Dark Water movie review, Walter Salles, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'Dark Water'
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"Dark Water"
no stars
102 minutes | Rated: PG-13
WIDE: Friday, July 8, 2005
Directed by Walter Salles

Starring Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, Ariel Gade, Shelley Duvall, Jennifer Baxter, Camryn Manheim

  • Jennifer Connelly
  • John C. Reilly
  • Tim Roth
  • Dougray Scott
  • Pete Postlethwaite
  • Camryn Manheim

  • Japanese horror remakes:
    ('05) "The Ring 2"
    ('04) "The Grudge"
    ('02) "The Ring"

     LINKS for this film
    Official siteShowtimes
    at movies.yahoo.com
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    Yet another unrelentingly unpleasant Japanese-horror remake rife with clichés and contemptible exploitation

    By Rob Blackwelder

    I've just walked out in the middle of "Dark Water" after a noxious hour of prosaically PG-13, hackneyed horror-flick clichés.

    Torpid, trite and not the least bit scary -- just unrelentingly unpleasant -- the first 45 minutes of the movie only came to life in two scenes involving the messy divorce of miserable single mom Jennifer Connelly (proving Oscars don't bring talented actresses good roles). She subsequently moves into a drab, creepy cinderblock slum with her sad-eyed daughter (Ariel Gade), even though it's made very clear that there's nothing keeping her from finding a nicer place in the suburbs.

    Soon the kid has an "imaginary friend" she won't talk about, their ceiling is dripping gooey black liquid from an abandoned (and eerily flooded) apartment upstairs, and the building's greasy manager (John C. Reilly) and bug-eyed, hollow-cheeked building superintendent (Pete Postlethwaite) both seem to be hiding something sinister.

    Director Walter Salles (the Brazilian behind "The Motorcycle Diaries," making his inauspicious Hollywood debut) drags out these routine, oppressively glum establishing scenes to a mind-numbing degree. (If this apartment building is spooky enough to justify its own ominous soundtrack theme from the moment mom and daughter arrive, how come Connelly isn't astute enough to realize something's amiss, even if she can't hear the music?)

    Yet at the same time, Salles manages through subtle-as-a-sledgehammer foreshadowing to give away so much plot that I knew everything that was going to happen in the next hour, including the identity of the inevitable ghost that will cause the impending terror, where the corpse was hidden, how the person died, who among the remaining characters knew about it, and that there might be an unexpected connection to Connelly.

    As such, I didn't see much point in sticking around for more distasteful domestic misery performed by talented actors hired to provide an ersatz air of serious drama and respectability to what is the most contemptible kind of cinema horror: putting little kids in peril for cheap thrills.

    Even having seen only half of "Dark Water," I'm comfortable in pronouncing it the worst movie (so far) in the currently fashionable Hollywood trend of remaking Japanese ghost chillers that weren't all that good to begin with. (This film, "The Ring" and its sequel, and "The Grudge" were all based on Asian box-office hits by Hideo Nakata.)

    Of course, I do not begrudge any reader who dismisses this review out of hand because I didn't suffer through the whole picture. But don't say I didn't warn you.

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