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Review: Dark Water (Hideo Nakata, 2002)

In Scotland there’s a word we sometimes use to describe the wet and miserable weather we often get: dreich. I think this could be aptly used to describe Dark Water, and not in any negative way, it’s all the better for its dreich-ness.

Dark Water is a Japanese horror film, a world away from the wet and grey landscape of Scotland, directed by J-Horror stalwart Hideo Nakata (who also made Ringu and Ringu 2). It is the story of divorced mother Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki), who moves into a shabby and decaying apartment building with her young daughter Ikuko. The building is plagued with damp, and in the apartment there is a leak in the ceiling that just gets worse and worse. Strange things begin to happen, all revolving around water, the apartment above, and a little girl named Mitsuko.

I haven’t been this creeped out watching a film in quite a while. I really enjoyed this. Maybe enjoy isn’t the right word, but it was great nonetheless. It literally made the hairs on my arms stand on end multiple times throughout the film. There’s a pervasive feeling of dread running right through it.

The atmosphere was perfectly judged. Sombre, dreary, muted and sorrowful. The pace is slow but deliberate, the chills restrained but powerful. I’m going back-and-forth on the ending, but I’m pretty sure I’ve landed on liking that, as well.

I have to say though, the song that played during the end credits seemed strangely ill-fitting… Nonetheless, it’s a film I would recommend to any lovers of horror looking for something creepy.


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