Due to having seen a lot of Italian, German, British, US and even French horror over the years I have sadly neglected Japanese horror, or J-Horror as fans love to call it. So I decided to view the well regarded Dark Water, of which the remake is only more well known since it is is American. I liked this movie, particularly because Dark Water is as much a moving drama as it is a really creepy movie where very creepy things happen. Some which are only explained later on, which ups the creep factor even higher. I loved the eerie shots of the apartment building, and I was reminded of how horror movies love to use empty hallways to freak out the viewer. Well Dark Water and The Sixth Sense are both great examples of utilizing space and dim lighting to scare the viewer, making them feel very uneasy. It helps that the ghost in this movie is that kind of foreign ghost that does not care if you believe in them or not. Disbelief never helps people in a ghost movie.
Hitomi Kuroki is fantastic in this movie as the struggling mother trying to keep custody of her daughter after a bitter divorce. She is both sympathetic and overwhelmed, dealing with issues no mother should have to go through. Although the movie also focuses on her daughter, I felt that the movie went through Kuroki and that she was the reason Dark Water is such a near great film, one that anchors the dramatic elements and makes us care even as we are nervously waiting to see what happens next. Oh and I rather liked the final act, which served more as a coda than an ending, just because it was a haunting of a different kind. Hideo Nakata decides that living can be a tragedy in itself, and that we may see ghosts of any kind no matter where we go. They haunt us, giving us a window into a past that we often do not remember, and they never go away very easily.