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Dark Water(2002)(Review)

Japanese ghost stories have become so timeless and pronounced that they are almost just as widely known by Western audiences as they are in their homes. The early 00’s saw a big J-Horror remake trend where we were given American versions of highly regarded classics such as ‘The Grudge’ and ‘Ringu’, and while some of these remakes have gone on to own their own praise for getting certain things right and correctly elevating others, there are a few who fell by the wayside. Some films did such a poor job reimaging the material that most Western audiences aren’t familiar with the original source material. So what we have here is a classic Japanese ghost film that had a remake only a few years later that was badly panned, but the original has such a charm and ambience that it’s quite seductive.

‘Dark Water’ has a rather familiar story on the surface – but because this was one of the more popular ghost stories to tread the line between the hauntings coming from a place of malice or a place of desperate help. The story is about Yoshimi, a recently-divorced mother of 6-year-old Ikuko, who moves into a new apartment with her daughter. The apartment is very old and barely feels held together, and ever since day one there has been water making it’s way into the apartment. Overtime things get worse when the ceiling begins downpouring, and the mother and daughter both are being haunted by a young girl who had gone missing a year ago. From sleepwalking, to strange images out of the corner of their eyes, to a recurring red passenger bag that Ikuko finds on the roof that keeps re-appearing inside the apartment even when thrown out time and time again, there’s certainly some strange things going on.

The movie builds and goes to a point that is basically expected at this point in the horror lexicon. But the journey itself is sad and eerie as we watch this mother try to hold her sanity together, while being a good single parent, while dealing with a messy divorce. When the daughter is impacted by the ghost-child to the point of vanishing multiple times and fainting at school, everyone blames the mother and refuses to believe that something supernatural is involved. The apartment also has a very surreal feeling as we do not see a single other living resident on the premises pretty much the entire film.

We do end up taking some big swings in the last 20 minutes of the film that are, again predictable, but emotionally heavy and creepy. There’s water everywhere, there’s secrets in the air, and both of the main actors are troopers with what they have to endure for the sake of the story.

It’s a classic story that feels right at home in the 2000’s J-Horror boom that we saw overseas, but it still has some strength to it’s punches 22 years later.

“Dark Water” is currently streaming on Roku, Amazon Prime, & Vudu, and available on Bluray/DVD from Arrow Home Video.

‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

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