Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, frightening sequences, disturbing images and brief language.
Directed By: Walter Salles
Written By: Hideo Nakata
Staring: Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, Camryn Manheim, and Ariel Gade as Cecilia ‘Ceci’ Williams
If you ever need me, I’ll be right here. -Dahlia
I read a review of this at Japan Cinema awhile ago and something about it (possibly Jennifer Connelly) drew me to it. Now that I’ve seen it, I can see it focused on the eerie mood the film created, but also the fact that this film was not a jump out and scare you flick, or a slasher. It was a thinking ghost story that relied on the imagination rather than gimmicks or obvious cliches to get to you. I’m finally starting to really watch some scary movies in preparation for Halloween,and I was more impressed with Dark Water than disappointed.
Dahlia is going threw a divorce, and being a middle income couple is forced to move into a low rent apartment in the not so nice part of town. Dealing with the trauma of the divorce, trying to support her daughter Ceci , and win what is turning into a vicious custody battle, the last thing Dahlia is prepared for is a stroll into the world of the supernatural. While her mental capacity is breaking down, so is her reality surrounding her.
If you aren’t ready for dark or scary, you’ll get sucked in slowly enough that you aren’t even truly aware of what is unfolding. Most of the events that are unveiled, do so at a very natural pace so that you don’t really question Dahlia’s motives. She’s desperate and working through an incredibly trying time. To move into a slum-type apartment and deal with the consequences of living in that environment was an obvious choice, but also a realistic one. So, we aren’t feeling tricked or coerced into believing why Dahlia won’t leave, and that for me, was the most important aspect.
Some things with the movie didn’t work though. As eerie was the film was, it never crossed from spooky to scary, and I’m okay with that in general but you could feel that it was trying to especially at the end. The dark lighting and almost film noir feel worked most of the time, but there were definitely moments that could have put you to sleep. I generally enjoy slow pacing and a story that lets things progress naturally, but in Dark Water’s case I wouldn’t have complained for a few more “shock” moments here and there, or maybe more interaction with the ex-husband. Also Dahlia’s flashbacks could easily have been confused with visions or ghostly images, and so those moments were filled with the wrong kind of apprehension.
The story itself was smart with real characters by some really tremendous acting. Jennifer Connelly is so good at whatever she does, but in this case she really brought Dahlia to life. She wasn’t a tool that was used as a pawn for the story to move, instead it revolved around Dahlia and her daughter. Ariel Gade, the girl who played Dahlia’s daughter Ceci, was remarkable. She was the perfect compliment to Connelly and even looked distinctly like her. It was a good pairing and their relationship really helped keep things intriguing when the movie faltered elsewhere.
Dark Water was a pretty competent ghost movie. It’s not something that’s going to blow your mind, shock you, or bring anything incredibly new to the table, but it was enjoyable and entertaining, and definitely worth viewing for fans of Jennifer Connelly or ghost movies. Thanks Japan Cinema, as slow as I am, I do occasionally get around to watching some of the movies you review.