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
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
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
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.