Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Dark Water

Hideo Nakata's Dark Water perhaps has fewer outright scary moments than the American remake of The Grudge, but it more successfully swells the ambient chill that characterised the Japanese original.

Newly-divorced translator Yoshimi Matsubara and daughter Ikuko move into what would have to be described as one of the most intimidating block of flats on the planet even if there were no supernatural damp spots on the ceiling. At the root of all the shuddersome events that subsequently befall them in their new abode is the resentful spirit of a little girl abandonned outside her kindergarten. She wears a bright yellow hooded raincoat - a costume prop which will resonate with anyone that has seen Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now.

I understand that Dark Water began as a short story penned by Koji Suzuki (whose Ring stories Nakata has turned into a sprawling franchise), which explains why the starting point ultimately feels a little stretched at feature length. As with The Grudge this premise is ultimately a rather weak engine for generating this much creepiness, but Nakata has done such a superb job setting the scene you probably won't really notice.

There's another one of those lifts - almost as essential to the Asian pyschological thriller as the 'Lacandon' over the face hairdo.

As fast as the Japanese can make these films, Hollywood is turning out the ersatz replicas. Dreamworks has the rights to this one.

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