Dark Water (2005)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 16-Feb-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-Beneath The Surface
Featurette-The Sound Of Terror
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Extraordinary Ensemble
Featurette-Analyzing Dark Water Scenes
Featurette-Alternate Sequence: Wall Of Water
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 100:21
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:01) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Walter Salles
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Jennifer Connelly
John C. Reilly
Tim Roth
Dougray Scott
Pete Postlethwaite
Camryn Manheim
Ariel Gade
Perla Haney-Jardine
Debra Monk
Linda Emond
Bill Buell
J.R. Horne
Elina Löwensohn
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Angelo Badalamenti
Phil Marshall


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
Icelandic
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    In 2004 when I reviewed the thriller Honogurai mizu no soko kara by Ringu Director Hideo Nakata, I stipulated that a Hollywood remake would be certainty. Imagine my lack of surprise when an English language remake was unveiled with Brazilian Walter Salles behind the camera. It seems that what was a largely mediocre Japanese language thriller to begin with has been cleverly translated into an equally average English language thriller. Why do they bother?

    Dahlia Williams (Jennifer Connelly) and her husband Kyle (Dougray Scott) are in the midst of a messy separation, a divorce that sees their young daughter Cecilia (Ariel Gade) caught in the middle of a dispute over custody and visitation. Much to Kyle's dismay, Dahlia and Cecilia move away to a dishevelled apartment block, poorly maintained and decrepit, but the rent is in their price range and a school is conveniently nearby. Initially, Cecilia is openly disgusted by the prospect of living there but her tone changes when she discovers a child's backpack on the rooftop. Soon she begins acting strangely, speaking to an imaginary friend and misbehaving in school. The finger is pointed at the current family stresses, but there is much more to her current state than meets the eye. Is it connected to the strange black water that seems to leak throughout the building? Their doorman Mr. Veeck (Pete Postlethwaite) is ambivalent to their needs but they befriend a lawyer, Jeff Platzer (Tim Roth), who is considerably more sympathetic to their housing dilemmas. Loud footsteps in the empty unit upstairs, bizarre nightmares and water leaks everywhere start to take their toll on Dahlia and her sanity begins to unravel. How can she stop the Dark Water?

    I must say that the performances in this film are great across the board, particularly young Ariel Gade. Tim Roth is barely recognisable at first as the go-getting lawyer and Pete Postlethwaite shines in what is an unusually small role for him. John C. Reilly is outstanding as the shrewd landlord.

    Watching the featurettes on this disc you would be forgiven for thinking that many man-hours were spent creating a unique vision for this film, however I am not convinced. Not only do the films look very similar palette-wise, but many of the audio effects and soundtrack triggers are identical to the Japanese original. Take for example the shrill noise that occurs when the ceiling stain is in shot. Director Walter Salles has retained the dark ambience and certain other artistic aspects that helped Hideo Nakata's original film work on a subliminal level, however Salles has removed many of the story's supernatural elements and in turn has removed part of the mystery and suspense, I believe. More importantly, how can a Director move from such an inspiring work as The Motorcycle Diaries to such a derivative job as this? Hollywood sure works in mysterious ways.

    If you aren't aware of the original film in any shape or form, then those of you that enjoy a good thriller with a touch of genuine human drama will more than likely find this a worthwhile outing thanks to the strong cast and magical score by Angelo Badalamenti. For those of us who know the original well and haven't succumbed to curiosity yet, it may be wise to keep expectations to a minimum.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The detail and overall clarity of the image varies a little from one scene to the next. There appears to be intermittent film grain issues within the source print, but I wouldn't rate the degree of grain here as overly annoying - just enough to affect the level of fine detail. Shadow detail is translated well to the screen; a facet of the transfer that is particularly important due to the many dark scenes involved. Black levels are deep and solid when they need to be. I didn't notice any low level noise in the transfer.

    The film's colour palette has undergone significant grading in post production, leading to a heavily washed out, muted appearance. I don't recall there being any dramatic use of bright, bold colouring at all. That said, there are no issues regarding colour rendering or oversaturation present.

    The MPEG bitrate is highly variable and the transfer is encoded at an average bitrate of 5.4Mb/s. I didn't notice any compression issues, however a few minor film artefacts can be seen - these never extend beyond tiny specks of dust and dirt.

    English subtitle streams are included on the disc, in both Hearing Impaired and standard forms. The font is large and well paced with the dialogue. A myriad of other languages are also available - in fact, these subtitle options actually cover both the feature and extra material.

    The disc is dual layered, with a layer transition placed during the feature at 76:01. This is a relatively silent moment in the middle of a scene.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, the default of which is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). A dubbed Spanish equivalent is included as well as an English Descriptive Audio soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). For this review I listened to the default English soundtrack and briefly sampled the other two options.

