On the face of it Dark Water should offer up everything I want from horror. There’s a sense of foreboding tension over quick jump scares, some stellar performances and an intriguingly simple mystery at its heart. But while this American version of Ringu director Hideo Nakata’s Japanese original is an entertaining and at times tense film, it never quite culminates into anything show stopping.
Jennifer Connelly carries the film well as disturbed divorcee Dahlia and young Ariel Gade brings realism to a tricky child role, but it is the supporting characters – John C Reilly as a lazy apartment owner, Pete Postlethwaite adding another accent to his repertoire as a Russian janitor and a bespectacled Tim Roth as a cheap but moral lawyer – that stick in the mind.
What doesn’t stick as well is the film’s solution. Much of the plot is driven by the mystery; what is the dark water and what has happened in 10F? And while we get a perfectly acceptable solution to all this, there’s a niggling lack of closure; it’s never made clear if this is a fully fledged ghost revenge story or a spectre preying on an already mentally disturbed family.
That doesn’t fully condemn the movie. There’s an interesting enough subplot involving child custody that pads out the run time and although the film does that tired horror misstep of working in one final unnecessary twist after all is seemingly over, it allows for enough of an emotional payoff to be satisfied.
3/5 – Average