27 January 2016

DARK WATER. 2003. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.


DARK WATER. 2003. DIRECTED BY HIDEO NAKATA. STARRING HITOMI KUROKI, RIO KANNO, MIREI OGUCHI AND ASAMI MIZUKAWA. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Yoshimi Matsubara has big problems. Her estranged husband is determined to wrestle custody of their six-year-old daughter Ikuko from her, and he's a dirty fighter to boot. With her little girl, she's just moved into a leaky apartment in a creepy old building staffed by an indifferent conciรจrge. Now she's a single mum, she's got to work for her bread and butter and she's finding it hard to fit her job as a proofreader around her responsibilities as a mammy. A lot of women will be able to relate to that.

As the title might suggest, this is a very wet movie. Yoshimi is alarmed to observe that there are wet dripping patches on the ceiling of their apartment that the janitors don't seem overly concerned about. When Yoshimi goes upstairs in the lift to talk to their overhead neighbour about the leak, there's no-one there, though she does see the door open just as she's heading back downstairs in the lift. Who's there? That apartment's been empty for months, ever since the parents of a missing schoolgirl of about Ikuko's age decided to vacate it.

A child's little red schoolbag keeps turning up around the place no matter how many times Yoshimi crams it in the dustbin. Ikuko collapses in her kindergarten after we see her being approached by a small, soaking wet figure in a raincoat and rubber boots. When Ikuko goes missing in the building, her frantic mother tracks her down to the apartment upstairs which is flooded, positively flooded, with water.

Even the janitors have to admit this time that there's a problem with the plumbing. Yoshimi, who's seen the silhouette of a little girl in the flooded apartment, knows that the problem goes deeper than that. She's now convinced that the building is haunted by the ghost of the missing girl, and she's scared to death for the safety of her own child.

She's right to be scared. When Ikuko is in her bath, the ghost tries to pull her under the water and drown her. Long strands of black hair turn up in the water when they run the taps. The water in the building is pretty filthy overall, in fact. That shouldn't be, should it? Of course it shouldn't.

Yoshimi goes up onto the roof of the building and gingerly approaches the water-tower, where she's previously seen a shadowy figure lurking. It's obvious she thinks that the body of the missing schoolgirl is in the tower, which even the janitor admits hasn't been cleaned in ages. Yoshimi gets scared, however, by terrifying shapes pushing their way out of the tower and hurries back into the building.

Going back downstairs in the lift with a terrified Ikuko clutched in her arms, Yoshimi sees the door to the haunted apartment slowly open. A small arm appears, then out comes... Ikoku...? But if that's Ikoku coming out of the empty flat, then who- or what?- is Yoshimi cradling so tightly in her arms...? Yoshimi slowly looks down and sees...

Well, I'm not not going to tell you what she sees, because that would spoil an ending that is both shocking and tear-jerkingly sad. The tension and suspense that have been simmering away nicely since the start of the film boil up and bubble over, leaving the viewer suitably breathless and blown away by the climax. 

This is an excellent film, and it was only my third or fourth foray into the world of Japanese horror as well. Imagine that! Since then, I've watched plenty more of these little beauties, though, and I'll be watching plenty more in the future. You can depend upon it.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline.

In her capacity as a performance poet, she has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers' Centre, The International Bar, Toners' Pub (Ireland's Most Literary Pub), the Ha'penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland's Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. 

She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home. In 2003, she was invited to be a guest on Niall Boylan's 98FM late-night radio talk show purely on the basis of having a 'sexy voice.'

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director's Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com






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