This American film based on Hideo Nakata's original movie [which was based on a book so it may not be completely original] is actually a lot better than most American remakes of Asian horror cinema. The first time I watched this movie I was expecting something along the lines of "The Ring" or maybe the "The Grudge" but was pleasantly surprised when this one seemed more surreal. It does an excellent job with the characters and makes the story seem very believable. I had a good time with this one when with others I was really not much of a fan.
Dahlia and her daughter Cecelia are looking for a new apartment on Roosevelt Island in New York City, Cecelia needs to live close to a good school it seems. Dahlia has a new job and at the same time is going through a divorce with a husband that does not trust her judgment. Once they find a place strange things start to happen like a constant water leak that is in her daughter's room. Also add in the strange noises coming from the place above her place and you have a cool little film a brewing. Of course you can't forget that this is a mystery/ghost story at heart.
Director Walter Salles does a nice job in letting the story tell its self instead of pushing things along at a fast pace. He also elects to let the characters build on them selves and actually develop, that seems rare now a days. Also writer Rafael Yglesias [also a writer on the Johnny Depp flick "From Hell] did a nice job in this American version. To be completely honest with you I was not expecting a ghost story like this one from this one. I really felt that it would look like every other remake that has come out since "The Ring".
The thing that really makes this film interesting is the acting from this top notch cast, every one did a good job on this one. Jennifer Connelly is great as Dahlia Williams and makes the character seem like an actual person.She has a beauty and innocence that I find captivating. As Dahlia Williams, Ms. Connelly has this same charming quality, while going through a living hell. Dahlia is being assaulted on three separate levels. She is haunted by the terrible memories of her childhood, dogged by the insanity of her current, ugly divorce, and plagued by the ghostly happenings in her apartment building. Dahlia and her daughter,
Cecelia are in the middle of a black storm of overwhelming forces. A combination that would drive most souls to despair, most minds to break down. Watching this poor woman go through this ordeal is downright depressing, yet Connelly plays it w/ her usual grace. Dark Water is a supernatural mystery. Beyond that, it is a story about the undying love of one mother for her daughter in the face of abandonment, desolation, and mounting terror. I watched it more then once, and liked it more the second time around...
Ariel Gade who plays as her daughter, who like Jennifer does a great job which is rare for child actors, especially in this type of film. Of course the ever excellent Tim Roth is brilliant in this film as a lawyer who actually comes to this lady's aid when she needs it. John C. Reilly may steal the show some what as the shady land lord who always makes a promise he can not keep. Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, and Camryn Manheim all also give excellent performances.
As the film goes on it goes from being about pesky neighbors to a ghost story to a crime mystery and it still manages to feel like the same film. This is not the best movie ever and may not be for every body but it definitely will appeal to some. I would recommend this one to any fan of mystery films or ghost stories. By the way the ending to this is excellent.