Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Hitomi Kuroki
Rio Kanno
Asami Mizukawa
Mirei Oguchi
Koji Suzuki.
Directors
Hideo Nakata.
Screenwriters
Hideo Nakata.
Running Time
101 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Dark Water
Creepy haunted house suspense from the maker of the Japanese horror success Ring


submit to reddit


Plot
Aiming to make a new start, single mother Yoshimi and her young daughter Ikuko move into a new apartment in a run-down part of town. Their harmony is soon disrupted by strange goings on, especially a nasty water stain on the ceiling that seems to grow every day. Then a small child keeps appearing.


Review

While still working his icy chills in his homeland of Japan — he’s now installed in Hollywood remaking his own work — Hideo Nakata directed a series of effective, idiosyncratic ghostly tales that positioned the horror genre away from the glare of schlock. His notion of fear is a slow creep, a stain on the ceiling, the blur of a video image, the insidious tremor caused by a momentary image of a small Japanese child with lank hair and dead eyes. In this style, his most famous films, Ring and Ring 2, might as well have been squealing up Elm Street way compared to the subtle strains of this ghost story that uses reticence, a flat refusal to fully expose its evil schemes, to invoke a very redolent fear.

Thus you have one of the slowest, and often most infuriating, horror movies ever made. Dark Water, as its names suggests, works most of its dread through the expanding image of an iron-brown water stain, and the unending drip-dripping of its torment. The ethereal backstory here tells of a missing girl (a staple of Japanese horror) in ghost form haunting the scene of her downfall in search of a new mother, and Yoshimi, with her own child, fits the bill. In the meantime she’ll ‘make friends’ with little Ikuko.

Nakata, however, keeps the supernatural shards of his story at one remove, allowing them to glimmer sullenly in the background — repeated glimpses of this spooky kid — building a small soap opera in the foreground. We learn Yoshimi (played with dancing nerves by Hitomi Kuroki) has escaped from a brutal marriage, leaving her frayed and open to suggestion; one being that her paranoia over this strange vision of a girl is being manipulated by her ex-husband aiming to regain custody of their daughter. The film, at this stage, never fully commits to the outright alien, allowing Nakata to insinuate it could all in her head, the mucky glower of that stain representing the state of her mind.

Things do tip finally in the direction of genuine weirdness, if not toward an ending that will wholly explains itself, but the impression lasts, proving that oft-regaled saw in horror parts that less is so often more. Especially when it comes to the itchy terror of pre-pubescent Japanese children.


Verdict
Not nearly as clever as Ringu, Dark Water is an honest, old-fashioned ghost story with plenty to chill the marrow and make you vow never to take the lift again.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Dark Water
Empire Star Rating

like ring very creepy ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 09:52, 25 October 2007 | Report This Post


like ring very creepy ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 09:52, 25 October 2007 | Report This Post


Very Enjoyable

I liked this film much better than Ringu. I wasn't sure exactly how the end would come together and found the ending truly sad. It has a few slightly jumpy moments, but plays more on your compassion for the mother and her adorable little girl. You can't help but feel sympathy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lulu karma at 21:52, 30 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Shat my pants!

This was pants from start to finish. Slow, predictable and very unfullfilling. ... More

Posted by Newander at 08:19, 23 January 2006 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Review Of The Year: 10 Best Soundtracks Of 2014
The scores and OSTs to add to your playlist

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Review Of 2014: The 15 Best Cameos Of The Year
Our favourite one-scene movie-stealers

8 Things You Can Learn From The BFI's Star Wars Exhibition
The original crawl, a 'grotesque' villain and a very different princess

Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)