Comparing Japan and American version of Dark Water

Evan Williamson, Courier Staff

For this year’s Halloween, I thought I would do something a little different. You may already know this but there have been quite a few movies made in America that were originally released in another country. The most well known of these is “The Ring,” which was released in 2002 (a remake of Japanese horror film Ringu from 1998) and “The Grudge,” that was released in 2004 (a remake of Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge” from 2002). I am not that brave of a person and while I may see at least the Japanese versions of those films someday, I decided to choose a different movie to compare. Dark water is the movie I choose to compare, the Japanese version and American remake. The premise of this film doesn’t seem as scary as the others. Starting off with the American remake, the movie takes place in New York as a mom going through a divorce moves to Roosevelt Island with her daughter. Like a regular horror movie, the main characters make decisions that leave you scratching your head. Most of the characters in this movie are jerks, though a couple people redeem themselves in the end. The movie really wasn’t that scary, I mean I know enough horror tropes to turn the sound down a bit for scary scenes. Also, everything didn’t come to a head till the last 30 minutes. It had some unnecessary backstory, which helped you feel for the mother but had hardly anything to do with the main story. The story is tragic, a little girl drowns because both her mother and father thought she was with the other. She was jealous of the main character’s daughter and attempted to drown her in the bathtub locking the shower door, so the mother couldn’t get to her. The mother begs the spirit to let her daughter go promising to be the ghosts mother forever. The bathroom floods the apartment as the ghost of the girl is joined by the now ghost of the mother.

I think it would have been sad anyway, but the mother is played by Jennifer Connely who has an uncanny resemblance to my best friend, so it hits closer to home. The ending was sad, but in the end, the ghost girl now has a mother to love her and the ghost mother tells her real daughter that she will always be with her. Not really a horror movie per se, but it was still a little messed up. In the original Japanese version, I was surprised at how similar it was (I mean its a remake, so it shouldn’t be that surprising). Despite the similarities, the way it carried itself was different. For one thing, it was scarier because there wasn’t a lot of music, it was quiet which makes you feel uneasy. there were also weird sound effects when it showed the water leaking and other things. Additionally, there were things going on in the background to help move the plot forward. Unlike the American version, the original doesn’t tell you exactly what happened to the little girl that drowns leaving you making your own assumptions (if you hadn’t already seen the remake). I kind of liked the ending, I mean I enjoyed the happier ending of the American version. But unlike the remake, in the original, the daughter watches in confusion as her mother is holding the ghost child in the elevator with tears in her eyes she tells her daughter not to come in. The daughter follows using the stairs and when she catches up a wave of water comes out of the elevator. With the mother and ghost girl gone, the daughter sits on the ground alone calling for her mama. Ten years later the daughter now in high school, visits the old apartment that has since been abandoned. She finds her old apartment in good condition, as she looks around she sees her mother who looks the same as she did the last time she saw her. The daughter wants to stay with her, but the mother says she can’t. You then see the ghost girl behind the daughter, but when she turns around she’s gone. Then in another sad scene, the daughter turns back, and her mother is gone (presumably a ghost now as well). The movie ends with the daughter leaving the building. That is just sad. Japanese horror targets you more psychologically than American horror where there’s blood and unnecessary jump scares. I liked both movies but as far as a good Halloween movie to watch I give the win to Honogurai Mizu no soko kara (“From the bottom of Dark Water”). The horror is subtle making it more realistic, which makes it scarier. It will definitely affect you in some way, I am still thinking about the ending.