Dark Water
2005
Thrill-master Hideo Nakata takes another chilling novel by Koji Suzuki and adapts it for the screen. This time, Yoshimi (Hitomi Kuroki) is fighting for the custody of her daughter, but more menacing problems have begun to plague her in her dreary apartment. An inexplicable odd pattern appears on her ceiling, and when she has recurrent visions of a strange girl and of a red bag she used to own when she was a child, Yoshimi fears for her sanity.

Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

So many movies get remade that were perfectly fine in the first place. How often do filmmakers get to revisit material that failed to capitalize on its potential the first time? I look forward to finding out whether the American remake ironed out the flaws in this somewhat lacking Japanese horror film. While it does a good job of creating a truly spooky atmosphere, it has an awkwardness of pace, such as when the mother makes a ghastly discovery then takes her sweet time getting back to her imperiled daughter. It also doesn't help that the whole film feels muted; the original score is really pretty good but there's so little of it throughout the film, letting the tension dissipate. But there's excellent work by two lead actresses here (including 6-year-old Rio Kanno in her debut film), and the best set that money could buy, one that transforms itself several times over and always convincingly so. The film may steal some of its images, but it knows what it's doing: A lift of the most famous image from "The Shining" transforms into a heartbreaking shot that ties together all the symbolism of mother and daughter. I can't quite recommend the film on its own, but if you rent it in preparation for the remake or just to see all of Hideo Nakata's work, you won't be disappointed.

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