There is a certain risk in buying movies you have not seen, let alone read any reviews about. This is the case with Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water, which is one of the best Japanese horror films I have ever seen, and is almost scarier and more suspenseful then Nakata’s The Ring.
As a recently divorced mother Yoshimi has moved into a new apartment with her daughter Ikuku. While adjusting to their new environment, Ikuku is put into a new kindergarten. On the ceiling of their new run down apartment there is a damp water spot, but Yoshimi just assumes that it’s from the torrential rainstorm that is going on. Soon the water spot becomes darker, and damper and starts to drip. Yoshimi also hears about a lost girl, and finds out that this girl once lived in the apartment above her, and went to the same kindergarten where Ikuku is going.
There was kind of a haunting resemblance to The Ring but only in the sense that Yoshimi is a struggling single mother trying to work out business and family life. There were several instances in the film where you wonder why didn’t they change the script. It’s from the acclaimed Japanese horror writer Koji Suzuki, who is hailed as the Japanese Stephen King. Even with these similarities, there are very little flaws with the film. The only main flaw with the film is that the ending doesn’t really explain much.
There is a large amount of dread in the film, mostly because of the amount of water used. It is kind of like the blood spewing out of the elevators in The Shinning. You know that it’s there, and you know what it is, but you just can’t help but be fixated on it. Every time that there is a little bit of hope a feeling of terror swallows it up. Along with the terror, the setting of the film, a cramped, disgusting apartment building gives a character of it’s own, again like The Shining.
All in all, this is one of the best Japanese horror films, and one of the best horror films of 2002. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The Ring or The Ring 2. I can’t wait to see what Hideo brings American viewers next.