Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 30th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2002
Director: Hideo Nakata
Writers: Takashige Ichise, Hideo Nakata, Ken’ichi Suzuki, Yoshihiro Nakamura
Cast: Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa, Fumiyo Kohinata, Yu Tokui, Isao Yatsu
BluRay released: October 10th, 2016 (UK) / October 11th, 2016 (USA)
Approximate running time: 101 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $34.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Synopsis: In the middle of a custody battle a mother and her six-year-old daughter movie into a dilapidated that where a young girl disappeared from a few years ago. At first glance their new home appears to be idyllic place for them to get through the tumultuous time in their lives. That is until one day when bizarre things start occurring like water flowing from various places and the reemergence of the girl who went missing years ago.
Dark Water was co-written and directed by Hideo Nakata whose other notable films include, Don’t Look Up, Ringu, Ringu 2 and Chaos. Key collaborators on Dark Water include, screenwriter / filmmaker Yoshihiro Nakamura (The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker, Fish Story) and cinematographer Jun’ichirô Hayashi (Pulse, Cyborg Girl). The screenplay for Dark Water was adapted from author Koji Suzuki’s novel of the same name.
There are films that have scary moments and then there are films that truly frighten you! It is this latter category for which Dark Water falls into. Instead of creating a monster that can easily be categorized, this film takes on universal themes that everyone can identify with and from there the evil is unleashed.
And where horror cinema from Hollywood inundates its viewers with graphic moments of blood soaked carnage. Horror cinema from Japan takes an approach that is the direct opposite as it slowly builds its foreboding mood until its crescendos at the finale.
The narrative is meticulously constructed in such a way that there is never a throw away moment. With each event and everything that appears in the frame playing an integral role in the story at hand. And the main characters are well defined and their motivations are never in doubt.
Another strength of this film is its visuals which create a tremendous amount of atmosphere and they do a great job reinforcing the mood. And though there are many standout moments visually that will send chills down your spine. No moment is more potent then this film’s moment of truth, where the mother is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Performance wise the entire cast are all good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance coming from Hitomi Kuroki (Sada) in the role of the Yoshimi Matsubara, the protagonist of the film. She delivers an utterly convincing performance that elevates all of this around her. Ultimately Dark Waters is a riveting melodrama about a family in a crisis.
Dark Water comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand-new transfer has been created and this transfer does a superb job retaining this films intended look. This is well authored disc and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. This is a film were mood plays a significant role. Fortunately, when it comes to range and depth this audio mix serves up sonic experience that delivers and then some.
Extras for this release include, T.V, spots (48 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), a teaser (35 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and a trailer for the film (1 minute 11 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), three archive interviews – the first archive interview with actress Hitomi Kuroki (7 minutes 57 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), the second archive interview with actress Asami Mizukawa (4 minutes 36 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and the third archive interview with composer Shikao Suga (2 minutes 52 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), an archive “Making of” featurette (15 minutes 48 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and three new interviews – the first of the new interviews is with director Hideo Nakata (26 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles), the second of the new interviews is with author Koji Suzuki (20 minutes 18 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and the third of the new interviews is with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi (19 minutes 15 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the archive interview with Hitomi Kuroki include, how Dark Water was the first horror film that she appeared in as an actress, why she chose to participate in this film, how the things that are frightening in Dark Water are not the things that one would normally associate with Horror films and how acting in a horror film differs from acting in other genres.
Topics discussed in the archive interview with Asami Mizukawa include, her audition footage, her thoughts about being chosen for the role of Ikuko as a teenager and how the script differs from the novel.
Topics discussed in the archive interview with Shikao Suga include, the main theme and the score for Dark Water and other films that he worked on.
The archive “Making of” featurette is essentially a collection of onset footage with cast & crew talking in-between takes.
Topics discussed in the interview with Hideo Nakata include, his origins as a filmmaker, working initially for Nikkatsu, Don’t Look Up and how it led to him directing the Ring, the areas where the film adaption of the Ring differs from its novel source, J- Horror and his thoughts about the genre / movement, creating special effects without CGI and other films that he worked on.
Topics discussed in the interview with Koji Suzuki include, what inspired him to become a novelist, his first novel the Ring, the film adaption of the Ring and why he chose Hideo Nakata to direct it and the two stipulations he requires whenever one of his writings is made into a film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Junichiro Hayashi include, how he started out as an assistant director and why he made the transition to cinematographer, his various collaborations with Hideo Nakata and what he was trying to achieve visually with Dark Water and the differences of what a cinematographer does in Japan verse America.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a twenty-eight-page booklet with cast & crew info, an essay about the film titled Dead Wet Girls written by David Kalat, an essay about the American remake titled An Uncommon Remake written by Michael Gingold and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Dark Water gets a solid release from Arrow Video.