- RELEASE DATE: Available Now on Blu-ray/DVD (Click Here to Purchase a Copy)
- WRITTEN BY: Kôji Suzuki, Ken’ichi Suzuki, Yoshihiro Nakamura
- DIRECTED BY: Hideo Nakata
- STARRING: Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi
-Reviewed by Shane Migliavacca
Back before Hollywood was cannibalizing its own fright flicks with for its remake/reboot madness it was giving the same treatment to the horror films of Japan (due to the mega success of RINGU and the genre film renaissance that followed in its wake). It seemed like for a time you couldn’t turn around in the horror section of your local video store without coming face to face with some long haired ghost girl. One such movie that got “the treatment” from Hollywood was DARK WATER; the original version of which is the subject of this very review!
Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is in the midst of some KRAMER VS. KRAMER action with her prize-winning dick of an ex-husband. With no job she moves to a run-down apartment with her daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). Before long, mysterious stuff starts going down; a red book bag with a bunny on the front keeps reappearing no matter how often Yoshimi chucks it out and she catches glimpses of a strange long-haired girl in a rain slicker around the building. Add to that business, the apartment’s ceiling has a leak that worsens day by day, which Yoshimi discovers is caused by the apartment upstairs which was home to a girl who was abandoned by her mother and went missing over a year ago. Soon the ghost girl is stalking Ikuko, but what does she want?
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into DARK WATER; I’d seen the remake years ago and wasn’t really impressed. Well as usual the original is the way to go. The story without the ghostly shenanigans; newly divorced woman forced to live in a shitty apartment and get a job while trying to care for a young daughter while trying to win custody of her, sounds like a Reese Witherspoon movie waiting to happen…but what DARK WATER does beautifully is take this mundane plot and add the creep factor without it detracting from the drama. Yoshimi is trying to do something so many single parents have had to and still have to do; provide for her daughter the best she can all the while trying to be there for her. She’s no superwoman, she fails…a lot, and it’s incredibly relatable. It’s the combination of this drama and the horror biz that makes the ghostly goings on all the more scary. When all the supernatural antics makes it look like you’re an unfit parent and you have no power to stop it, that’s scarier than a vampire or zombie.
Along with the excellent feature, we get a (water soaked) apartment full of extras here: new interviews with director Hideo Nakata, novelist Koji Suzuki and cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi, an archive interview with actress Asami Mizukawa, a “Making of” documentary, TV spots and a trailer.
I really liked my dip in DARK WATER; it’s slow burn, sorrowful ghost story dealing with abandonment and loss that manages to balance humanity with the hauntings. Highly recommended.