Dark Water (2005)

Dark Water (2005)
  • Time: 105 min
  • Genre: Drama | Horror | Thriller
  • Director: Walter Salles
  • Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade, Tim Roth, John C. Reilly


Dahlia Williams and her daughter Cecelia move into a rundown apartment on New York’s Roosevelt Island. She is currently in the midst of divorce proceedings and the apartment, though near an excellent school for her daughter, is all she can afford. From the time she arrives, there are mysterious occurrences and there is a constant drip from the ceiling in the only bedroom. There are also noises coming from the apartment directly above hers, though it would appear to be vacant. Is the apartment haunted or is there a simpler explanation?

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  • Ghost stories are a very common occurrence throughout history. Whether the actual phenomenon was portrayed in a good light or not, most people who believe they saw one get weirded out. Seeing something that looks like the image of a long gone person or animal is kind of strange. In literature, a ghost exists because of not being laid to rest appropriately, a curse or something along those lines. For director Hideo Nakata who has made several Japanese horror films, many producers seem to like remaking his films. In 1998, Nakata released Ringu (1998), which would later become The Ring (2002). During that year, Nakata released another original film of his called Honogurai mizu no soko kara (2002); this would eventually become this film. For what is presented here, it is moderately entertaining but it is nowhere near as being a great ghost feature. However even with that said, it does provide a brief enjoyable deviation from the usual horror tropes.

    The story is about Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly), a mother going through a divorce with her husband Kyle (Dougray Scott) who are both trying to figure out who will have custody over their daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade). After a counseling session goes wrong between the parents, Dahlia moves with Ceci to a city further away from Kyle. There they settle in old apartment building owned by Mr. Murray (John C. Reilly) and managed handyman Mr. Veeck (Pete Postlethwaite). Upon picking their suite, Dahlia notices the ceiling to her bedroom is leaking water. Within a couple of days the leak becomes worse and Dahlia takes it upon herself to figure out what the problem is on the floor above. Unexpectedly, Dahlia comes into contact with a ghost that not only will make her situation more tense but also jeopardize her daughter’s life. The overall narrative penned by Rafael Yglesias (which was most likely just lifted from Nakata’s work) feels solid. However, looking deeper into the cracks reveals various continuity errors.

    The acting and characters work effectively in their designated roles. Both Jennifer Connelly and Dougray Scott are convincing as a troubled couple but also show their love for their daughter as well. Seriously though, poor Dahlia – she goes through so much throughout the running time. On top of that after Dahlia moves to the new city, she’s hit with a lawsuit by Kyle so she hires Jeff Platzer (Tim Roth) as her lawyer. Platzer probably shows her the most respect (other than Ceci). The duo of John C. Reilly and Pete Postlethwaite as the apartment managers demonstrates what happens when people don’t take care of the property. The best actor of the bunch goes to Ariel Gade. She’s the highlight of the feature just because how strong her character is at such an early age. How does one even deal with the events put onto them so well without cracking? It is also because of her innocent nature that she feels like the only one who doesn’t have such a dim outlook on life. The ghost is played by Perla Haney-Jardine and although she’s doesn’t shine as much as Gade, she is creepy.

    The continuity errors to the script belong to Haney-Jardine’s ghost role. Whenever the ghost is around, water begins to get pitch black and gross. However at first, it seems it’s only the water in the apartment. Yet when Ceci’s at school, the ghost can make the water dark there too – how? This brings in the other question. Most ghosts are bound by which the place they thrived as a human being. So why is it that she can move to the school but yet is bound only by the apartment? Not making sense here. Another good question that isn’t answered (non-continuity related) is where are all the tenants at Mr. Murray’s complex? Practically nobody shows his or her face. Does anyone live there and if they do where are they? The creep factor is definitely alive in this film though. Besides the fact that the rating is PG-13, there are a number of good scenes that just involve establishing shots of various places in Dahlia’s apartment suite. Plus with the fact that the whole apartment owned by Mr. Murray doesn’t look the best, it just adds to the uneasiness of what is being portrayed. Thankfully, there are not a lot of jump scares to this feature.

    The cinematography shot by Affonso Beato compliments a lot of the scenes dealing with the apartment and rain itself. Throughout the movie, it rains almost the whole time. It is rare that weather sets a tone for a movie but that’s what occurs here. The rain immediately does that with its consistency and gloomy grey atmosphere. Another thing to take note of is the lighting used per scene. Much of the colors in each scene have a drained yellowish look to them as if they lack actual life. It’s a nice touch. The film score composed by Angelo Badalamenti does its job too. Unlike his first effort in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), which consisted of a pure cheap sounding synth performance, this effort is far superior. Badalamenti has a much more organic sound and it uses minimal synth in the back for atmosphere. Actual piano, strings, harps and horns play the rest of the sound. There’s also a main theme for the film and it is beautifully tragic highlighted by solo piano keys. A much better listening experience.

    Its writing has some big plot holes that don’t make sense but it doesn’t drag the film down entirely. The characters are believable, the creepiness is there (without a ton a of jump scares), the camerawork matches the mood of the story and the music is hauntingly memorable.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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