Starring Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, and Pete Postlethwaite
Directed by Walter Salles
Released by Touchstone Home Entertainment
Pretentious: pri-‘ten(t)-shus: adjective; Expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature. Okay, review over.
What, you’re still here? Must I? You asked for it.
With the release of Dark Water, fans of J-horror as it is now trendily called were treated to yet another American redux that is about as flattering to its Asian kin as running through Chinatown pointing up at the sky and screaming RODAN!!! What we have here folks is a bore-fest of epic proportions. One that will leave you diving for the stop button on your DVD remote, that is if you’re still awake by the end credits.
Jennifer Connelly plays Dahlia, a divorcee mother that’s struggling to keep custody of her daughter. Newly ejected from her marriage, she takes up the search for some low income housing and ends up smack dab in the middle of a wet and dreary haunting that’s driven by a mysterious secret. Or is she just bat shit nuts? Either way, that’s the basic storyline; and for what it’s worth, it is executed nicely.
The main problem here is Connelly herself. She has proved to be a three-note actress. I can almost hear the directors she has worked with in my head: “All right, Jennifer, looks pensive. Now look thoughtful. Okay, get ready . . . Weep! Damn, you’ve nailed it again!” Seriously, she plays the same role, the same way, every single time that I have seen her. Everything’s always overly important and dramatically emphatic. So what better to do with her than surround her with a crew that is insistent on not making a movie, but making a FILM! People that believe in their hearts that this is in no way a genre film but a character study rooted in reality. Hey! Newsflash, people! You’ve made a flick about a little ghost bitch and bad plumbing! That’s it! The wheel has not been reinvented here. Stop smacking us — the audience that will put money into your pockets by going to see this crap — in our faces by telling us you didn’t make a horror movie. Embrace the genre you’re trying to cash in on. Get over yourselves.
Ahem. Let’s move on.
You see it. It’s at the top of the box: Unrated Edition. This is becoming such a home video cliche. What we get is the addition of a watery dream sequence that, much like the rest of the film, is no big whoop. On the extras side of things, wow. Where to start? The release of Dark Water has given birth to an all new kind of DVD extra, Self-Serving Praise! I am laying down the gauntlet here. I defy any of you to sit through the extras of this movie without wanting to hurl because of how pretentious the crew is. We have a few featurettes that serve no purpose other than for the cast and crew to pat each other on the back for a job well done. “We didn’t want to make a horror movie. This is a film. I don’t like horror, it’s not my genre of choice. This is a film. A masterful job was done on the . . . This is a film. An incredible feat was when we . . . This is a film.” It’s like Chinese water torture. A bare bones release would have been so much more of a pleasant experience.
If you want to see what Dark Water was really supposed to be like, track down the Japanese version. It’s superior on every level and delivers the chills and scares that this overblown mockery didn’t have the gumption to. Please god, just let this one get flushed and float away.
Sound design featurette “The Sound of Terror“
Analyzing key sequences with viewing options
“An Extraordinary Ensemble” featurette
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