As I come to the end of October, and the end of my daily look at my horror collection, I wanted to pick a film at random, but I wasn’t sure how. Over at Simply Syndicated‘s Simply Read, Jakob from Nerd Hurdles is using some kind of D&D dice thing to pick CDs at random, so I thought I’d try that, but I don’t have any weird nerd dice. So I thought about using real dice, but it turns out I have none of those. In the end, I went with the free playing cards we got from our local cable provider on the weekend. I came up with a scheme: the first card I pull at random indicates the shelf number, the second and third card indicate the disc. This ended up not working at all, because the first card I picked was a Jack, and there’s no shelf called Jack. This was a stupid idea. So I fired a Nerf gun at the shelf, waited for a dart to actually stick, and picked the closest horror DVD.
I hoped it would land on something really cool. It didn’t. It landed on a disc I forgot I had. This turned out to be Dark Water, which I paid money to see in the theatre.], and later bought on DVD because it was really cheap and I forgot that I didn’t like it in the theatre. I liked it a bit better on DVD. But not much.
This, like The Ring and The Grudge, is an American J-horror remake, and it’s thematically and stylistically similar. I’ve never seen the original, and I probably won’t, because the whole thing got tired about five years ago. Anyway, Dark Water stars Jennifer Connelly — who I really, really like — as a single mom who moves with her daughter to an apartment on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Something is wrong with the apartment upstairs. Evil water runs through the corridors. Yes, evil water. There are messages from the grave, and the child is tapped into something … you know where this is going.
I wanted to like this, because Roosevelt Island is a fascinating part of NYC, and I’ve always wanted to see more of it than we saw at the end of the first Spider-Man movie. Dark Water gives us that, offers up a fascinating look at a slab of land, set apart from the city, that was turned into a cheesy strip of bland apartments and sterile streets. We get a nice tour of the island in this film. Unfortunately, this is supposed to be a horror movie, and the horror just isn’t there.
It is not a bad film. Like I said, the cinematography captures the locale wonderfully, and the crew does a fine job of focusing on Jennifer looking confused and sad. It just isn’t frightening, and it isn’t suspenseful, and after the first fifteen minutes you know exactly what’s going to happen.
As you know, I value atmosphere over jump-scares, mood over murder. There’s an honest attempt at building atmosphere here, but it doesn’t work; I suspect Connelly wasn’t nuts about doing this, because she never truly appears to be in fear, and if she isn’t, we aren’t.
If you never see this, you aren’t missing much. But if you do, you won’t be mad at yourself. Or at me.