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Touchstone Home Video presents
"If you ever need me, I'll be right here."
DVD ReviewGiven Hollywood's recent lack of vision and original ideas, it's no surprise that we've seen a bunch of Asian horror films remade in Tinseltown. With the success of the American version of Hideo Nakata's The Ring, these remakes have been popping up consistently. While that film propelled Naomi Watts to international superstardom, the remake of Nakata's Dark Water has an already established female A-lister on board in Jennifer Connelly.
Dahlia Williams (Connelly) is in the midst of a messy divorce from her husband Kyle (Dougray Scott), who are both fighting to retain custody of their daughter, Ceci (Ariel Gade). Dahlia currently has Ceci living with her, and is trying to find an affordable apartment on Roosevelt Island. Despite being close to a great school, the apartment that real estate agent Mr. Murray (John C. Reilly) shows them is very rundown. Still, this two-bedroom place is very affordable for New York, so Dahlia takes it. Ceci goes off on her own to the building's roof where she finds a young girl's school bag that the superintendent (Pete Postlethwaite) claims might have belonged to someone named Natasha. Soon, Natasha is haunting Ceci, while Dahlia, too, is haunted, by the memory of her wreck of a mother. As reality becomes a question mark for Dahlia, and mysterious puddles of water appear on the ceiling of their apartment, the terror has only begun for this building's newest tenants.
Dark Water measures up extremely well to the original import, but makes one major misstep: the ending. Actually, the whole of this remake is better paced, and carries a heavier emotional weight than Nakata's picture, but his ending is one of the most effective finales in years, and the American Dark Water just can't quite approach its brilliance. Still, the ability of the remake to stand on its own as a film with its own original ideas is very impressive and a rarity these days.
Jennifer Connelly is always good, but she is outstanding here. Balancing between portraying a down-on-her-luck single mother and someone who is slowly losing her mind, Connelly allows Dahlia to stay believable every step of the way. She has excellent chemistry with her on-screen daughter, which is pivotal to the story. Connelly's interaction with Postlethwaite is perhaps the most underrated aspect of Dark Water. These veteran performers demand our attention when they appear together, and simply gel as if they have been working together for years. John C. Reilly is very funny in his brief bit of screen time here. Some might see his (and Jennifer Connelly's) work in a genre picture as a means to pick up an easy paycheck, but Reilly goes above and beyond the call of duty, bringing the same charm and witty comedic timing that he's delivered in Oscar-caliber pictures.
I'm not exactly encouraging remakes, but since there's seemingly no stopping this trend, Hollywood at least owes it to fans of the original films to get the new ones right. Dark Water is one of the good ones, and is a rare instance where watching the foreign and original versions back-to-back can be very different, equally fulfilling experiences.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is exactly what we should expect from such a recent, decently-budgeted project. Images are consistently sharp and detailed, while the colors are true to the cinematographer's intentions. This is a dark, brooding project, and it's great to see the blacks and shadow levels stand up to the rest of the transfer. There's a bit of dirt in the opening of the film, but otherwise, the transfer is flawless.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: Creepy sounds play a big part in the effectiveness of Dark Water, and this Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does an excellent job recreating the jumpy theatrical experience I had with the film. As noises occur, seemingly from the upstairs apartment, we hear these random sounds travel across the soundfield, creating the illusion that someone is above us as well. There's enough bass to aid in the scares, and the dialogue is always sharp and easy to hear.
Audio Transfer Grade: A+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Annapolis, Flightplan, Shopgirl, Sin City: Recut & Extended, Shadows in the Sun, Everything You Want, Lost: Season Two
2 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: There's some really nice extras available, including Beneath The Surface: The Making of Dark Water. This 15-minute piece has interviews with director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries), screenwriter Rafael Yglesias, other crew, and many cast members, as well as a look at the locations and sets that Dark Water was shot at or near.
The Sound of Terror focuses on the excellent sound design of Dark Water. This seven-minute segment features talks with re-recording mixer Scott Millan and sound supervisor/sound designer Frank Gaeta, about the various audio effects and slick transitions that add to the scares in the film.
There are a pair of deleted scenes, with one showing us Dahlia's trip to the laundromat, and the other showing Ceci asking her dad to go back into the apartment at the end of the film. There's nothing spectacular in either of these scenes, which are basically just filler.
Extraordinary Ensemble is 25 minutes of discussion and raw, on-set footage of the making of the film, focusing mostly on the amazing cast that worked on the picture. We get a ton of interview footage as well, but this is the best extra on the disc due to it's production footage.
Analyzing Dark Water Scenes is an in-depth, nearly seven-minute look at three pivotal sequences in the film. We get an in-depth look at the girl in the blue robe scene, the enormous "Wall of Water," and a neat audio experience with the final bathroom scene. In this interactive feature, you can switch between various sound elements such as raw production sound, ambient sound effects, and Automatic Dialogue Replacement, or you can watch the scene with its final mix.
We also have a collection of sneak peeks for other upcoming and current DVD releases.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsEven though it wasn't a huge box office hit, the American version of Dark Water is one of the best genre outings of 2005, with an incredible cast that burns up the screen. Touchstone Home Entertainment's new unrated version of the film doesn't add anything substantial to the theatrical cut. Regardless of that marketing ploy, this is an excellent end-of-the-year DVD release that is sure to please fans of the psychological thriller genre.
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