Dark Water

A classy ghost story is just the ticket in a summer of crass jolts. Look at the pedigree: Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries, Central Station) directing Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly in an American remake of a Japanese horror hit from Ringu master Hideo Nakata. And if you want to get creeped out by water that drips, leaks, gushes and reflects dark mysteries, Tokyo has nothing on New York's Roosevelt Island. No sooner do Dahlia (Connelly), still fragile from a bitter separation, and her daughter Ceci (the eerily expressive Ariel Gade) cross the East River on a tram from Manhattan than the rain comes down. There are puddles in the elevator of the dilapidated but cheap apartment Dahlia rents from Mr. Murray (John C. Reilly, making fake cheer a study in evil), and what's the wet stain on the ceiling in the bedroom? But wait, no fair telling.

Screenwriter Rafael Yglesias (Fearless) stays alert to the psychological fears that underpin the supernatural doings in the apartment upstairs. Connelly digs deep into the role of a woman with issues of abandonment and rage that slowly reveal their roots. In a movie with more subtext than Rosemary's Baby, nearly everyone, including Tim Roth as Dahlia's lawyer, harbors secrets. Salles unleashes a torrent of suspense for one purpose: to plumb the violence of the mind.

From The Archives Issue 323: August 7, 1980