Jennifer Connelly as Dahlia in Dark Water (2005)

Bit of a Wash Out

Whilst fighting for custody of her daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade), Dahlia Williams (Jennifer Connelly - Hulk) finds them an apartment to live in on Roosevelt Island just 2 blocks from an excellent school for Ceci. But the apartment has issues including a dripping damp spot in the corner of a bedroom and mysterious voices. It is just more pressure on Dahlia as she tries to deal with her ex wanting custody as well as work leading to an increase in migraines and weakening her mental state. But as things get stranger and stranger with Ceci speaking to an imaginary girl Dahlia is forced to try and find out the mysteries of the apartment above hers and the leaky damp spot in the bedroom.

The only thing I knew about "Dark Water" was from a TV write up which said suspenseful, thriller with a touch of horror to it, which whilst generic is a fair description. As such I hadn't watched the original Japanese horror which this is a remake off and had seen none of the advertising which from what I understand portrayed it as some sort of teen horror movie. Why do I mention these things well I have since read reviews of "Dark Water" being a poor remake and a movie undone by its advertising campaign for miss portraying it as something it wasn't. So that leaves me as a clean slate, coming to watch it because of it being a suspenseful, thriller with a touch of horror to it.

Pete Postlethwaite as Veeck in Dark Water (2005)

Unfortunately what I watched did little to thrill me and whilst it served up a horror ending long before it had got there it had lost my attention. The trouble is that "Dark Water" is 90 minutes of build up followed by a dramatic ending and that build up is painfully slow to the point you wonder whether it will bother go anywhere or just abruptly end instead. It's not that the actual storyline is wrong, single mum and daughter move into creepy apartment with a damp patch in the ceiling and some seriously screwed up plumbing has potential. The trouble is that all the build up which attempts to build various lines of intrigue, from strange goings on in the apartment to Dahlia's troubled childhood and mental state feels drawn out.

What this really means is that "Dark Water" becomes about two things; director Walter Salles styling and then Jennifer Connelly's performance as Dahlia. Now for me Salles' direction whilst solid didn't do it for me, yes visually the use of dimly lit rooms and the dreariness of constant rain is good but it doesn't create a suspenseful atmosphere or not one which sucked me in. But then there is Jennifer Connelly who does a good job as Dahlia making her fragile mental state tangible, it is very much Connelly's performance which keeps you watching. Having said that Ariel Gade as Ceci has a creepy quality about her which is perfect for the role which is not something I would say the rest of the cast with the likes of Pete Postlethwaite and John C. Reilly miscast.

What this all boils down to is that "Dark Water" whilst probably brilliant for those who love character based dramas was a drawn out disappointment for me which needed to move things a lot quicker to keep me interested.