Story is muddy in ‘Dark Water’

The 2002 remake of “The Ring” brought the sensibility of Japanese

Horror, or J-Horror, to American cinemas. Most of these (very)

Japanese horror films revolved around deadly ghosts, often children,

seeking revenge, or murderous understanding of their plight, from


beyond the grave.

While these films don’t often make complete sense, they do pay off

with enough scares to make its audience question what exactly does go

bump in the night. The latest to be remade for American audiences is


“Dark Water.”

Jennifer Connelly plays Dahlia, a young mother in the midst of a

very nasty divorce from her husband, Kyle (Dougray Scott). She and

her daughter, Ceci (Ariel Gade) are searching for a new place to live

when they discover an eerie apartment complex with just the right

asking price across the river from New York City. Before they have

their boxes unpacked, things begin to get weird.

First, Ceci finds a “Hello Kitty” backpack left behind by an at


first unknown child, filled with just the right toys. Then, more

ominously, a dark water stain appears on the ceiling of their

apartment that, despite the efforts of many, refuses to go away.

Photographed in an elegant darkness, “Dark Water” is awash in the

J-Horror trademark of moody and atmospheric suspense wherein much, if

not all, is left to the imagination.

On the surface, it is a ghost story with the to be expected scenes

of disembodied voices and jarring noises, but in its depths this is


really a tale of psychological horror in the form of a modern

family’s dissolution.

The “Dark Water” of the title is literally a constant downpour of

rain that clogs up the city and floods Dahlia’s apartment; but,

metaphorically it is that of her dark tears that come to flow heavily

and often.

The film is saturated with the psychological pain of Dahlia’s

divorce and, perhaps more importantly, that of her past. “Dark

Water,” directed with self-assurance by Walter Salles, submerges the

audience under an encroaching creepiness that is liable to leave you

scratching your head in confusion, or irritation, about what exactly


* BOB HARRIS works in a Burbank real estate office where they

personally vouch that all apartments are ghost-free.