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3.8 out of 5 stars75
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 11 March 2015
A good movie for me is the one I don't forget immediately after it is over. I read the story and it was very good too, but the movie added a darker twist to it. Actors are excellent with superb performance from Hitomi Kuroki. It is really all centred around her.

This horror is as far away from the usual gory chopped heads and zombies as possible. Nor this is your average ghost story where a ritual of finding the body and giving it a proper burial solves the problem.

Japanese ghosts are vengeful and mean and there is nothing nice about them. Even if someone was a cute neglected little girl before death.

A young mother goes through an ugly divorce and is forced to move to an old crumbly building with her four year-old daughter. There she discovers strange pools of water appearing regularly, and somehow it is all related to a disappearance of a little girl some time before.

The emotions and tensions grow very gradually until the final episodes with several pretty scary moments and the mother's ultimate solution to her own daughter's protection. It is not a happy ending movie but neither it is an "evil rules forever" story. Somehow it is very Japanese with subtle meanings running parallel to the visible developments of the tale.

It made me thinking beyond the odd 136 min the film lasted about the implications of one's actions and the effect a parental neglect can have on lives of people totally unrelated to the family. Like ripples in the pool of water after something falls in.
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on 3 October 2003
Hideo Nakato (Ring series) is a genius who manages to make proper sinister spooky horror that doesn't rely on gore or jump moments. His tools are music, lighting and long camera shots down dark corridors, and all give the sense that *this* creeping evil is particularly malevolent. Its classic horror that plays on primordial human fear.
The story centres around a mother struggling to make a new life for herself and her daughter amidst a messy divorce. The strangeness begins when they move to a new part of the city, a new school and a new apartment with a perpetually leaky ceiling! I won't give any more of the story away than that, suffice to say I couldn't walk past so much as a puddle after viewing it without wanting to run screaming down dark ill advised alleyways.
If you enjoyed Ring you most certainly won't be disappointed by this. A definite must.
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In this 2002 Japanese supernatural suspense [with English subtitles] Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) moves to a run-down apartment with her 5 year old daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno) whilst in the middle of a custody battle. Amidst all her problems she’s trying to find work, but then there’s that leak in the ceiling and a mysterious red childrens bag that keeps reappearing, but with a history of psychological therapy, is she imagining things or is there something more sinister at work?
From the outset, this has very atmospheric backing music and a suitably eerie tower block, but although the it has some tense opening scenes, soon settles back into a more relaxed mode and Mother and daughter gradually reveal the back story. This isn’t an ‘in your face’ jump out scary movie, although there are some very tense moments, it’s much more about creating an atmosphere of uncertainty. The acting is good, with the young Rio Kanno putting in a fantastic performance considering the range of emotions she portrays.
The single disc offers play, scene selection, set up [2.0 default, 5.1 surround, DTs surround 5.1 and English subtitles on/off] original trailer and Asia Extremes trailers reel. This is a 15 rating that has no nudity, sex or swearing, relying on the atmosphere, sound effects and plot to provide tension throughout. The end sequence is a good touch, but I felt the final few scenes could have been omitted to end it on a high, rather than a seeming anti-climax. Never-the-less, a very good ***** movie the was remade in 2005 and set in the USA.
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on 27 April 2015
I thought Dark Water was an excellent, atmospheric film, the suspense and creepiness building into a toe-curling, really scary ending. I found the ending quite emotional to be honest and really felt for the two main characters - mother and daughter - and would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a stylish and genuinely well-acted storyline. Japanese, Chinese and Korean thriller and horror films I'm finding that I'm enjoying them very much lately and this one is fantastic. The water is indeed dark and in one scene, it's extremely dark in more ways than one, eek!
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VINE VOICEon 29 May 2004
Nakata (mastermind behind the highly popular Ring films) returns to Japanese cinema screens with this, his eagerly awaited follow-up. Many people in the West have felt hugely let down by it, sadly. I warn you, it has none of the atmosphere of Ring: the gut-wreching terror of those films' set pieces like Sadako crawling up the inside of the well etc. is missing. Until the last ten minutes you will not see anything that will make you very scared. But asking to be scared in the same way as in Ring would be to miss the point of Nakata's slow build-up of eerieness and the way he messes with your understanding of reality.
The central character is a divorced woman who is trying to prove that she is a fit mother for her child. The film heartbreakingly portrays her sadness and frustration when she comes to realise that being a loving parent doesn't necessarily make you a good one. She is also rather disturbed, and Nakata plays around with reality by showing things almost entirely from her perspective,
so you find it difficult to tell when things are actually scary and when she's just overreacting. She screams a lot and there is much sinister music, but you will sometimes find it hard to work out what's scary... at least for the first part of the film. The other characters give welcome relief, and there is a deliberate anti-climactic effect when you see things through their eyes, because everything is normal. The leak in the roof is just caused by a tap left on in the apartment above, and they even discuss how long it has been adding to the residents' water bill. This comically undermines all of the tension that has so far been built up, and the viewer ends up suspecting that it really is all in her head. Even her daughter doesn't seem to find anything scary about the schoolbag. Dark Water plays with your expectations of horror, and proves that terror is all in the mind.
Yes, the remeniscences of Ring are very strong indeed. But that's how Japanese sequels usually work - they continue the same theme instead of the same characters from the original. Nakata knows the whole of Japan has seen Ring and internalised it and so he's not trying to rip himself off. He is, however, creating a ghostly echo of Ring within Dark Water to evoke creepy half-memories in his audience.
Finally, I myself find this a very interesting film. It is not shocking or scary in the way that conventional horror is, but it makes my skin crawl in a way no other film has ever done. There is very little seen or spoken that is actually frightening but nonetheless it is a very chilling film indeed if you read between the scenes.
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on 25 November 2005
this was the first Japanese horror film i ever saw...
i've noticed since, with films such as Ring (and the sequal and prequal)that the Japanese generally do horror VERY differently to the west...nowhere is it more apparrent than this masterpiece.
where western horror movies rely on "orgasm entertainment" and in-your-face frights, Dark Water builds the tension very slowly, with the ominous reappearing figure, the schoolbag, and the water tank, all building a tense, confused apprehension throughout the film, and the last 30-40 minutes are probably the most terrifying i've ever seen. ever.
if you like the edge of your seat to be well-worn and slightly stained, this movie is DEFINATELY for you.
i would reccomend to to anyone, especially people who "don't like horror movies"
they've remade it in American now. Taking the disgusting slop that was "The Ring" i'm not going to waste my time with it.
sacreliege, if you ask me!
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on 10 February 2015
While Ringu was a watershed in Hideo Nakata's directing career, and brought Japanese filmmaking to wider western audiences, Dark Water is a masterpiece of maturity. You'll see Dark Water pigeonholed in the horror genre, and it has its chills, but typical of Japanese horror, tension is built through eerie atmospherics, juxtaposition of the mundane with the supernatural, and identification with the main characters and their increasingly unfortunate destinies. No shock and gore tactics here.

