RP002 Dark Water

(2005, Horror, color)


Matthew Elliott

I hear that drab is the new fabulous.

Rating: **

In a nutshell:

The ghost of an abandoned child haunts a divorcee and her daughter.


[Insert raw sewage joke here.]I suppose I could elaborate more on the one-sentence summary above, but seeing as how this movie was adapted from a Japanese horror film in the grand tradition of The Grudge, there isn’t much more to tell. For a country so focused on cramming so much into such small spaces in nearly every other aspect of their culture, their ghost stories are remarkably empty. But then, I’ve never managed to work up enough interest to watch the original; maybe it’s a breathtaking tour-de-force, filled with unbearable plumbing-related tension and genuinely terrifying water stains. It could just be the American remake that seems so lifeless, squatting inside the burnt-out husk of its Eastern progenitor like a blank-eyed, urine-stained vagrant. Doesn’t sound likely, but I admit it’s possible.

Oh well. I guess I can give you a few more details. Rather than muck around with all the flashback tomfoolery, I’ll just tell you that a little girl was once abandoned by both her parents in an apartment building, then accidentally fell into a water tower and drowned. Thereafter, her spirit haunts a recent move-in named Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter in the form of a malfunctioning elevator, slowly spreading patches of mildew, and the drip, drip, drip of leaky pipes. Yes, it’s every bit as exciting as it sounds. Finally, the ghost threatens to drown the daughter unless Dahlia comes to be her mother instead. Dahlia agrees. The ghost girl kills her. The end.

Jennifer Connelly, looking traumatized, standing ankle-deep in a flooded apartment.  That's pretty much all you need to know about the film.Other elements exist, to be sure. There’s an acrimonious divorce, a creepy caretaker (Pete Postlethwaite) and a homeless attorney. Why is he homeless? As lawyers go, he seems competent enough. And Postlethwaite was arrested…why? I thought the ghost girl’s death was accidental. And what does any of this have to do with the ghost story in the previous paragraph?


Once again, I am faced with the difficulty of trying to write about a movie in which nothing happens. And yet here I am, writing words whose sole purpose is to fill space, trying to distract you from the fact that I have nothing to say about it. But now I’ve just attempted to distract you from my purpose by drawing attention to it. I admit it; I’m not very good at distraction. Neither is the movie.

I’m not sure whether the previous sentence qualifies as insightful. Whether it does or not, I’m moving on.

Just so you know, the amazing and terrifying object of their awe-struck stares is a patch of mildew.Regarding the commentary, this is the first Rifftrax to feature guest riffer Matthew J. Elliott. He’s world famous in England, I think, but since I don’t really follow British mystery novelists who aren’t Doyle or Christie, this is the first I’ve heard of him. As a riffer, he passes with fairly high marks; his timing is good and his writing is clever. A few favorite lines: “The famous Seattle shower of 1974, due to finish any day now,” “This movie has the amazing ability to make happiness look utterly miserable,” and “Did I remember to take off my slime-tinted contact lenses before watching this movie?” His delivery differs from previous guest riffers rather drastically in that his voice is always measured and calm, a tone that combines with his accent to make it sound like he’s narrating The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. This is more of an observation than a criticism, though. I like the way his commentary sounds more like gentle teasing than outraged mockery. My time spent with Dark Water was not a total loss, and this is largely thanks to his efforts on my behalf.