Spoil 'Dark Water' for me!

As I’m not normally a goer-to-horror-films, as I usually find the pacing pretty abysmal, I’m especially wary of this one, as I’ve been told the pacing is bad, even for a ‘psychological horror’ film. So, anyone who’s seen it… Chime in. Did the plummer do it?

Here ya go!

I watched the Japanese verison.

The plot is…uh,the weakest link.

But there’s a lot of suspenseful moments, and sometimes downright “eek!” scenes. Just don’t expect closure.


Single mum and daughter moves to new apartment.
New apartment has water leaking from the ceiling.
Strange things happen around aparment.
Young daughter sees ghostly young girl.
Discover a young girl disappeared long time ago from the apartment above.
Hair is found in tapwater.
Flood happens.
Mum tries to escape with young girl.
Comes to elevator only to realise that she grabs the ghostly young girl by mistake.
Ghostly girl calls single mom her mom.
Mum disappears into elevator.
Girl grows up under foster care.
Return one day to ghostly apartment.
Sees mother back at apartment.
See ghosty girl as well.
Cue creepy music.
The end.

American version:

Single mum and daughter move to new apartment.
Mum and daughter’s father are engaged in custody battle; Mum has had migraine headaches and past “emotional problems”.
New apartment has water leaking from the ceiling.
Strange things happen in upstairs apartment and on roof.
Young daughter talks to imaginary friend Natasha.
Hair is found in tapwater.
Flood happens in upstairs apartment where no one lives.
Mum tries to get apartment fixed.
Mum gradually realizes that Natasha had been abadoned by her mom and pop who had lived upstairs. Mum had been abandoned by her mother when she was little too, so she can identify.
Mum realizes that Natasha had drowned in the rooftop water tower. Shades of The Ring.
Creepy super had seen her floating in the tower but said nothing, avoided cleaning it out and thus the floods of dark water from earlier.
Natasha’s body is removed and we think all will be well.
Daughter is playing in the bath when Natasha appears to the Mum and wants her to be her Mum now.
In order to save her own daughter from the ghost, Mum says she will stay with Natasha “forever”; Mum dies to save daughter.
Dad comes to take daughter to his house and while she is in the elevator, invisible ghostly Mum braids her hair and says she will always be around.
Cue creepy music.
The end.

It was definitely slowly-paced and not really scary. Once you get into the supernatural and can’t figure out what’s up, you can only wait for the action to unfold. John C. Reilly and Tim Roth were good, of course.

I saw the American remake but not the Japanese original.

Whether or not you think the pacing is off depends on what kind of movie you’re expecting.

The guy I saw it with was expecting a straight-out horror movie. On that level, it doesn’t work at all. It’s poorly paced, and it isn’t frightening in the least.

I got the clue about five minutes in that it wasn’t going to be a horror movie at all, and I watched it as a drama instead, specifically about a custody battle, that just happened to have a supernatural edge. In this light, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t great; it’s well-acted and features some subtle character work by an excellent cast, even though the story’s kind of wonky.

Call it Kramer vs. Casper.

How it ends:The ghost is a child who died by drowning in the apartment building’s rooftop water tank. She is angry about being abandoned by her parents, who moved away separately but simultaneously, both thinking the other had the girl. She is tormenting the Jennifer Connelly character and trying to get the real daughter out of the way because she wants a mother of her own. In the end, the mother agrees to be the ghost child’s mother, and is immediately killed in a deluge of flooding, while the daughter survives. Shortly after, as the daughter is leaving with her father, she is visited by her now-ghostly mother, and told that everything is all right and she can come back and visit.

The American version despoils the Japanese version. The main point of the Japanese was maternal sacrifice. The child was better off with the father. The mother was damaged by her childhood and rotten mother. In one act she was able to ameliorate the curse and save the dead girl’s soul and also become the guardian spirit of her own daughter.


I have only seen the original Japanese version, which totally creeped me out (the only movie to have done so in ages). Is the US version equally creepy, or have they failed in that respect?

I think the Japanese verison is really creepy. I haven’t laid eyes on the US one and I doubt there’s a need to, since I have saw the original!

Creepy moments in the Jap verison

The hello kitty bag.
Visitng the flooding aparment. It’s very dark and atmosphoric.
The water tank. It was as if something is trying to break out
The hair in the tapwater
There’s no proper closure to the case of the missing girl, unlike the US verison. You only have a vauge idea of the implications.

Some spoilers about the endings

At any rate, the ending to both movies are not mentioned in the original Dark Waters novel. The story officially ends with the water pouring out from the elevator and the disappearance of Mom. However, for the Jap verison, the author of the novel added in the ending of the daughter returning, like 10 or 15 years later, to the apartment.