A Review by Noah Antwiler
Dark Water came highly recommended to me shortly after the success of the American release of The Ring, a remake of the Japanese film Ringu. The Ring has started a sort of fad among American studios as they seek to desperately rip off any Asian horror franchise that's shown any measure of success. Already we've seen a remake of Ju-On: The Grudge with Buffy, and remakes of The Eye and Dark Water are on the horizon.
Created by the director of Ringu and The Ring 2, Hideo Nakata, and written by the same author of The Ring, Dark Water is only a horror in the sense that it's frightening that a movie this boring could ever be made. Slow, plodding, uninteresting, and completely devoid of scares, this film is a liquid cure for insomnia. The pacing is dreadfully slow, and when I say slow, I mean that even M. Night Shyamalan would be shouting "GET ON WITH IT" about ten minutes into the picture.
In Dark Water, single mother Yoshimi and her daughter Ikuko are just starting off on their new lives, and purchase a run-down, but spacious apartment. It's built on a Hellmouth, so rents are reasonable. No sooner do they unpack the Most Honorable U-Haul when...well, not much happens. A Hello Kitty-style bag that belongs to a child keeps reappearing around the building, no matter how many times Yoshimi tries to get rid of it. And most shocking of all, her ceiling is leaking water.
That's how the first hour of the movie progresses. Yoshimi sees the red bag, gets peeved, throws it away. She looks up and sees water leaking from the ceiling, gets peeved, and complains to the manager. The next day, the bag shows up somewhere else, Yoshimi gets freaked out, throws it away, and the leaking water is worse. It's a very, very slow burn to any kind of climax when Yoshimi finally puts the pieces together as to what's going on with the water upstairs, and she can finally confront the supernatural shitstorm that awaits her.
You already know what it is. I won't insult your intelligence by pretending it's anything other than a facially-obscured little girl. Worse, it's the same KIND of little girl that became a ghost because she drowned. In essence, Dark Water is a complete ripoff of Ringu down to the precise nature of the ghost itself. Only Ringu is a lot better, because as I said, in Dark Water NOTHING happens. The ghost really has no powers other than appearing in your peripheral vision, making footstep noises, and spraying nasty water with hair in it out of your faucets. As such, there's not even a body count in this movie. No reason to be scared of the ghost, as all it really can do to you is cause property damage unless you're stupid.
Yoshimi and Ikuko are, of course, terribly terribly stupid.
When the walls start seeping and bulging with foulness, screams echo through your pipes, and your bathtub is filling with stank water...just run away from the fucking bathtub, right? But no, we have to look into the nasty tub so the ghost can leap out and drown us, don't we?
And that's it. The ghost doesn't really kill anybody. Doesn't really scare anybody except Yoshimi, who's already a high-strung gal because of the divorce. Anyone with a brain in their head could figure out a plot hole the size of Osaka once you learn where the ghost-girl drowned, because if she was left to rot in the building's water tanks everyone in the building would be violently ill and possibly die from bacterial poisoning.
So remember, before you die, you flush the toilet.