Dark Water (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa
Director: Hideo Nakata

Yoshimi (Hitomi Kuroki) is a single Japanese woman going through a divorce and fighting for custody of her five year-old daughter Ikuko (Rio Kanno). She moves into an old grungy apartment building with her daughter to start a new life. They go exploring around the building and Ikuko finds a little red bag full of toys. Yoshimi grabs the bag and hands it into the reception desk. Yoshimi starts to find black hair in the tap water, the red bag turns up again this time in Ikuko’s school bag and their ceiling starts to leak very badly.

Yoshimi thinks that her ex-husband is behind all the strange happenings and so she attacks him at a meeting with their lawyers. A senior partner Kishida (Shigemitsu Ogi) from the law firm representing her notices how distressed she is and proceeds to help her win her case.

Ikuko starts to talk about an imaginary friend who loves water and this worries Yoshimi. Ikuko collapses at school and is discovered soaked in water, causing more concern for her mother. As Ikuko recovers from her collapse Yoshimi falls asleep by her side only to wake up and find that the ceiling leak has got worse and Ikuko has disappeared. Frantically, Yoshimi rushes out to look for Ikuko. She finds her in the flat above, flooded with water because all the taps are on and which Ikuko insists her imaginary friend drew her to. Apparently saving her daughter, Yoshimi finds out that a little girl used to live in this flat and carry a little red bag full of toys before she went missing.

Bizarrely this missing little girl had black hair and was five years old just like Ikuko, but unlike Ikuko her mother abandoned her. Ultimately Yoshimi is forced to make a heartbreaking decision that could save Ikuko from a horrible fate.

The acting by Hitomi Kuroki and Rio Kanno is very good and they portray a mother and daughter very well expressing the need they have for each other perfectly. Shigemitsu Ogi as the helpful lawyer and though very low key is still good. Hideo Nakata’s directing builds up the tension and mood progressively whilst keeping a hold on the mother-daughter storyline. DARK WATER borrows its themes from Nakata’s RING movies – water, mother and dark haired daughter. Having said that it is still scary but perhaps more melancholy and lonely than frightening

4 out of 6 stars