Dark Water

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Dark Water Movie Poster Image
This scary movie is too creepy for little kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Parents argue, mother leaves her child at school.

Violence

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

Sex
Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bySwsMiss April 9, 2008
Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008
Teen, 16 years old Written byBryn Clare August 14, 2012

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...
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpielberg00 June 9, 2011

Faithful to the short story, which was written by the same person who wrote the book that inspired "The Ring". "Dark Water" is not as good as "The Ring", but it's significantly scarier.

My rating: PG-13 [borderline with R] for disturbing images and sequences, some strong language and a brief scene involving drug use. [NOTE: The language in t...

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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