Reviews

Dark Water

4

Japanese director Hideo Nakata sure knows his ghost stories. After the crawling techno-panic of Ringu, this mother-and-daughter-in-peril chiller plumbs the same depths of supernatural unease.

The story's a classic urban myth: divorced mum Yoshimi (Hitomi Kuroki) moves into an apartment block with her daughter (Rio Kanno), only to discover there is a strange patch of damp on the ceiling. Does she redecorate? Nah, she instead goes quietly insane, slowly becoming convinced that the ghost of a previous resident haunts the flat.

Assured, creepy and decidedly adult (no smart-mouthed teens here), this virtuoso shocker wraps itself around your fear glands and wrings them dry. Those scrabbling for Western reference points need look no further than Roman Polanski's Repulsion or Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now, Nakata's favouring of insidious menace over cheap jolts reaping shudderyrewards. In a mediocre year for US horror, Dark Water emerged as 2003's best cine-shiver.

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