'Solid acting not enough to carry 'Dark Water'

Dark Water' -- PG-13

Ever since the success of 2002's "The Ring," remaking Japanese horror films has been a Hollywood fad. However, with duds like "The Grudge" and the sequel to "The Ring," it's a good thing that this is just a fad.

"Dark Water" is the most recent Japanese horror film remake. I decided to check it out as it is directed by Walter Salles who did "The Motorcycle Diaries," one of my favorite movies.

The film starts off on a sturdy and standard note: a divorce between Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) and her husband forces her and daughter Cecilia to relocate. Finding an affordable apartment in New York City isn't easy, and soon she finds herself buying a small, dank apartment from a shady landlord in a downtrodden building complex. There is a grotesque leak in the corner of the bedroom. With the persistent leak, loud thuds coming from the floor above her, haunting nightmares involving the room above, and her daughter's new imaginary friend, Dahlia does what any modern-day horror heroine would do -- she investigates. She soon finds out that some mysteries are never meant to be solved.

Surprisingly, "Dark Water" offers enough character development and solid acting to be a drama, but that's because it's lacking scares and only churns out a few jolts. Most of the time, the best part is watching Connelly masterfully act as the vulnerable mother. Salles does a decent job giving insight to the characters lives, which in return gives them a great deal of heart, something that most horror films lack.


However, what may be the film's greatest achievement is also its greatest downfall. Sometimes the amount of character development is overwhelming. Though it may be entertaining, too much gets thrown into the film that never gets resolved. Sometimes Salles suggests that there is a plot beneath the plot -- which gives the film a Roman Polanski feel -- but nothing progresses or develops.

Besides showcasing Connelly's acting talents and providing a sense of reality, "Dark Water" is simply another film filled with false frights. It has potential, but suffers from mediocrity. It offers nothing more than entertainment. After sitting in a theater for two hours, wouldn't you want to come out a little bit wiser?

Max Arnzen is a graduate of John Marshall High School and a post-secondary education option student at Rochester Community &; Technical College. To respond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336) or send e-mail to

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