(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)
Hideo Nakata is big, really big, at least among the Japanese-horror-film-remake cognoscenti. He directed Ringu and Ringu 2, remade over here as The Ring and The Ring 2 starring Naomi Watts. Nakata even directed The Ring 2. You'd think he'd bored with it by now but I guess it's a rush to direct a remake of your own movie. Why am I going on about this? Well, he also directed a film called Honogurai mizu no soko kara which has just been remade as Dark Water. I've never seen Ringu, Ringu 2, The Ring, The Ring 2, or even Honogurai mizu no soko kara. I hate horror movies. So why did I go see Dark Water? Two reasons. First, I'm on an island with exactly two movie screens and the other one was showing Wedding Crashers. Second, Jennifer Connelly. Ok, I'm willing to admit that, for me at least, Jennifer Connelly is a bigger draw than Hideo Nakata. Oh and there's a third reason. I really wanted to go to the movies that night. It's a good thing I went. This week we were down to one screen as The Dreamland went dark.
For whatever reason, I found myself watching Dark Water. It tells the story of a troubled woman (Jennifer Connelly) who is newly separated from her husband (Dougray Scott). The real horror of this story, as mentioned also in other reviews, is that she and her husband both have to look for housing outside Manhattan! He gets a place in Jersey City, and Connelly and her young daughter (Ariel Gade) move to Roosevelt Island. As the daughter says when they take the spooky tram ride, "This isn't the city." Anyway, they move into a spooky apartment building run by a creepy rental agent (John C. Reilly) and a spooky Super (Pete Postlethwaite). These two guys would have been enough to make me hightail it to Jersey City but then there wouldn't be much of a movie. No sooner are the mother and daughter settled in when spooky things start to happen. First of all there's this leak in the ceiling which leaks, you guessed it, Dark Water. Second, the daughter develops a not-so-imaginary friend (Perla Haney-Jardine) who spooks her teacher (Camryn Manheim). And if that isn't enough, the ex-husband starts legal proceedings to take custody of the child on the grounds that Connelly is nuts. After watching Dark Water for about 15 minutes, I would have testified for the ex-husband. Connelly's character is nuts! Anyway, she hires a lawyer (Tim Roth) who doesn't have an office and works out of his car. Then spooky things really start to happen as the leak and the imaginary friend get worse and worse. and it rains on Roosevelt Island all the time. Don't move there!
Not only is this a remake of a Japanese horror film with an Anglo-American cast but the director is Brazilian, Walter Salles who directed The Motorcycle Diaries last year. He's a good director and the cast is very strong, with Connelly who won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, and Reilly, Roth, and Postlethwaite who have all been nominated in the past. But I just couldn't accept the story. I need some slight shred of internal consistency and I didn't get it from Dark Water. First of all, the plot, even for a non-horror watcher like me, seems like it's been done to death if you will excuse the expression. For me, The Sixth Sense is the gold standard of this type of movie and Dark Water doesn't even come close. And even though Connelly's character comes pretty close to being my ideal woman: beautiful, depressed and crazy, it wasn't enough to keep me interested. The only character who is at all interesting is Tim Roth, who almost steals the film as the weird homeless lawyer. The film should have been about him! But, hey, I don't like this kind of movie so why listen to me.