Hideo Nakata, 2002, Japan, 101 mins
Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Shigemitsu Ogi
Dark Water is directed by Hideo Nakata, who also made Ringu. Enough said really!! Just knowing this fact means that you will enter the cinema expecting to be shocked, terrified and disturbed before the film is over and indeed you will not be disappointed.
The similarities between this film and Nakata's 1998 masterpiece are obvious. They are both horror films, they both feature children as the key to the mystery, they both have excellent use of music. However, it is in the differences that Dark Water really finds its niche and sets it apart from Ringu.
While the earlier film is very much a supernatural affair with moments of humanity, Dark Water is a more human film flirting with some elements of the supernatural. The interplay between Yoshimi, as the mother and Ikuko, the little girl is central to the film's plot. Nakata uses terrifying moments of the supernatural to disturb and invade this relationship. By making the viewer emphasise and be familiar with the mother-daughter relationship, the increasingly frequent moments of horror become even more horrific still.
However the film is not without it's faults. It's at least ten minutes too long, with some sections dragging and feeling drawn out. Nakata also uses shock tactics on so many occasions that the viewer gets to the point where they are almost expected.
The ending though is sensational and really worth waiting for! A non-stop stream of shocks and brilliant images, coupled with Nakata's always excellent use of music. It quickly becomes clear that the film has, all this time, been leading up to this moment.
Dark Water may well be a horror film, but it is it's human story that comes across most effectively. Its slow pace might put some off, but you can guaranteed that that patience shall be rewarded at the end. Although the film cannot match Ringu's techniques in racketing up the tension, it is a worthy addition to Nakata's cannon. Now that he has proved that he can mix in humanity to his horror, there looks to be little that the director cannot handle genre wise. His next film will definitely be something to look out for.