Dark Water review
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Plot:A mother and daughter, still wounded from a bitter custody dispute, hole up in a run-down apartment building. Adding further drama to their plight, they are targeted by the ghost of former resident.
John C. Reilly,
My Thoughts:I think theres been a HUGE misunderstanding.
Review:"Dark Water" is basically the only movie to ever be caught up in such a huge film-related misunderstanding. Basically you can blame Buena Vista for this, because the film was marketed as a straight up supernatural/ghost/horror film. Similar to "The Ring". However, this is ABSOLUTELY wrong. "Dark Water" is a thriller/drama with a supernatural tinge to it. A small one. The worst thing about the ad campaign for this movie is that most of the wild scenes in it weren't even in the movie. The scene where the elevator walls turn into water with a bunch of figures moving about within the walls,not in the movie. The scene where hands come up from the floor as Jennifer Connelly enters apartment 10F where the ghost girl resides,not in the movie. and Lastly,the infamous scene which was shown in every trailer,where Jennifer Connelly is standing in the large room looking around stupified as water floods the walls and windows,NOT IN THE MOVIE. Misdirected marketing indeed. It seems that Buena Vista wanted to make people believe this was close to a horror movie. But they edited out everything that made it more of a horror/thriller/drama. What was left on screen was a supernatural drama/thriller. Barely even supernatural considering the spooky occurances are few and far between.Now I'm not sure whether the elevator and apartment scenes were really even in the film. For all we know, Buena Vista could've used editing to put those FX into the trailers to make the film more appealing. But the scene where water rains down on the entire apartment as Connelly watches in horror was in the film for sure, but just failed to make the final cut.Sadly because I was really looking forward to that scene when I first sat down to watch this movie. The jist of "Dark Water" plays out like a made for tv drama. A woman is embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her boyfriend or ex husband,were never really told what his past relationship was with her. But what we do know is that they had a daughter together. A little girl named Ceci.She has to prove to the child welfare people that she is fit to take care of her daughter so full custody isn't given to the ex. Thus she finds an apartment in Manhattan and her and her daughter plan to start over.
The building is borderline creepy. It's not really as gothic looking as it is small and congested. If theres a mystery here, we never really get it. and Nor do the characters. Unlike "The Ring",where alot of mystery and intrigue surrounded the tape and Samara herself, in "Dark Water", we aren't even introduced to the ghost or evil entity until the middle of the movie when Cicis teacher alerts her mom that she has an imaginary friend whos close to her age. Before that point in the movie, we think this woman and her daughter are being stalked by creepy tar-black H20.This is really bad business, because if you're one of those people who loses focus fast, then this movie will lose you early on in the beginning. The film does have it's share of creepy moments, like when Connellys character starts having flashbacks of her childhood and when she investigates apartment 10F for the first time. The huge issue is that again nothing is set up for the audience to hold on to. Every film has to have something which is given out to the viewer at the start so they will want to watch the film from start to finish and see what unfolds.To make matters worse, at the very beginning, the movie gives us a small subplot which it follows through with random flashbacks. The problem with the subplot is it makes you think one thing when it's actually revealed later to be something totally different. To top it all off, the subplot is done half-assed. It's interesting yes, but it's never followed up with a motive or explanation. Thus it falls to the wayside as a random annoyance which pops up here and there.The films supporting cast doesn't help either. The slum landlord character played by John C. Reilly is only funny once or twice,and the creepy handiman is a mystery but his character isn't used properly at all. They should've titled this movie, "Watch Jennifer Connelly slowly have a mental breakdown because of a leaky ceiling",because thats basically all it is.Near the end were finally given all the backstory in one big dose rather than having it cleverly spread out all across the movie.But the subplot remains unexplained,and the ending pretty much kills any sympathy the audience ever had for our ghost friend.
Still,despite all of these flaws,"Dark Water" doesn't deserve the merciless bashing it's taken from reviewers and critics. I thought it had it's moments,while failing in alot of other areas. This movie pretty much is a toss up. If you can appreciate some of the films atmospheric scenes, then you'll like it. The fact that it's raining throughout this entire movie sets the tone of things really well. This is a very sad,depressing,and sometimes disturbing thriller/drama. and The constant rain storms just add to the mood of the movie. One of the few things this movie did well was document a persons transformation from normal mother to broken down mess when factors such as a malevolent yet clever ghost,and the usual family issues come into play.and I think the reason it's bashed so much all goes back to the studio which released it. When you use clever advertising to trick people into thinking a film falls into a certain genre and it doesn't, there will be some very pissed off moviegoers,especially when you fail to deliver.
Granted I could be pissed off like most other people about being fooled, but hey,"White Noise" pretty much pulled the same prank. and Like "DW", "WN" didn't become a full fledged horror film until the end itself. The only difference is, "DW" kept me much more intrigued based solely on Jennifer Connellys performance. Whereas "WN" bored me to death and Keatons equally emotionless performance did nothing to help.
Pros:A few creepy scenes here and there, the constant raining added to the dark,depressing mood and atmosphere of the film. The mood matched the overall story really well.Jennifer Connelly gave a great performance which got better as the film went along. The films antagonist is quite clever.
Cons:Sloppy writing,a go nowhere subplot,an awful supporting cast,and alot of scenes that go nowhere. Also it was pretty obvious watching this movie that alot was cut out due to the bad editing.
Overall:Not as bad as people say it is, but certainly far from good. I think the key is to not go in expecting a horror movie, but rather a supernatural thriller with high drama elements and is basically a character study overall. Had J. Connelly not been the lead actress in this movie, I most likely would've hated it. She should get an oscar for managing to carry such a terribly written film.
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