Yoshimi is a recently divorced single mother. Having secured a job as an editor, she is struggling to prove she has the means and mentality to keep custody of her daughter Ikuko. Throwing herself into work, she begins to unintentionally neglect her daughter, just as she herself was neglected. A recurring image in the film is of a little girl waiting sadly in the rain after class. Soon after moving into their rundown apartment, Yoshimi and Ikuko notice a leak from the ceiling that becomes ominously larger, despite no one occupying the premises above. A small red children's bag reappears around their apartment block, no matter how hard Yoshimi tries to dispose of it. Who or what is the spirit haunting them and how will they lay it to rest? With an eye for the suspenseful, mysterious and tragic, Nakata skillfully navigates the viewer through the everyday worlds of work and school, to the longing of a restless spirit seeking almost impossible resolution to an unfortunate fate.

Dark Water is ambitious in concept, epic in scope. It will leave you with goosebumps and may even provoke a tear, days or weeks later as you again remember the film's poignant conclusion. It didn't need an insipid Hollywood remake. It is a classic and its themes of enduring love, the modern fragmented family and the sacred feminine are universal.
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on 3 October 2003
This film is one of the best films (not just horror) to have come out of Japan. It is directed by Ring master, no not Sauron but Hideo Nakada and the author of Ring, Koji Suzuki. Both men combine (again) to produce a brilliant film. There are inevitably Ring influences but seeing how good that movie is, is that a bad thing? No, I think not. Have you not seen the film then here's a quick synopsis. Unfit Mother Yoshimi (she goes to the same school of bad parenting as Reiko!) fights for custody of her only child Ikuko, she moves in old apartment where there's a leak, things start to go funny as leak gets bigger plus there's an omnipresent red bag that keeps popping up. Ghost of a little girl starts appearing and making Ikuko isolate herself from friends and more importantly her Mother. Things get to a head and the ending has tearjerker all over it. Guys were in tears at the cinema it really does break your Heart. This adds evidence (as if we needed any more) to the debate that Japanese films are more emotionally binding with the viewer than pretentious American rubbish ever can be. One not to miss.
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on 15 March 2004
Have to agree with most reviews here - the best horror right now is coming from the far east; dark, disturbing & intelligent psycohlogical horror stories with a downbeat ending (Im a sucker for unhappy endings!). I made the mistake of watching this alone one night whilst my wife was at work, and have not been this unnerved by a film since I was about 14 (29 now) & saw the original evil dead. In fact thats probably the last time I had a nightmare after watching a horror film - until I saw this corker! Woke up at 4am in a cold sweat...not good. And no - I don't scare easily. IMHO more unsettling than ringu (though thoroughly enjoyed that film too, although the remake was a complete bastardisation - even thought the american version was going to cop out at one stage & drop the original ending for a cute & cuddly finish); my only complaint is charecter development of the missing girl - eg how her life ended at the place it did, and why she was so malevolent towards the protagonist compared with simply tragic? Saying that - I've only seen the film once so the clues may be in there..really do need to see it again. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 9 May 2005
Like most people, I watched this because of the standards set by the Ringu series (the original Japanese films as I haven't watched the US version yet). People will note several similarities with the Ringu story (centred on a mother/child relationship, a malevolent spirit in the form of a young girl, water) but I think Dark Water plays more on the mental damage caused by humans rather than a supernatural presence.
The story is of a mother and daughter who are forced by circumstance (of a nasty divorce including a custody battle over the daughter) to move into a rundown apartment building. Some of the mother's own background is revealed through flashbacks and facts revealed during the custody battle process which explains her more fragile mental state. Bizarre and disturbing things start to happen, mostly in the apartment building, and the mother is increasingly under pressure to protect her daughter from a menancing presence while still trying to maintain some semblance of sanity in order to retain custody of her daughter.
The film builds up quite slowly and the story behind the ghostly presence seems obvious quite early on in the film but the climax is still very watchable and although I found the ending confusing at first, after some thought, I found the implications as moving and disturbing as Sadako's fate in Ringu. The rather grey backdops in the film and the lack of people add to the feeling of isolation and fear. I would not put this film on a par with Ringu in terms of scare value but I certainly think it is worth a look - there is a very human story in there with the ghosts.
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