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Dark Water (aka Honogurai Mizu no Soko kara, translating to "From Under the Murky Water") is a 2002 Japanese horror film directed by Hideo Nakata, best known for being the director of Ring and Ring 2. The film is based on Floating Water, a short story by Koji Suzuki (who also wrote the Ring series of novels), from a horror anthology of his, also titled Dark Water. There is also a manga adaptation that holds little similarity to the film, although the apartment building is identical.
The film was remade in the United States in 2005, under the same title.
The film follows Yoshimi Matsubara, who is in the midst of a messy custody battle with her (highly unpleasant) ex-husband over their young daughter, Ikuko. Desperate to prove herself to be a fit parent to Ikuko, she moves herself and Ikuko into their own place, which happens to be an apartment held in a run-down old building. The building is somewhat eerie, but it suits Yoshimi just fine, for the time being. However, shortly after moving in, she notices that the ceiling of their apartment has a sinister and inexplicable damp patch, which continues to expand day by day. In the midst of Yoshimi finding a new job and Ikuko starting a new school, many strange and frightening events occur, several of which involve the mysterious appearance (and subsequent re-appearances) of a child's red bag. Eventually, Yoshimi discovers the horrifying truth behind these events, and realises that she and her daughter are in huge danger from the supernatural force permeating the apartment block.
Not to be confused with the animated TV series The Pirates of Dark Water.
This film contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Yoshimi claims that her ex-husband has never been interested in Ikuko, not even bothering to remember her birthday. Also, Yoshimi's own mother, as well as Mitsuko's - both completely neglected their children.
- Adult Fear: The fear of losing a child.
- Anti-Villain: Mitsuko may be a creepy, malevolent ghost, but all she wants is a mother.
- Artifact of Doom: The red bag. Well, more like "Artifact of Dread", but, still.
- Bittersweet Ending: And how!
- Break the Cutie: That is, break all the cuties. Yoshimi herself comes pre-broken, having suffered a mental breakdown several years prior to the events of the film.
- Creepy Child: Mitsuko, big time. Also, Ikuko, usually the epitome of cuteness, has a couple of moments like this, such as the scene where she slowly starts to open the red bag, as if possessed, with an unbelievably creepy expression on her face. Brrrr.
- Crusty Caretaker: Present in both, but taken up to eleven in the American remake.
- Death by Adaptation: Yoshimi survives Floating Water, but dies in a Heroic Sacrifice in the film.
- Distant Finale: In the Japanese version.
- The Faceless: Mituko's face is usually partially (sometimes completely) hidden or obscured throughout the movie (it's even difficult to make out in her "missing person" poster) - at least, until the climactic elevator scene.
- Facial Horror: Mitsuko.
- Ghostly Goals
- Green-Eyed Monster: Mitsuko wants Yoshimi to be her mother... but she does not want to share her. Her solution? Repeatedly try to kill Ikuko.
- Haunted House - The entire apartment complex feels Mitsuko's influence, but Yoshimi's apartment suffers from it most of all.
- Hazardous Water - Well, yes.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Yoshimi.
- Infant Immortality: Averted in the case of Mitsuko. Played straight with Ikuko.
- Jerkass: Yoshimi's ex-husband is not a pleasant man.
- Jump Scare: The famous water tank scene.
- Mama Bear: Yoshimi and Dahlia.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The original short story, Floating Water, isn't entirely clear if there is a haunting at all, or if it is all in Yoshimi's mind - however, the ending suggests it is the latter. The US remake, however, is much more vague.
- Meaningful Background Event
- Mind Screw: The American remake is incredibly vague on whether it was all in Dahlia's mind, or a true haunting. Or both.
- Parental Abandonment: Yoshimi was abandoned by her mother at a young age. The same thing happened to Mitsuko. It's pretty obvious why Yoshimi feels some empathy for the little ghost.
- Shout-Out: The scene in which vast amounts of water crash out of the elevator is a reference to the scene with blood emerging from the elevator in the film version of The Shining.
- Slasher Smile: May or may not be intentional, but the smile on Ikuko's face when she first discovers the red bag is horribly unsettling. Much later, when she starts to open the bag, her smile manages to be even creepier. The way she is smiling in both of these scenes, the way the scenes are filmed and the accompanying creepy music score seem to imply that she may be supernaturally compelled to pick up and open the bag.
- Smug Smiler: Yoshimi's ex-husband.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The remake. Possibly.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The big scare involving the water tank.