Dark Water

  • Review Date: December 19, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Common Sense Media says

This scary movie is too creepy for little kids.
  • Review Date: December 19, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Parents argue, mother leaves her child at school.

Violence

Implied violence (including drowning), and some scary, tense scenes.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An alcoholic mother appears in unnerving flashbacks; a character takes pills for migraine headaches.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the film features frightening scenes in which a young mother and her six-year-old daughter are haunted by a seeming ghost. The mother is also disturbed by flashbacks to a troubled past (her alcoholic mother tells her she "hates" her) and a custody battle with her estranged husband. The movie includes some language, tense family scenes, and jump scenes.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Dahlia's had a troubled childhood and is going through a custody battle over her daughter, Cecilia. When she and Ceci (Ariel Gade) move into a new apartment, Dahlia starts to notice strange things that she connects with previous tenants of the apartment above hers. While she fights her ex, Kyle (Dougray Scott), for custody, she also must deal with the supernatural – the ghost of a little girl abandoned by her parents.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Pushing the edge of PG-13 with regard to scary scenes and family tensions, DARK WATER's greatest strength is Jennifer Connelly. As Dahlia, a young mother in the midst of divorce, Connelly delivers a delicate, moving, and utterly convincing performance. A remake of director Hideo Nakata and writer Kôji Suzuki's 2002 film (they also made Ringu, source for The Ring), Walter Salles' movie creates a world that is rainy, spooky, and grim.

Dahlia's fear of being a bad mother like her own drives her to take repeated horror-movie style risks (walking into empty rooms, exploring the building's roof at night). Dahlia's experiences -- past and present, inside and outside, night and day -- begin to blur, as she's either believing or fulfilling Kyle's judgment that she's "wacko." She turns to a lawyer, Platzer (Tim Roth), who appears alternately quirky and reassuring. On one level, this seems funny (or ironic), that the lawyer is so unable to bring order to her nightmare; on the other hand, his inability to help suggests that Dahlia is abandoned, much as she has feared since she was a child. Horror movies frequently use the figure of the ineffective or bad mom (not to mention the murderous father; see the recent Hide and Seek), and so Dahlia's selfless resolve seems almost bracing. But Dark Water never develops either her particular dilemmas or responses beyond generic conventions. By film's end, it seems, she's still waiting.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the tensions between mother and daughter, in part caused by the mother's past (indicated by nightmares and flashbacks). How does the daughter's "imaginary friend" worry her mother? How does the antagonism between mother and father exacerbate their daughter's fears of abandonment, loss, and retribution? How does the external world (specifically, the apartment) serve as metaphor for mother and daughter's internal states?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 8, 2005
DVD release date:December 27, 2005
Cast:Jennifer Connelly, Pete Postlethwaite, Tim Roth
Director:Walter Salles
Studio:Buena Vista
Genre:Horror
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic material, frightening sequences, disturbing images and brief language.

This review of Dark Water was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byKS25 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Ah ok..........

I got dragged by a friend to go see it and she was freaked out but, it was an "ok" movie. I wasn't Impressed. Overall it was a safe movie for anyone over 12 to see.
Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Teen, 16 years old Written byBryn Clare August 14, 2012
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Dark Water

A great movie, epic thriller, keeping you thinking way after the movie is over. Way to scary for little kids though. There's no blood or fakey stuff. This movie has a ghost, but it really plays on how memories can haunt you, more than it's a ghost story. This film feels like it could be real, making it the perfect thriller.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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