Sunday, July 10, 2005

Movies: Dark Water

Genre: Japanese-inspired horror
Verdict: &&&

Who'd get excited over another waterlogged, post-The Ring J-horror flick? Me, of course. After all, the original Japanese movie was director Hideo Nakata's next movie after Ringu, and the remake cast (Jennifer Connelly, Tim Roth, Camryn Manheim, Pete Postlethwaite) is as much as one can hope for in this genre. The setting is certainly creepy -- a monolithic, cold, almost industrial-looking apartment building on New York's Roosevelt Island. Newly separated and desperate for affordable housing, Dahlia Williams (Connelly) moves here with her adorable daughter, Ceci (brilliantly played by young Ariel Gade), and things predictably begin to unravel. A leak causes a nasty stain on the ceiling of Ceci's bedroom, and she hears voices at night. What Dahlia believes to be her daughter's imaginary friend is, of course, something more. Water is inescapable, whether from the unending rain storm, gushing faucets or tears. As the leaking ceiling worsens, it becomes apparent that the apartment immediately above is the source of the water and Ceci's visitor. In a classic "don't go in there" moment, Dahlia knocks on the 10F door, which pops open. The terrors cause Dahlia to confront memories of her cruel mother, and the conflict with her husband, Ceci's erratic behavior and unresponsive landlord push her to the breaking point. The family relationships add a human dimension that is sorely lacking in many creepfests, but the tension never approaches Ring-like levels, and many will find the conclusion sorely indebted to the Ring movies. Its scares may be more of a semicircle than a full Ring, but it's an admirable attempt at smart horror.

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