Dark Water

on July 08, 2005 by Jordan Reed
A virtual melting pot of a movie, Buena Vista's "Dark Water" is an American remake of a Japanese flick -- itself based on a Japanese novel by Koji Suzuki -- and directed by Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles ("Central Station," "Motorcycle Diaries"). Unfortunately, his U.S. debut winds up a tepid startle-fest, with fairly run-of-the-mill scares that leave no lasting impression.

What starts out as a domestic drama quickly turns to horror as the recently separated Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) moves to project-like Roosevelt Island, just east of Manhattan, with her young daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade) in tow. As Dahlia and Ceci try to get settled, their leaky ceiling and the apartment above it slowly begin to reveal a tragedy that preceded their arrival. As tension mounts, "Ring"-esque plot details emerge -- which should come as no surprise, seeing as both "The Ring" and "Dark Water" are books penned by the same author -- and Dahlia risks losing not only her sanity, but Ceci as well.

Salles borrows from other far more effective films, glooming up Manhattan with near-constant rainfall a la David Fincher's "Seven" and spewing blood -- or a watered-down version of it -- similar to the elevator scene in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." He sufficiently creates an atmosphere of dread, but with little ingenuity or depth, and seems unconcerned with keeping his narrative cohesive or consistent. (Not unlike a few of the J-horror films that have made their weird way to American shores.)

Connelly is, as usual, lovely, but while devoid of the malevolence of her character in "House of Sand and Fog," her harrowing desperation hearkens back a bit too much to that role. Solid supporting work from the always appealing John C. Reilly and an unusually nebbishy Tim Roth add value, but not enough. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade and Dougray Scott. Directed by Walter Salles. Written by Rafael Yglesias. Produced by Bill Mechanic, Roy Lee and Doug Davison. A Buena Vista release. Horror/Thriller. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, frightening sequences, disturbing images and brief language. Running time: 104 min

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