Reviewed by: Caroline Mooney
|Featuring||Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite|
|Producer||Bill Mechanic, Roy Lee, Doug Davison|
Some mysteries were never meant to be solved.
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Dahlia Williams (Jennifer Connelly) is starting a new life; newly separated with a new job and a new apartment, she’s determined to put her relationship with her estranged husband behind her and devote herself to raising her daughter, Ceci. But when the strained separation disintegrates into a bitter custody battle, her situation takes a turn for the worse. Her new apartment—dilapidated, cramped, and worn—seems to take on a life of its own. Mysterious noises, persistent leaks of dark water, and strange happenings cause her imagination to run wild, leaving her to wonder who is behind the endless mind games. As Dahlia frantically searches for the links between the riddles, the dark water seems to close around her. But one thing trumps all others in Dahlia’s world: no matter what it is that’s out there, nothing is going to harm her little girl.”
The filmmakers who brought viewers “The Ring” also created the film “Dark Water”, a suspense-filled film about a young woman who moves to Roosevelt Island with her daughter to begin a new life during a hostile divorce. Faced with the responsibility of raising a child alone, finding a new place to live, and securing a job with “school day hours,” Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter, Cecilia (Ariel Gade), move into a low-rent apartment with an ominous looking water spot on the bedroom ceiling. Of course, only Cecily and Mr. Murray (John C. Reilly), the apartment manager, notice the water damage on the bedroom ceiling.
As though living in a seemingly empty, leaky, run-down apartment with a spooky building superintendent isn’t enough, a custody battle soon erupts, and Dahlia is forced to obtain legal council and defend herself as a mother from her estranged husband who suddenly wants to take Cecily away from her. Add in the supernatural aspect of the film, similar to that in “The Ring”, and Dahlia’s nightmarish memories of her own childhood, and you have a genuine psychological thriller.
Personally, and I confess this reluctantly, I loved it—not just the story, but the actual mechanics of the film, the way it was made. The film drew me in; I empathized with Dahlia and cried with Cecily while sitting on the edge of my seat practically the whole time. So, from the fingertips of one who watches films for a hobby, I enjoyed it thoroughly. But when I sit back and think about the content as a professing Christian, I do have some problems with the language, the use of drugs, and the overall idea of “life after death” at least as a ghost.
Inappropriate language in the film, “Dark Water,” is minimal. In fact, I wonder why the filmmakers used it at all. The words “g** d***,” and “s***” are used once; why even put them in the script? In one other instance, two teenage boys make vague, lewd comments towards Dahlia, a very attractive 30-year old woman. However, it’s obvious that the purpose is to add another dimension of suspense. Will these boys harm Dahlia or not? Nothing happens.
The audience learns that Dahlia suffers from migraines, but we first see her grabbing a bottle of pills from the medicine cabinet during stressful times. It isn’t until later in the film that the audience learns of her medical condition. Unfortunately, Dahlia appears to take prescription drugs in order to cope with her stressful situation. But, the drug use isn’t gratuitous; it provides the filmmakers a way to expose Dahlia’s thinking as she falls asleep and dreams. Still, the message is clear: I can’t cope with life so I’ll take a sleeping pill or tranquilizer.
Lastly, the whole ghost thing really bothers me, and I know it’s just a movie, but I believe that films such as “The Ring,” “The Others,” “The Grudge” and “Dark Water” perpetuate a belief in ghosts, or at least confuse people who don’t know the Bible. As a Bible-believing Christian, I know there are no such things as ghosts, and anything portrayed as a ghost in a film or a book must be evil. Lost souls do not remain on Earth to haunt other people or take revenge for their own unfulfilled lives.
“Dark Water” isn’t all bad, though, and there are a couple redeeming qualities in the film. Although Dahlia and Kyle argue bitterly during most of the film, Dahlia does encourage Cecily to make the most of her time with her father. And, in fact, towards the end of the movie, it almost seems as though the couple might move towards reconciliation.
The other positive theme throughout this film is that of motherly love, how a young woman who was abandoned by her own mother could be so determined to love and protect her own child. As a mother, I can relate to Dahlia and her determination to provide for all of Cecily’s needs, both physical and emotional.
My final opinion of “Dark Water” is this: It isn’t a family film, and I would not allow my own children (ages 11 and 13) to watch this film. For any adults reading this review, which is simply my own personal opinion, if you enjoy watching mysteries and non-gory supernatural thrillers, it’s an interesting film.
Better yet, wait until the film is released on DVD and watch the Director’s Commentary (if there is one) to learn about the film’s production. I think it would be very interesting, especially since there are so few actors and locations in the film.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/nudity: None
My Ratings: Average/1½