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Dark Water


Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Hideo Nakata is at it again, doing what he does best -scaring the bejeezus out of people with his finely crafted, genuinely terrifying horror movies. First he gave us the phenomenon that was the Ring cycle, and now he’s given us Dark Water, another exploration of the familiar themes of loss, death, sacrifice, the plight of the abandoned child.  Oh yes, and don’t forget the ghost. And the scenes of pant-wetting horror that punctuate this eerie tale. This isn’t one for the weak of heart…

Yoshimi is a newly single mother, whose first step into the world is to set herself up in an apartment with her cute little daughter, in an attempt to rebuild her life. But all is most certainly not well within the ramshackle, decaying tenement block. There’s the fleeting visions caught in the elevator security camera, and the red bag that keeps popping up in unusual places. And there’s the matter of the perpetually leaking ceiling, and exactly where the water is coming from, given that the room above is both deserted and dry as a bone. Slowly the terrifying details emerge, and the presence that haunts the building begins to take a very keen interest in Yoshimi and her daughter.

As with Ring, the fear that permeates Dark Water is, for the most part, imbued in the unsettling ambience and vague feeling of oppressive dread throughout. Nakata is a master of unsettling his audience while keeping his cards close to his chest.  Of course, he also delights in paying off his viewers with one hell of a final shock, and in Dark Water he delivers admirably. You remember the ghost in the lift in the Eye? Well trust me; you ain’t seen nothing yet…

In this age of substandard Hollywood tripe like The Haunting and Ghost Ship, it’s an absolute pleasure to still be able to go to the cinema and be scared witless. And the fact that Nakata has the skill and compassion to add moving subtext to his terror film is testament to the man’s position as one of the foremost international purveyors of horror cinema. Dark Water is a superlative ghost story, an outstanding character study, and one of the best films to have been released this year. A must see.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)