    The English dialogue is clear and easy to discern in the mix. The film's ADR is totally seamless and natural. Audio sync is perfect.

    When it comes to the use of the surround channels this surround mix has atmosphere, but left me a little disappointed. I felt that there was not nearly enough surround activity considering the scope of the film, and with it being such a recent production this surround mix was way too reserved for my tastes. Subtle atmospherics can be heard fairly consistently in the rear channels and a voice pops up behind the viewer at 72:30. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray. I noted a few good examples of frontal panning with the elevator doors as well.

    In comparing the soundtracks I found that the English and Spanish have been mastered at a comparable level, with little to separate them (aside from the language of course). The English Descriptive Audio voices sound the same as those found on most other films with this option, such as Kill Bill Vol. 2.

    The excellent, haunting, melodic score by Angelo Badalamenti is in my opinion the film's best attribute. The themes found here have a disturbing quality, yet they are also at times light and melodic. The score is highly memorable and easily ranks as one of my favourites in this genre. Additional credit is given to Phil Marshall for certain music in the film, however I'm not entirely sure what his contribution specifically was.

    The subwoofer is used effectively to build tension and offer unsettling rumbles at the right moments. The LFE channel also springs to life for dedicated effects and mechanical sounds such as the noisy street trams in the city.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are some interesting features available here, while other portions are very superficial. Little is mentioned of this film being a remake, in fact more comparisons are made to Polanski's Rosemary's Baby than Hideo Nakata's original. Aside from the menus, none of the extra material is 16x9 enhanced.

Menu

    The menu pages are animated with images from the film, along with audio clips. All of the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette- Beneath the Surface: The Making of Dark Water (15:46)

    The film's Director, Screenwriter and Producers collectively express their desire to avoid common clichés that would pigeonhole the film into the 'horror' genre. Perhaps a bit of cliché is what the film is missing. The cast discuss shooting on New York's Roosevelt Island, with the interviewees including stars Dougray Scott, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Tim Roth, and little Ariel Gade. A lot of area is covered in this short featurette, from the choice of locations to the complex set design and certain difficulties that were faced while shooting. This is separated into five chapters and includes the same subtitle options as the feature.

Featurette- The Sound of Terror (7:16)

    We are given some insight into the film's sound design and what is involved in the mixing stage of post production. The staff responsible for the film's audio effects wanted the soundtrack to be believable and realistic without drawing attention to itself. This production motto could explain why I found the surround mix so bland.

Deleted Scenes (2)

    Two deleted scenes are presented here, playable individually or via a Play All function. The first, Dahlia At The Laundromat (0:42), is very brief. Ceci And Kyle In The Car (1:08) shows a little more father-daughter interaction for the film's finale. Both are rather superficial and not at all missed in the final cut.

Featurette- Extraordinary Ensemble (25:54)

    You may be interested to learn that the longest featurette to be found on the disc is also the least substantial. Funnily enough, this is the only place where we find mention of this film being a remake, mentioned in passing by one of the producers. We get to see young Ariel Gade's audition footage that landed her the role as Dahlia's daughter, but the remainder of the featurette includes person after person heaping praise on one another. Treacle-like in taste, nauseating in length and totally forgettable.

Featurette- Analysing Dark Water Scenes (7:11)

    Three key scenes from the film are explored, one of which has an interesting interactive function. It's particularly cool to hear the editor verbally dissect the scene and explain its construction and flow. The main character's dream sequence originally included an effect they dubbed the Wall Of Water, which is explored here. Also discussed is the recording of ADR. The Interactive Bathroom Sequence boasts seven discrete soundtracks that can be switched on the fly, one of which is a commentary by re-recording mixer Scott Millan. Other soundtracks cover specific elements of the mix including ADR, effects, location audio and the like. I enjoyed this one.

Alternate Sequence: Wall Of Water (4:06)

    Here we have an alternate edit of Dahlia's dream sequence and subsequent headache, incorporating the abovementioned Wall Of Water scene. Strangely, this piece is presented in 1.33:1, pan & scan.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 disc has been released with an 'unrated' badge and an NTSC runtime of approximately103 minutes. I can't find any evidence to suggest that our cuts are different. The Region 1 disc misses out on the following:

    It looks like our local product is the way to go if you would like to make a purchase.

Summary

    Dark Water is a good thriller, but my preference lies with the Japanese original despite it being flawed in its own way. You could say I'm being generous with my overall score. This remake is worth a look - just don't expect too much.

    The video transfer is good.

    The audio transfer is okay, but not particularly lively.

    The extras vary in weight, but are worth looking at.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
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.

Other Reviews
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Michael J
Digital Retribution - Trist J

Comments (Add)
Supernatural elements - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED