Starring: Jennifer Connelly as Dahlia, John C. Reilly as Mr. Murray, Tim Roth as Jeff Platzer, Ariel Gade as Ceci, Pete Postlethwaite as Mr. Veeck, Dougray Scott as Kyle, Camryn Manheim as Ceci's teacher, and Perla Haney-Jardine as Natasha/ Young Dahlia
Directed by Walter Salles
Screenplay by Rafael Yglesias, based on the book by Koji Suzuki
When I went to see Dark Water, I had already seen four other horror movies this year. One, Land of the Dead, was very entertaining. The other three, The Ring Two, The Amityville Horror, and House of Wax, were very disappointing. I went into this movie hoping that it would avoid the fate of the three stinkers with the help of good acting, and a story from the writer of the Japanese novel Ringu, on which 2002's The Ring was based. I was not disappointed.
The main thing that set Dark Water apart from the lesser films I saw this year was the acting. In her role as Dahlia, a desperate single mother trying to figure things out, Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly shines. John C. Reilly, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors, turns in and inspired and very funny performance as Mr. Murray, the obnoxious and insincere landlord of the building Dahlia and her daughter move into. The always reliable Pete Postlethwaite and Tim Roth are also very good as the building's superintendant and Dahlia's lawyer, respectively. The child actors are also good, with Ariel Gade playing Ceci, Dahlia's daughter, Ceci, and Perla Haney-Jardine (last seen as The Bride's daughter in Kill Bill Volume 2) in a dual role as Dahlia as a child and Natasha, the dead girl who haunts Dahlia and her daughter. Rounding out the cast are Dougray Scott as Dahlia's ex-husband and The Practice's Camryn Manheim as Ceci's teacher. The movie proves that a horror movie can be just as good as other movies if competant actors are involved.
The plot of Dark Water was good, but not great. It was definitely obvious that the book on which the movie was based was from the author of The Ring, as there were many plot similarities, most notably the ghost of a little girl being the main antagonist. Some other aspects, such as hair in the sink and large water receptacles (a well in The Ring, a water tower in Dark Water) are present in both works. However, despite the similarites to The Ring, Dark Water was the first movie that genuinely scared me as I watched it in a long time. Brazilian director Walter Salles, whose other credits include last year's The Motorcycle Diaries, produced many real thrills and scares that keep you up the night you see them.
Overall, Dark Water was a very good movie, and the best horror movie I have seen so far this year. So, if you want to get a good scare at the movies, ignore and Paris Hilton trash that comes out of the woodwork, and check out Dark Water.
Overall: 3 1/2 Stars out of 5