Dark Water Unrated

Cover and Menu: 7/10
This cover looks alright, I guess. It’s kind of creepy, kind of stylized. It doesn’t do justice to the movie inside though. The cover gives off that standard horroresque attitude, which makes you think it’s a standard horror/thriller flick. It’s not. The menus start to hint at the darker side of the story with a sink filling up with that yummy dark water. Even the menus don’t let you in on the true essence of what kind of movie you are about to see, which might not be a bad thing. I think the people who designed the packaging either didn’t get the movie, or didn’t actually watch it. Oh yea, if you get the blue cover it’s the original theatrical version.

Special Features: 8/10

  • Deleted Scenes – Hmm, if you have less than, let’s say 7 deleted scenes, don’t bother. Guess what, this DVD has 2…hrmph!
  • The Sound Of Terror Featurette – Any suspenseful story owes some of it’s tingling moments to the sounds and music that fill in the cracks between the scares and plot twists. This is a good look at how they created the audio flavoring for Dark Water. It’s not very long but covers everything from the score to the sound effects. It makes you realize how a flick like this could be completely different with a different sound backdrop.
  • Analyzing Dark Water Featurette &  The Making Of Dark Water – Behind the scenes is always a good place to be when it comes to a story that seems to have a lot behind what you see on the screen. Meet the director, writer, and cast along with glimpses at what it took to build the sets, and control the weather.
  • An Extraordinary Ensemble Featurette – This is a look at the cast of Dark Water and how the right combination of performers can make a good story even better. That sounds like Hollywood crap, but it’s really true, so true.

The Movie: 8/10
I have to start by saying that I give this movie a pretty high score for a couple of reasons, but the biggest reason is that so much of it is truly visceral. A troubled young mother in the process of a divorce and custody battle with a somewhat bitter ex-husband. She is forced to move to an isolated part of the city where the apartment building is scary enough, never mind whatever supernatural disturbance might be going on inside.

From the first scene it’s understood that this young woman might have some emotional and maybe even mental instability. The fact that she moves into a place where even Dr. Phil might come unraveled is one of those things you just have to get your mind to accept without question. The visual style of the movie is dark, dreary, ultra realistic in a way that makes you uncomfortable when you realize that people do live in places so, well, dark and dreary. The constant rain and overcast skies add to the drama and make this new apartment seem even more isolated from the outside world.

What makes this movie stand out to me is that the experience of watching it brought several moments of real tactile response. When the stain first appears on the ceiling it’s gross, wet, dripping, and the sound is yucky enough to make you imagine that thing in your own house….and it’s not a pleasant image. It only gets worse and when the actual dark waters flow at different times your brain makes up some horrible stink that must come with it. I have to give credit where it’s due in this case because unless it’s watching someone touch raw meat (I’ll save that phobia for my memoirs), it’s hard to make me queasy or squeamish. Dark Water had several squeamish moments for me so that made it more fun, more involving, more interesting.

Beyond the atmospheric charm, the story isn’t that extraordinary, but combined with the excellent cast, the superb directing and art design, it doesn’t bring the movie down. I like stories with tragedies that are left unexplained, or with some kind of real grit to them. In this tale of woe and heart ache there is potential to fall back on old boring reasons for what’s happening to this mother and daughter, but it takes enough of a turn to keep it from being a let down as the film comes to an end.

The Unrated version of the movie has just a tad bit added, on extra f-word (oh, shocking) and a bit of a scene added in to a dream sequence that was cut from the theatrical release for whatever reason. If I hear unrated I think more gore, more nudity, but this time it’s just those two little things. Still, it’s how the director wanted the film so I say it’s the way it should be.

The cast is all good, no exception. I can’t pick one who let down their character or who was better than anyone else. I always love Tim Roth and John C. Reilly. The girl is exceptionally cute, which could be annoying, but it’s not over played too too much. And last but not least Jennifer Connelly won me over, and that’s saying a lot since I’m not a big fan of hers for any thing other than A Beautiful Mind.

The cast is great, the story is good, the directing is stellar, and the overall experience of watching Dark Water was a pleasant surprise. I don’t say that lightly since I’m not that impressed with creep shows and ghost stories anymore, but once in a while it’s nice to let your skepticism take a break and enjoy the ride.

Value: 7/10
This is a good addition to any number of DVD collections. If you are a fan of Japanese style thrillers, creepy stories, or chilling tales of super natural, Dark Water is a must have. You will find it online for just around $18 so it’s well worth the investment. Just be sure you grab the Red cover if you want the extra f-word and added clip in the dream sequence.

Overall Score 8/10