Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
Dark Water (Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara) (2003)

Already snaffled by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks company for a Hollywood remake, Japanese director Hideo Nakata's belated follow-up to "Ringu" and "Ring 2" is a thoroughly creepy exercise in psychological terror.

Returning to the parental theme of the earlier films, "Dark Water" starts with single mum Yoshimi (Hitomi Kuroki) and her five-year-old daughter Ikuko (ultra-cute moppet Rio Kanno) moving into a new apartment.

But the ramshackle building - a cross between an East European Skoda factory and a prison - comes with its fair share of problems. As soon as they sign the lease, water starts dripping from a malignant-looking damp patch on the ceiling.

Yoshimi is convinced that the water has something to do with the abandoned apartment above them. So when Ikuko starts wandering off in the lift and the ghost-like figure of a little girl begins stalking the corridors, it's apparent that there's more going on here than just a few leaky blocked pipes.

While the mystery is decidedly obvious (most viewers will piece it together within the first half hour), there's much to enjoy (and terrify) here, not least the disturbingly claustrophobic atmosphere of humid rainstorms and family tensions.

Handling his set-pieces with real flair (Ikuko's disastrous game of hide and seek will leave those of a nervous disposition gibbering under their seats), Nakata buoys up the script's lulls with some memorable shocks.

What's more, by framing the psychological terror with a series of fraught symbols likely to have Dr Freud spinning in his grave with excitement, the film's story of female hysteria is fascinatingly over-wrought

It may lack the balls-to-the-wall chill factor of "Ringu", but this is one horror movie unlikely to sink without trace.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hideo Nakata

Stars: Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Shigemitsu Ogi, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa

Genre: Horror, Thriller, World Cinema

Length: 101 minutes

Cinema: 06 June 2003

Country: Japan

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