"I'm not your mother"
Title: Honogurai mizu no soko kara
English Title: Dark Water
Director: Hideo Nakata
Writer: Koji Suzuki
Release Date: 19 January 2002 (Japan) / 6 June 2003 (UK)
Hitomi Kuroki - Yoshimi Matsubara
Rio Kanno - Ikuko (6 years old)
Asami Mizukawa - Ikuko (16 years old)
Fumiyo Kohinata - Kunio Hamada
Yoshimi and her young daughter Ikuko move into a new flat. Soon water starts dripping from their ceiling and strange things involving a red bag start happening. Ghostly apparitions and strange noises continue and everything starts going a bit crazy. Meanwhile Ikuko's father is trying to gain custody and the pressure of this and starting a new job starts to build on Yoshimi. As the film draws to an end, all is brought back to the disappearance of a young girl 2 years previously.
I think it would be foolish (if not impossible) to try to get through this writeup without mentioning Hideo Nakata's last big film. Yes, this is the follow up (at least in an international sense - Hideo released a couple of movies in between in Japan) to Ringu. This shouldn't really be relevant but, given that Ringu was pretty much responsible for kick starting Western appreciation of the whole Asian horror genre and (on a personal level) is still the scariest film I have ever seen, comparisons are unavoidable.
This film is not The Ring, and nor should it be. The similarities are obvious, but not at all grating, and the film stands up completely on its own. Unfortunately, it is also nowhere near as good as Hideo's breakthrough hit. It would be a lie to say that Dark Water isn't scary - there were genuinely creepy moments as well as jump-out-of-your-seat moments, but as with so many horror movies, the majority of them felt incredibly cheap. Hideo Nakata certainly hasn't forgotten how to use noise to build tension and also uses the hair-over-face trick again, both of which do leave you at least a little creeped out, but unlike in The Ring, you know exactly why.
The film is undeniably masterfully directed, the production values are superb and the characters believable. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said for their (and by their, I mean Yoshimi's) actions - there is lots of crazy shit going on in the apartment block and she's seeing ghosts and she stays there! She doesn't move out! This is explained by the fact that moving Ikuko again would strengthen her father's custody case, but it is simply not believable that when she wakes up finding her bed completely drenched and her daughter upstairs in an abandoned flat in which it appears to be raining, that she would actually stay there. Unless she happens to be insane.
Overall, if you're a fan of the genre and are not expecting another Ring, I would say Dark Water is probably just about worth your money. Otherwise steer clear, as you will most likely be disappointed.
p.s. If you have even a slight phobia of water or rain, DO NOT go to see this film.
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