Dark Water is, once again, me filling in my missing film knowledge with another sumptuous release from Arrow’s many quality titles.
From Hideo Nakata, the director of the original Ringu (another one – it pains me to say – I’ve yet to see, given what a cult classic I understand it to be), this film centres around Yoshimi (Hitomi Kuroki), who’s trying to get custody of her six-year-old daughter Ikuko (Rio Kanno), in a divorce. Her soon-to-be ex-husband, Kunio (Fumiyo Kohinata), is mostly absent from their daughter’s life, but is still trying to press for custody and is not adverse to using dirty tricks against her when it comes to putting their cases to the mediators.
Of course, being a Japanese horror film, there’s a lot of weird, spooky shit going on. Yoshimi is doing her best to provide for Ikuko – in getting a steady job, and in looking for an apartment, but would you believe it, the one she chooses has water coming out of the walls, and ceiling and God knows where else. In fact, when there’s water leaking through the ceiling, it would be far too straight-forward if it was just a case of the residents above making a mess.
Throw in the info that there used to be another girl in the apartment block who has long since disappeared, Mitsuko Kawai (Mirei Oguchi), and there are a heap of questions that need answering, but however many of them get resolved, this was a hell of a chilling movie from Nakata, and it’s also nice to see a horror film that doesn’t rely on CGI.
And given that I usually eschew Hollywood remakes of classic original films, I dread to think how the 2005 Jennifer Connelly version fared. It certainly didn’t get the same reception on IMDB (5.6 vs the original’s 6.7)
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and the picture is a little bit soft, but that’s only due to the filming process and not this print. Beyond that, it’s very reasonable.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1, and it’s mostly used in the atmosphere, particularly the endless rain scenes.
The extras begin with three new interview segments: Hideo Nakata: Ghosts, Rings and Water (26:03), including looking at his early works prior to the original Ringu; Koji Suzuki: Family Terrors (20:20):, with the author going into detail about how he adapted this from one of his short stories; and one from director of photography Junichiro Hayashi: Visualising Horror (19:16), where he recounts working with Hideo Nakata on many occasions
Further interviews, shot at the time of the film being made, come from actress Hitomi Kuroki (7:59), composer Shikao Suga (2:54), and Asami Mizukawa (4:38), as the teenage Ikuku, including some of her auditions.
There’s also a Making-of featurette (15:50), also put together back then, which is purely on-set footage, and it’s fantastic to see all this in one place; plus Promo materials in the form of a trailer (1:13), teaser (0:37), and three TV spots (totally 0:50). Regular readers of my reviews will know that I love things like this as old trailers etc won’t appear anywhere else ever, especially TV spots.
In addition, there’s a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain, and the first pressing includies an illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing by David Kalat, author of J-Horror: The Definitive Guide to The Ring, The Grudge and Beyond, and an examination of the American remake by writer and editor Michael Gingold.
The main menu features a short piece of the theme set to clips from the film. There are a bog-standard 12 chapters to the film, and subtitles are in English.
Dark Water is out now on Blu-ray/DVD boxset, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 101 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: October 10th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Hideo Nakata
Producer: Takashige Ichise
Screenplay: Takashige Ichise, Hideo Nakata, Ken’ichi Suzuki and Yoshihiro Nakamura (based on the novel by Kôji Suzuki)
Music: Kenji Kawai and Shikao Suga
Yoshimi Matsubara: Hitomi Kuroki
Ikuko Matsubara: Rio Kanno
Mitsuko Kawai: Mirei Oguchi
Ikuko Hamada (16 years old): Asami Mizukawa
Kunio Hamada: Fumiyo Kohinata
Ohta (real-estate agent): Yu Tokui
Kamiya (apartment manager): Isao Yatsu
Kishida (Yoshimi’s lawyer): Shigemitsu Ogi
Young Yoshimi’s Teacher: Maiko Asano
Young Yoshimi: Yukiko Ikari
Mediators: Shinji Nomura and Kiriko Shimizu
Old Lady (twin, elder): Teruko Hanahara
Old Lady (twin, younger): Youko Yasuda
Old Lady (twin, younger): Kono Tarou Suwa
Nishioka: Shichirou Gou
Kayo: Chisako Hara
Principal: Tôru Shinagawa
Yoshimi Matsubara (voice): Shelley Calene-Black
Ikuko Matsubara (voice): Gabi Chennisi Duncombe