Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Dark Water (Unrated Widescreen Edition)

Reviewed by: Joshua Starnes and Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: Unrated

Starring:
Jennifer Connelly as Dahlia
John C. Reilly as Mr. Murray
Tim Roth as Jeff Platzer
Dougray Scott as Kyle
Pete Postlethwaite as Veeck
Camryn Manheim as Teacher
Ariel Gade as Ceci
Perla Haney-Jardine as Natasha/Young Dahlia

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes

"The Sound Of Terror: The Subliminal Soundscapes Of Dark Water" — Featurette on the movie's sound design

Analyzing Dark Water Sequences — Explore the creation of specific scenes with viewing options

"Beneath The Surface: The Making Of Dark Water" Featurette

"An Extraordinary Ensemble" Featurette

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 103 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Far more terrifying than what was seen in theaters, this special unrated version of Dark Water is a thoroughly absorbing, suspense-filled thriller starring Jennifer Connelly. Dahlia Williams (Connelly) and her 5-year-old daughter are ready to begin a new life together. But their new apartment — dilapidated and worn — suddenly seems to take on a life of its own. Mysterious noises, persistent leaks of dark water, and other strange happenings in the deserted apartment above send Dahlia on a haunting and mystifying pursuit — one that unleashes a torrent of living nightmares.”

This is the unrated version of Dark Water, but the theatrical version is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, frightening sequences, disturbing images and brief language.

The Movie:
This is the unrated version of Dark Water. I didn't see the theatrical version, so I can't tell you how they compare. But Josh Starnes' review of the theatrical release pretty much echoes my sentiments:

The latest in the trend of Japanese horror film remakes, Dark Water is a nicely moody, but slightly uninteresting film, though it benefits from a darkly intelligent ending that surprisingly draws itself out to its logical conclusion in a way that most genre films shy away from.

In the middle of a bitter divorce, Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) takes her daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade) away from the city to keep her away from her husband (Dougray Scott). Their new life soon turns into a nightmare as the ghost of a young girl (Perla Haney-Jardine) begins to force herself onto them.

Dark Water was adapted from a Hideo Nakata (Ringu, The Ring Two) and it contains several of his standard tropes: a restless child spirit, water as the moody element of the dead, the relationship between mother and child (and the sacrifices that relationship can entail). Director Walter Salles (Central Station, The Motorcycle Diaries) has crafted a film primarily interested in character and mood. Most of the plot is relegated to the last third, making the film itself often feel very slow.

The character work is excellent throughout, from Connelly's slow decent into madness, to the subtle textures applied to John C. Reilly's slimy apartment building owner and Tim Roth's earnest (and possibly homeless) lawyer. The supporting characters, in fact, are the most enjoyable part of the film, often more enjoyable than Connelly or Gade, each taking great advantage of their scenes to create real people in a short space of time. Salles and screenwriter Rafael Yglesias (From Hell) apply just enough nuance to simultaneously know and wonder who these people are. Roth in particular is a stand out.

Like the heroines of Nakata's other films, Connelly spends most of the movie exploring Dahlia's slide into desperation and madness, and she does it well. She doesn't get a lot of opportunities to show other sides of Dahlia, making her often less interesting than the people around her. The climax is the saving grace of the film, where it turns a corner most films of this genre won't, allowing the events of the film to reach their logical conclusion.

The darkness and slowness may drive audiences off, but Dark Water offers some very nice character performances for those willing to brave its depths.


To this I'll add that I thought the filmmakers did a nice job of making the ordinary terrifying. All great horror films do this. Psycho took showers and made them frightening. Dark Water takes apartments, elevators, and washing machines and makes them quite scary. The final result is certainly unsettling. The film also makes great use of sound. You hear ghost footsteps running through the house, whispers, and other haunting sounds. It's a great tool for creating suspense.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on the DVD:

Deleted Scenes – There are only two deleted scenes and they aren't much to speak of. One shows Connelly at the laundromat and she prematurely reveals one of the surprises of the ending. Another deleted scene shows Dougray Scott as Kyle and Ariel Gade as Ceci talking in a car. Like I said, it's nothing spectacular.

"The Sound Of Terror: The Subliminal Soundscapes Of Dark Water" – Just like the title says, this featurette is about the sound design on the film. From the ghost footsteps to the sounds of a migraine, all is revealed here.

Analyzing Dark Water Sequences – This feature gets a bit deeper into some of the key scenes from the film like the bathroom flooding sequence. It shows behind the scenes footage, explanation about the script, and more.

"Beneath The Surface: The Making Of Dark Water" Featurette – This series of featurettes highlight the script, the director, the production design, the location, and more. The cast and crew were pretty down on Roosevelt Island, much to the pleasure of people that live there, I'm sure. They also talk about adapting the Japanese novel.

"An Extraordinary Ensemble" Featurette – This featurette discusses the impressive cast for this film. It also gets into the notable crew, too.

The Bottom Line:
If you like ghost stories, Dark Water will interest you. Fans of The Ring, Jennifer Connelly, and the supporting actors will also want to check it out.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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