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Japan, 2001 (MIFF 2002, Regional Focus)

Director: Hideo Nakata

"From the director of the superb Ring and Ring 2. A young mother is plagued by visions of the ghostly presence of a drowned girl which seem to strip away the reassuring surfaces of modern-day Japan to reveal an alternative world of fear and superstition. But while Ring's horror involved a widening circle of connections spreading out through society, Dark Water's haunting is restricted to a single block of flats, into which the recently-divorced Yoshimi moves with her six-year-old daughter Ikuku. Dark Water is an absorbing, rewarding chiller, exploring primal grief and abandonment fears." - LA Times

The ambiguity of Dark Water is in determining whether a true haunting is being witnessed or whether we are seeing the mental decline of a struggling solo mum going through a messy divorce. Even without seemingly supernatural occurrences, the apartment block they move to looks like it belongs in an outer circle of hell. Yoshimi had a prior breakdown working as a proofreader of violent and sadistic horror novels - her husband is on the lookout for any reason to get custody of Ikuku. Dark Water is an adaptation of a novel by 'the Japanese Stephen King', Koji Suzuki, who also wrote the Ring films.

Hideo Nakata (born in Okayama, 1961) joined Japanese mega-studio Nikkatsu as an assistant director after graduating from Tokyo University. He debuted in 1996 with Ghost Actress and has specialised in genre films with the exception of the documentary Joseph Losey: The Man with Four Names (1998).

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