October 29, 2016

Blu-Ray Review: DARK WATER (2002)

Starring Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa, Fumiyo Kohintata. Directed by Hideo Nakata. (2002, 101 min).

Director Hideo Nakata is the guy largely responsible for the subgenre known as J-Horror, and because a few of his films (Ringu, in particular) made a substantial global impact, Hollywood came running to pilfer the genre and croak out bushels of American remakes. While more-or-less faithful storywise, something always got lost in the translation and only The Ring was really any good. Still, most of them made big enough bank at the box office that the originals sort-of got lost in the shuffle. Dark Water is one of those lost treasures.

Now that it’s available on Blu-Ray for the first time, forget the insipid 2005 remake. The original Dark Water reminds us what made J-Horror unique in the first place. Deliberately paced and atmospheric, the film relies on well-rounded characters, somber performances, a foreboding score and unusually creepy locations rather than jump scares and gore. The film is slow to lay all its cards on the table because Nakata knows the journey is more important than the destination; atmosphere and ambiguity is always far creepier than loads of exposition.

When Mr. Bubble attacks.
While not quite as accomplished or scary as Ringu (I've always been somewhat disappointed by the resolution), Dark Water is a fine film worth rediscovering. Arrow Films has done their usual remarkable job for its Blu-Ray release, with a great video/audio transfer, new packaging and loads of new & vintage bonus features. This is the perfect disc to pop-in, turn off the lights and enjoy the slow burn.

Original Making-of Featurette.
New Interviews (with Nakata, original author Koji Suzuki and cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi).
Archive Interviews (with actresses Asami Mizukawa & Hitomi Kuroki and composer Shikao Suga).
Trailers & TV Spots.

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