Dark Water

Dark Water is a Japanese movie based on the novel written by Koji Suzuki and directed by Hideo Nakata, creators of The Ring. There are two movies titled Dark Water, the original and a remake starring Jennifer Connelly. This is a review of the original movie, which is available on Amazon Prime.

The plot: Yoshimi moves into a creepy apartment complex with her six-year old daughter Ikuko. Soon strange things start happening: a little red book bag that keeps coming back, the spreading stain on the ceiling, glimpses of a little girl dressed in a yellow raincoat. The little girl doesn’t seem to like Ikuko, who is drawn to the water tower on the roof (water is a recurring theme in this movie). How far will Yoshimi go to protect her daughter?

There are a few things left unsaid: Yoshimi is fragile, maybe suicidal. She has no money and is in a nasty custody battle with her ex-husband. There’s no question of the reality of what happens here, but the events that occur in Dark Water mirror Yoshimi’s downward spiral, which is the best type of horror. Yoshimi does some stupid things in this movie, but when your life falls apart that will happen. She’s holding on by tips of her fingernails, so she clings to Ikuko, but she also resents her daughter. It’s no coincidence that the monster of Dark Water is a child who wants love.

Dark Water has lots of good jump scares, but that’s not the point. This movie reminds me of a tragedy in a L.A hotel involving a water tower. There was footage of a girl in an elevator, which I’m not going to link to, because it’s easy enough to find on YouTube. People seem to think the video is spooky and that the woman is talking to ghosts, when what we’re really seeing is a person in the midst of a breakdown.

Highly recommended!


Secret of Evil

Set in Lima, Peru, Secret of Evil is found footage. The plot: four idiots vanish after spending the evening in a haunted house; afterwards, the authorities find the footage of their night from Hell. There are about a million of these types of movies out there. Sometimes it’s an insane asylum, sometimes it’s an abandoned prison, in this case it’s a haunted house. The IMDB entry for Secret of Evil says that the movie cost $300,000 (est.) to make, which might explain the popularity of this subgenre.

The story begins with a dude in a lunatic asylum. Lunatic asylum dude stares at the camera, babbles nonsense and then starts throwing stuff around. We then cut to our youthful (college age?) heroes, who interview a bunch of actors playing historians and folklorists. They learn three stories about the evil infecting the house. The stories are garbled and I had trouble telling them apart, but that might have been the subtitles. Or maybe I was tired. Or I might have been playing Chess on my phone because parts of this movie are really dull. Anyhow, we learn the house is a Bad Place.

To be honest, I’m not even sure why our youthful heroes want to go into the house. One of them mentions a school project, while the other makes it seem like they are budding reality stars. They  bribe the guard to get in. That didn’t make much sense until we learn that the house is across the street from the American Embassy, so I’m guessing the Americans pay the guard to ensure nobody sneaks into the house (like they’re doing) to spy on them? The house is a piece of crap in the middle of a modern city, so I don’t even know why it’s still standing. One of Secret of Evil’s many unanswered questions.

The usual hijinks ensue. If you watch found footage movies, you know the routine.  They set up the cameras, which shows us things the kids don’t see. Check. The characters have very basic personalities; they’re mostly annoying, so that we’ll root for them to die. Check. There’s the woman who yells at everybody, the surly camera guy, the quack psychic. I kept expecting the psychic – who is twice the age of our youthful heroes – to say ‘Come into the light, Carol Anne.’

Our heroes wander aimlessly around the house. The quack psychic opines. There are some good jump scares, but a few of the effects made me laugh rather than shriek – not a good sign. The scariest part of Secret of Evil is the creepy nursery, because ghost kids. The last ten minutes dragged, because who cares? The Boss Ghost looks like the malevolent spirit from The Woman in Black.

Secret of Evil is available on Netflix Streaming. If you enjoy found footage movies, there are worst ways to spend an hour and twenty minutes of your life. Otherwise, don’t bother.