Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dark Water 'Honogurai mizu no soko kara' (2002) - ★★★★★

Director: Hideo Nakata
Writers: Ken'Ichi Suzuki, Yoshihiro Nakamura
Stars: Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa

I found Dark Water to be one of the most tragic, beautiful, most well-made horror films I've ever seen. Sure, it has some horrifying moments and brilliant suspense building techniques. What makes it stick in my mind, and makes me so damn emotional, is the story... the answer to the mystery of the film... the resolution to end the haunting. It contains two of the greatest performances I've ever seen in a horror film by Hitomi Kuroki and the young Rio Kanno. They felt like real people, which made the story feel real, which made me connect to them as human beings. Don't get me wrong, this film is damn scary. It takes a while to build up to the climax, but the climax is so damn exceptional that I can forgive the pace. I adore horror films that journey further than their genre, and add an extra layer of depth in the story. That ending for me... the whole story... was beautiful.

Yoshimi (Hitomi Kuroki) is in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband over their 6 year old daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). She and her daughter move into a leaky, damp apartment to make a new start in life. As time goes on, Yoshimo frequently sees a strange little girl in a yellow raincoat. The little girl starts wreaking havoc on their lives and toying around with their minds. Why? That is the key question.

I wasn't overly interested in the answers to the mystery, because I was expecting the same generic horror movie formula. Little girl haunts family. Epic showdown at the end. Family defeats little girl... or do they? While that is what I assumed would happen, nothing could quite prepare me for the masterful way in which they revealed the ending. It was horrific and suspenseful... then it switched to touching and tragic. Just like that, I went from horrified to heart-broken. I'll never be able to watch this film again without having a deep emotional connection to our main character. She is one of the most noble, brave heroine's in the history of the genre. Sure, she made some silly decisions along the way, but the extent of the goodness within her was revealed in the final moments of the film. Truly beautiful stuff.

I'm just over the moon with this excellent production. So many things made this a perfectly formulated horror-film. The score by Kenji Kawai is... just perfect. It sets the mood for suspense and horror every step of the way. The creepy use of sound effects, percussion, and strings instruments accompanied the tale seamlessly. Then, at the very end, he gives us one of the most beautiful and tragic score's ever written for a motion picture. It still fits in well with the soundtrack of the film, but this music is different. It touches my soul... it makes this film, the performances, the characters, and that ending, such an unforgettable experience. It's one of the greatest soundtracks in horror movie history. As for the cinematography, it was also perfect for the film. Everything was so grey, dampening, and creepy. Right from the get go, it sets the atmosphere of the film up perfectly. Mixed with the astrounding music, Dark Water is an artistic marvel of the horror world.

Hitomi Kuroki and Rio Kanno gave two of the finest performances I've ever seen in a horror movie. 
One cannot review this film without mentioning the wonderful performance by Hitomi Kuroki. She showed such love and care for her daughter, which raised the stakes of the film that much higher. I fully believed in their relationship, which is also due to the outstanding performance by Rio Kanno. What's more, Kuroki captured the essence of what pure fear looks like. My heart was pounding in silence with each step she took, with each slow glance, with each word she spoke in those crucial final moments. It was her heart-shattering display of emotion at the end of the film that made me truly realize the extent of her love for her daughter. She truly gave one of the best leading performances in horror movie history. Rio Kanno gave one of the best child performances I've ever seen too... I'll never forget the look on her face or her cries when the elevator door opened...

After I saw the ending, and fully realized why the little girl was doing these things, I was rocked to the core with emotion. It's not a beautiful story... nor was the resolution 'beautiful'... when all is said and done, it was the way these moments unfolded that were truly beautiful. This is the most thoughtful, touching horror movie I've ever seen.


  1. I do remember this movie a lot and being impressed with the emotions that go on durring this. It's too bad the remake shat on all of that. I need to rewatch this one again. Im giving your site THe Sunshine Award.


    1. Thanks Vern! The remake was never going to live up to the original. Jennifer Connelly is a fine actress... but she doesn't emanate the warmth of a caring mother. She could never establish that connection to the daughter... which was the ultimate downfall of the film (among many other aspects that sucked ass).