Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara) (2002)

Drenched in creepiness.
Posted on by

Dark Water - Drenched in Creepiness

Even with its PG-13 rating, Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara) still manages to be a very unsettling movie and is one of the original influences (along with Ring) on what has become the current commercially accessible J-Horror formula. Dark Water was one of the first mainstream Japanese horrors to create scares through very subtle means making the viewer unsure if they just saw something scary, creating an unsettling insecurity through wondering if the movie is playing subliminal mind tricks and adding a sense of uncertainty in scenes that should be non-scary plot development. Asian superstitions creates a confusion among the viewer not used to J-Horror stories once again creating an ominous uncertainty and enabling a simple, everyday occurrence such as a leaky roof seem foreboding. The use of children as victims and antagonists is another common J-Horror trick inspiring the natural human instinct to protect the youth seem hopeless due to the naivety of children and their willingness to just accept needy spirits as friends.

Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) and her young daughter Ikuko (Rio Kanno) move to a new apartment so that Yoshimi can find work to prove that she can support her daughter and herself amidst the nasty divorce she is currently battling through. The two are very pleased with the apartment considering the paltry budget that Yoshimi can currently afford, but it is not long before the menacing side of the new apartment begins to express itself starting with a dark patch of water on the ceiling emanating from the home above.

Ikuko is not settling into her new kindergarten and the school is beginning to get concerned as Yoshimi is constantly late to collect her offspring due to her new work commitments, a strikingly similar scenario experienced by Mitsuko Kawai, a young girl who attended the same kindergarten the previous year before her mysterious disappearance after her mother abandoned her. Ikuko claims that she has befriended a young girl whose conspicuous similarities to the missing child makes Yoshimi become concerned for her daughters mental state, but as the strange happenings in the apartment block become increasingly peculiar and with the realisation that Mitsuko lived in the apartment above with her mother, Yoshimi begins to question her own sanity.

Gradually Yoshimi starts to believe her daughter is interacting with the spirit of Mitsuko and believes the mystery of the disappearance can be solved within the boundaries of the apartment block. With her own judgement under question, Yoshimi fears that she may loose custody of her daughter unless she can put the troubled spirit and its little yellow raincoat to rest.

The movie ends with a disturbing closure to the mysterious and watery goings on with the desperate Yoshimi determined to appease the uncanny happening in a compassionate manner.

Dark Water pays a great deal of attention to the little details (as is common in movies directed by Hideo Nakata) and the frights are often so brief that you often don't realise that you have been scared until after the event. The almost constant manifestation of something watery in every scene, such as the relentless downpour of rain, leaks and puddles, make the viewer feel drowned in the suspense of the happenings and the understated, washed-out film distortions and the slight deformations of the soundtrack add to the feeling of cinematic insanity. Dark Water is a very well constructed and expertly directed movie which has inspired many of the J-Horrors that have followed and it excels itself in imparting an ominous feeling about something as simple as the contents of a faucet.
This review was posted on by
Categories: Asian Horror Movies

Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara): Movie Information

Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara): Related Images

Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara): External Links