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Dark Water

By Bret McCabe | Posted 7/13/2005

Director Walter Salles’ butt-clinchingly calm scare is an old-fashioned ghost story that exploits two fundamental facts: an almost constant, barely audible sound of water dripping is hellishly unsettling, and little girls are freaking spooky. Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) separates from her husband, Kyle (Dougray Scott), with extreme prejudice, and she and her young daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade) move to a nightmarish 1970s housing project on Roosevelt Island in the East River. No sooner have they settled into this ruddy building—the movie’s palette is the burnt amber of a lifelong smoker’s fingertips—when strange things go afoot. A puddle forms on their bedroom ceiling from the above apartment. The laundry room washing machines spit out a sewage-colored spew. And Ceci’s imaginary friend Natasha might be something other than mere make-believe. Through it all, Dahlia fights chronic migraines and an escalating custody battle with her husband, who claims she is mentally unstable. You see where Dark Water is heading before it gets there, but it’s more about the how than the what, and it delivers some righteously creepshow images. Scream of 2005 thus far: one tiny little hand shooting out of a bubble bath clawing for life.

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