Dark Water (2005)

JANUARY 21, 2008


Yes, careful readers of the “Source” listing will notice that I can now add Blu-Ray to my ever expanding (and expensive) home theater options, via the PS3 (which I’ve owned for four days now and have yet to play a game). I have had HD DVD for a year or so, but the increasing lack of studio support isn’t exactly promising, so now I have both just in case. And my inaugural Blu Ray viewing? No, not fucking Dark Water, Christ. Before I even actually bought the player I stopped by a used DVD store and picked up, naturally, the Blu-Ray of Halloween. I’ll talk more about that once I get this Dark Water review out of the way.

As is almost always the case with these movies, I did not see the original first (I think The Eye and/or Tale of Two Sisters will be the first time I watch the remakes AFTER seeing the original). But the differences seem very minute, so I probably won’t bother. Why? Well, the movie isn’t very good, and it’s far from interesting. Yes, once again, a little girl is dead, and her body has been left to rot somewhere far from a cemetery (is ANYONE in the Asian community buried properly???). Naturally, this leads her ghost to come wreak havoc. But unlike the 17 million other movies of this nature, this ghost doesn’t really do anything terrifying. Her power seems limited to... turning the water on, resulting in flooded apartments.

I’m not exaggerating. Literally NOTHING fucking happens in this movie other than plumbing issues. At least the movie delivers on the promise of its title, but for the love of Jebus, can we at least get someone dying of fright in the bathroom or something? No? OK. Instead, we also get lots of scenes that attempt to make us think that perhaps Jennifer Connelly is just imagining things. Well that’s all well and good, but imagining WHAT, exactly? We know the plumbing problems are real because other characters see them, and nothing else happens. Some kids who live in the same building occasionally make lewd comments to her, but that’s hardly the stuff of scariness. It’s Jennifer Connelly for Christ’s sake, who WOULDN’T ogle her???

The cast is so good you gotta wonder what the hell they all signed on for in the first place. Connelly makes sense – she won an Oscar, therefore she must do a shitty horror movie. But John C Reilly, Tim Roth, and Pete Postlethwaite usually have better options, and even if the movie delivered on the horror, they’d mostly be wasted anyway. The only sort-of exception is Roth, who plays the nicest lawyer in film history. He goes out of his way to help Connelly at every turn, and never even hits on her (despite lying and saying he has a family when he doesn’t; or at least, he doesn’t take them to the movies with him). I kept thinking that maybe if the movie WAS all in her head that maybe he was a figment of her imagination, but no. He’s just REALLY NICE.

Then again, there might be some post production shenanigans going on. For starters, Connelly is constantly on the phone talking to a woman we never actually see. These scenes are just a flurry of exposition, which suggests hasty reshoots; with Connelly providing info to the audience from scenes that were removed, done on the cheap without having to hire a new actress. Also, one of the few extra features is a 3 minute piece about the editing choices within a scene that isn’t actually in the film. OK.

So the movie’s not really worth your time, unless you’re a plumber and/or a resident of Roosevelt Island. Connelly looks good (even better in High Def!) but she looks good in movies that are also good, so just watch one of those.

Back to Halloween though: if you had any doubts about the validity of high definition, I can squash them. I’ve seen this movie probably 50 goddamn times and I noticed things I was never able to see before: the pom poms of the cheerleaders in the background when Lynda and Laurie leave school, Michael’s face in the car as he drives past them a few minutes later, etc. Obviously none of these things actually improve the film itself, but just the fact that these pointless little details are now crystal clear should give you an idea of how much better the stuff that IS important will now look. Of course, if you’re the type of person who uses the red and yellow cables that come with your AV components to watch stuff, you won’t care. But for the rest of you, trust me: it’s worth the cost, so long as you’re watching something besides Dark Water.

What say you?


  1. I saw both but watched the original first, and I have to say, I found them to be quite different animals. The original version has some cool stuff at the end that I don't think was in the American version, and a lot more is left unexplained so you get that disorienting not-sure-what's -happening feeling that is either the trademark of Asian spook films or a result of a Westerner watching a movie from a culture he's unfamiliar with. Anyway, I remember the ghost being much more sinister and vengeful in the original, and the ending packing more of a wallop, the mother's sacrifice not seeming out of nowhere, the mother's mental state much better realized.

    But I imagine that having seen the spoon-fed American version first, it might actually hamper your enjoyment of the original now. So great, it's ruined for you.

    At least you watched Tale of Two Sisters the right way. :) I really, really like that movie.

  2. Maybe I'll check out the original someday... in a few years I'll probably forget what happened in this one anyway :)

  3. It.. shows how flukey Hollywood is - major score with the Ringy series... major dude with this.


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