Dark Water: The Darker Cut

Dark Water: The Darker Cut (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Camryn Manheim, Ariel Gade
Extras: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Previews

Feeling a sense of familiarity while watching "Dark Water", I couldn't help but become reminded of previous Japanese horror films that were remade for the North American audience such as "The Ring", "The Ring 2" and "The Grudge". To me, these re-makes all seemed to share a similar look and feel, which did not live up to the hype that I was expecting. Then again, few "over-hyped" films ever do. Thinking that I would be in for the usual alternate style of a Japanese story given a modern American makeover, I ended up somewhat surprised at the overall presentation of a well produced film with a good solid cast.

Dealing with a recent separation and pending divorce from her husband Kyle (Dougray Scott), Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) attempts to start a new life with her daughter in New York. Choosing to live in the suburb of Manhattan called Roosevelt Island, which offers cheaper rents while only being a five minute subway or tramcar ride from midtown Manhattan, Dahlia and her daughter Cecilia (Ariel Gade) soon realize that they are in a completely different world living on the island. The eeriness of the post-industrial apartment buildings provides just the right amount of creepiness to the story. Strange things start to happen after a dark wet stain is noticed on the bedroom ceiling, setting off a string of bizarre happenings that include a missing and presumed dead young girl that used to live in the apartment right above Dahlia and Cecilia. To go into more detail would potentially ruin the well planned twists and surprises awaiting the viewer.

Touchstone Home Video produces a great transfer for "Dark Water: The Darker Cut" featuring an anamorphic presentation with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Color saturation is well defined, offering a slight moody look with the use of a yellow-greenish tinge to the overall presentation. Black levels remain rich and deep providing tremendous details that are quite evident in close ups of facial features and the ever presence of the mysterious "Dark Water". The transfer is free and clear of dust or dirt particles, but does show signs of overused DNR (or Digital Noise Reduction), which rears its ugly head in a few scenes that feature windows with mesh inserts and causing a slight flicker. Aside from that minor annoyance, "Dark Water: The Darker Cut" is quite an enjoyable exhibition.

The provided Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack produces a well balanced soundstage. Featuring vocal reproduction that appears natural at all times and great use of the surrounds with the constant rain showers that appear throughout the film.

There is quite a bit of special features that come packaged with this edition of "Dark Water". First up is "Beneath the Surface: The Making of Dark Water", which is split into five separate featurettes. Beginning with "Beyond the Horror", "An Island Apart" that looks at the uniqueness of New York's Roosevelt Island neighborhood, "A Director's Vision" offers a good discussion with director Walter Salles, "Water by Design" and last but not least, "Deep Water". A separate featurette titled "The Sound of Terror" comes highly recommended if you share a love of sound, much like I do. Here you will meet the sound designers and hear their thoughts on how they provided "Dark Water" with an overall dismal, dark and heavy tone to enhance the frightening visuals of the film.

"Extraordinary Ensemble" offers discussions with cast and crew where they talk about their fondness of working with one another. "Analyzing Dark Water Scenes" is a neat segment that examines three key scenes. One of the scenes even allows the viewer to preview said scene with various separated audio tracks including; an audio commentary, raw production sound, Foley sound effects, ambient sound effects, music, ADR (automatic dialogue replacement), then hearing the completed scene with the final audio mix, pretty cool indeed.

Two short deleted scenes and a selection of previews round out this nice package of extras.

Presenting a tightly woven story with some good solid performances and unsettling imagery, "Dark Water" is a rather decent Americanized remake of the Japanese horror film, "Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara".