Friday, July 08, 2005

Dark Water

Dark Water (Director: Walter Salles)

Salles directed last year's foreign hit The Motorcycle Diaries. This is a remake of the Japanese horror flick Honogurai mizu no soko kara, from director Hideo Nakata and author Koji Suzuki, the men behind Ringu, later The Ring and sequels. Adapted by Rafael Yglesias, whose last writing job was From Hell.

It seems like every horror movie this year has begun with some sort of window into the past, and looking at this year's abundant horror slate I realize that I'm not wrong. We see some tragic event or pieces of some sort of history that will later figure into the outcome of the movie. In a movie like this, the outcome is everything.

Dahlia (the always pleasing-to-the-eyes Jennifer Connelly) is a mother separated from her husband, and an ugly custody battle is about to take place concerning her daughter Cecilia (Ariel Gade). The two are moving into a Roosevelt Island complex close to New York City, close to a great school. It is apparent, though, that the apartment has a lot of problems, not the least of which is a leak coming from the ceiling. Mysterious characters around the building, including landlord Mr. Murray (John C. Reilly) and maintenence man Veeck (Pete Postlethwaite) seem to be very reluctant to fix this problem. Of course, the water is so much more than just a leak.

Where this movie shines is in the opening, where Salles takes us through the building and shows how claustrophobic everything is, how dismal the living conditions are, how even if you were to escape the complex walls, you're still on an island. The buildup of this movie is very good; so good that it may have handicapped its ending, which is so decidedly simple that the events before it lose a lot of value. The filmmakers can be applauded for not trying for the wicked twist ending here, but there certainly should have been a little more kick. The film is filled with many of those recent Japanese horror staples--family troubles, fear of water, freaky elevators--at least no one walks like a video tape come to life with frames missing and sped up to look all scary.

Jennifer Connelly is great. Her performance is a standout; a rare kind of Oscar-caliber acting job in a genre filled with actors who don't even try. I say Oscar-caliber knowing full well that there's not a chance she'll be nominated here, but believe me, if I had to pick a major reason to watch this, it's her. Too bad the movie doesn't pay off, but that's the story of 2005.


At 7/08/2005 10:03:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I just saw the Japanese version the other day, and while not exceptional it is pretty damn creepy. It too has a pretty simple downbeat ending that was a tad dissapointing, so it seems the American remake might have followed this one to a tee. But if there just going to remake these things scene for scene I still bode the question why not release the original Japanese versions instead. There already made, the only money they have to spend is buying them and then dubbing them if they choose to. And you know what, if the damn things are scary, people will go see them.


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