshimi and her young daughter Ikuko (Another great Nakata-directed child performance from the cute Rio Kanno). The film also pilfers quite blatantly from Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now! with it's drowned Macintosh-clad ghost-child. Dark Water then, it's got nothing in it that'll mess with your nerves as much as that scene from Ringu but you'll never look at a leaky ceiling the same way and it's got the emotional resonance Nakata's earlier horror classic lacks.
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Where's the horror?
Jack_Slater9 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I loved "Ringu" and enjoyed "Ringu 2" but "Dark Water" pales in comparison to both movies.

The problem lies with the source material rather than with the direction IMHO. Nakata does manage to create a wonderful atmosphere but he's got very little to work with.

The story doesn't catch your imagination as well as "Ring" does. It's too simplistic, too linear and doesn't have enough of a shock value to really keep you gripped.

** Spoilers **

I really thought the bath-tub scene would rival the T.V. scene from "Ringu", ghost/child appearing out of it slowly, but it went the other way and missed an opportunity to really scare!

It's also *very* similar to "Ringu" in basic plot: dead child, watery grave, follow the clues to solve the mystery...

** End Spoilers **

Suzuki has been described as Japan's version of Stephen King, well in movie terms I suppose "Dark Water" could best described as "It" as opposed to "Misery".
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sill_bogdan27 July 2005
This movie ain't worth be seeing! It has been called a "ghost movie", "horror movie" by other users of IMDb.com , but the truth is I haven't seen any other movie which was so boring. After 70 min, nothing ever happened...just a mother and her daughter in an apartment in which sometimes water floods...nothing scary at all. The last 15 minutes the director wanted to be scary but he wasn't even close. I can't realize how could this movie be rated with 7.1 out of 10. It wasn't a horror movie, a drama, or any other kind of movie. It was just boring! Before I see a movie, I always read the comments which are made on this site but now I am really disappointed.
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One parent family horror
goldgreen3 August 2008
Like most horror films this plays upon our fear of the monster that might loom in our homes at night with its dark shades giving that 'look out! Its behind you' feel. However, this is more original. It not only scares us with the prospect of the monster, but it presents us with a far more real horror, that of a parent's fear of losing the ability to find enough money to look after their child, to house them properly, to be a good parent, to give them a decent life. This film plays upon the paranoid, insecure feeling that no one else in the world values your relationship and love for your child and that only you alone are going to battle it out. So, without giving away too much, this is a rare horror film that manages a weepy ending as well as a truly spine tingling, shiver my timbers ending too.
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