Ring too

It’s getting hard to tell the Japanese horror remakes apart

HEARING THINGS Mom and daughter (Jennifer Connelly and Ariel Gade) can’t get used to the “lived in” feeling of their spooky new apartment.

HEARING THINGS Mom and daughter (Jennifer Connelly and Ariel Gade) can’t get used to the “lived in” feeling of their spooky new apartment.

Dark Water
Starring Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade, John C. Reilly and Tim Roth. Directed by Walter Salles. Rated PG-13.
Rated 3.0

A word of warning to those who have seen Ring 2 and are planning to see Dark Water: The two movies are almost the same.

Blame it in on Ring 2 director Hideo Nakata, who—when tagged to direct the American version—tossed aside the original script and cannibalized his own Dark Water. Unfortunately for the team behind the American version of Dark Water, that left them with a redundant project on their hands. I’m sure there is a lawsuit bubbling up somewhere.

But in the end Dark Water is a much better movie than Ring 2.

In the process of getting a divorce from her caddish husband, woman-on-the-edge Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) and her young daughter Cecilia (Ariel Gade) are on the move to find to find an apartment in The Big Apple for under a grand a month. Uh huh. Finally, they come across a decayed apartment complex on New York’s Roosevelt Island. The entire island is squalid, a red-bricked compound that looks as if the city had spit it aside in disgust.

Mother and daughter meet up with agent John C. Reilly, who as he gives them a tour about the premises does his best to put a good light on things, though the apartment for rent is a mess. But it is $900 a month…

Cecilia is against it, but after a few minutes by herself upstairs experiences what is perhaps a “moment” and changes her mind. After the place is cleaned up a bit, they move in, and then things begin to get a bit creepy: surreptitious scurrying in the supposedly empty apartment above; water dripping ominously from the ugly black splotch on the ceiling; odd and furtive movement seen from the corner of the eye … and Cecilia has seemed to pick up a new, imaginary friend.

Granted, for those who have seen any of the Ring movies or The Grudge, this is pretty tired material. But taken in its own right Dark Water is the best of the lot (as a film, not as a jump-out-of-your-seat shocker). The emphasis here is on a quiet build-up of suspense, on not knowing whether supernatural elements are at work, some Gaslight action is going down, or Dahlia needs to increase her meds.

Brazilian director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) seems an odd choice to helm an American remake of a Japanese film, but he does more than adequate work here, offering up a subdued approach that may turn most horror-film fans off but will be more than satisfying for those who prefer their horror from the old school.

All the actors involved do a wonderful job, including an unrecognizable Tim Roth as a down-on-his luck divorce lawyer who, while in the course of helping Dahlia out, may have developed a crush on her.