Dark Water (Honogurai Mizu no Soko Kara) (2002)

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Released 21-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Montage, The Grudge, Volcano High, Yojimbo
Trailer-Seven Samurai, Infernal Affairs
Easter Egg-Isolated Score & Effects Soundtrack (Karaoke Mode)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 96:59 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Hideo Nakata
Kadokawa Shoten
Madman Entertainment
Starring Hitomi Kuroki
Rio Kanno
Mirei Oguchi
Asami Mizukawa
Fumiyo Kohinata
Yu Tokui
Isao Yatsu
Shigemitsu Ogi
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Kenji Kawai
Shikao Suga

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Isolated Score & Effects Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Ringu director Hideo Nakata has an excellent feel for the darker, creepier fears in all of us, and exploits them to the extreme. In Dark Water he has succeeded once again, although I wasn't quite as freaked out with this film as I was with The Ring. Perhaps it is because the styles are so alike - the photography, effects and overall appearance of the film is very similar to his previous work. Not that that's a bad thing, as I find Nakata's vision to be extraordinary and infinitely watchable.

    In Dark Water we follow Yoshimi Matsubara and her six year old daughter Ikuko, living together while custody of the girl is being decided by a pair of her parent's councillors. Ikuko's parents are in the midst of a messy divorce and she has been seen to withdraw, falling behind at school and rarely speaking. Yoshimi is seeking independence for herself and her daughter and sets out on her own, finding an apartment in a slightly decrepit and dingy building. The joint is a total bargain and she decides to move in, discovering very quickly that the place leaks like a sieve. The source of the water leak appears to be upstairs, where the heavy footsteps emanate from, but the tenants don't answer their door. On top of this the tap water is filthy and barely drinkable. With the stresses of her divorce and the faults of her apartment weighing upon her, she begins to see things in the shadows, lurking in the corridors - appearing as a small girl in a yellow raincoat. She discovers that her vision resembles a missing girl, and feels that the truth about her whereabouts may lie on the apartment's rooftop.

    If Dark Water has any shortcomings, they lie in its blatant similarities to other recent Japanese horror movies. In reality, it seems there is little to separate this film from The Ring or The Grudge - all three have a very similar premise involving a female antagonist with long, straight black hair looking for some form of retribution. It's these similarities that will lead some viewers to declare they've seen it all before, while others who are fans of the aforementioned films may adore it.

    It's safe to say that if you enjoyed Ringu, then you'll certainly enjoy this film. It doesn't quite have the magic of Nakata's earlier work, but it's still very well made and undeniably spooky. I recommend you watch it before Hollyweird pumps out the inevitable remake.

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Transfer Quality


    This is a pretty decent video transfer, with no major problems to report. The transfer is heavily window boxed on all sides, which may irritate projector users. On my 16x9 television I didn't notice any of the black borders, thanks to overscan.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect of 1.77:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This appears to be the film's original aspect ratio.

    Sharpness and general clarity is quite good throughout, with plenty of detail evident. Shadow detail is great, adding depth to the many darker scenes. There was no low level noise in the transfer.

    Most scenes are quite dim and grey, so there isn't a lot of bold colouring to be found. When the lighting is good, skin tones and other objects appear consistently rendered.

    There are a few minor film artefacts here and there, however these don't extend beyond beyond tiny specks of dust or dirt. There is a little film grain in places, but this never becomes a big problem. MPEG artefacts remain well controlled apart from a slight hiccough at 36:25 in which the bitrate struggles to cope with a steamy bathroom scene.

    The English subtitle stream is activated by default, and very easy to read. I didn't notice any spelling or grammatical errors of any kind.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 format), with the layer transition placed during the feature at 62:49 in an unobtrusive, still and silent moment.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three Japanese soundtracks to choose from, of which a Dolby Digital 5.1 stream is default. A Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo option is included and a dts alternative as well. There is also a fourth soundtrack which is only accessible as an Easter Egg: an isolated score and effects soundtrack presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s).

    The dialogue is clear and easy to discern in the mix. Even though I don't speak Japanese I found the spoken word problem free and perfectly in sync. The ADR is also seamless and unrecognisable.

    The use of the surround channels is consistent and enveloping. Voices are confined to the front centre channel, while effects such as rain and water drips flow from all channels. A set of elevator doors close behind the viewer at 9:00, and there are many other examples of dedicated use of the rear channels. Although the stereo stream isn't flagged, this soundtrack certainly does contain surround information. When processed with Pro Logic II the stereo stream performed similarly to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but contained much less depth.

    The score is contributed by Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell), and follows the mood of the film very well. This is one of those scores that if you weren't actively looking for it, you wouldn't know it's there.

    Obviously the dts track was my favourite of the soundtracks offered here, delivering slightly greater depth and a more spacious feel. The actual surround usage appeared to be identical in both the Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks.

    The subwoofer was used subtly, but effectively. The LFE channel made itself known on several occasions, adding bottom end to some dedicated effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The main menu page is preceded by a brief intro and includes some subtle animation as well as a few creepy noises from the feature. All of the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced and include very effective Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of rain and water dripping.

Theatrical Trailer (1:12)

    A typical trailer, highlighting the film's dark atmosphere and briefly touching on the plot. This is presented in 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese audio. English subtitles are also activated by default.

Eastern Eye Trailers (6)

    Trailers are included for other Eastern Eye titles The Grudge, Volcano High, Yojimbo, Infernal Affairs and Seven Samurai. The Eastern Eye montage trailer is also included, showing some upcoming titles. All are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and only the Infernal Affairs trailer is 16x9 enhanced.

Easter Egg- Isolated Score

    This is also known as a Karaoke function. To access the isolated score and effects soundtrack, play the theatrical trailer from the extras menu and press the enter button on your remote at any time. A Madman page will load, telling you that the Egg has been activated, followed by automatic playback of the feature with the isolated score. There are some long silences, but this is a very creepy way of watching the film. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and encoded at 224Kb/s.

Easter Egg (DVD Credits)

    Well, it's kind of an Easter Egg. In the extras menu, highlight the theatrical trailer and press your up arrow to highlight an Eastern Eye logo. Then press enter for a page of DVD credits, the same that is shown after the feature.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There doesn't appear to be a Region 1 release yet.

    The UK Region 2 disc by Tartan is also coded for all regions and has some cast biographies, but no real other extras aside from some trailers.

    The French Region 2 disc has almost an hour of interviews with the director and composer. It's likely that the extras are not English subtitled. The French disc also lacks a Japanese dts option.

    The Region 3 Hong Kong release has a Japanese dts-es soundtrack.

    Unless you're particularly fanatical about this film, I don't see any reason to import this disc.


    Dark Water is a great horror film, similar in style to the director's previous work, Ringu. The atmosphere is dark and succeeds in creating a very tense experience. I enjoyed this film a lot.

    The video transfer is good.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras only amount to a couple of trailers, but there is an interesting Egg there if you care to look for it.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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