|Directed by||Hideo Nakata|
|Produced by||Taka Ichise|
|Written by||Hideo Nakata
|Distributed by||Toho Company Ltd.|
|Release date(s)||January 19, 2002|
|Running time||101 min.|
Dark Water is a 2002 Japanese horror film directed by Hideo Nakata, the director of Ring and Ring 2. Dark Water is based on Floating Water, a short story by Koji Suzuki. Its Japanese name is Honogurai mizu no soko kara (仄暗い水の底から), which is also the name of the horror anthology by Koji Suzuki. There is also a manga adaptation that holds little similarity to the film, although the apartment building is identical.
The plot involves a woman, Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki), who, in the midst of an unpleasant divorce, moves to an eerie, run-down apartment building with her young daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). The ceiling of their apartment has a dark and active leak. Yoshimi discovers that the upstairs apartment, which appears to be the source of the leak, was formerly the home of a young girl named Mitsuko Kawai (Mirei Oguchi), who was of similar age to her daughter. The child had attended the same kindergarten Ikuko now attends. Mitsuko was abandoned by her mother and vanished more than a year ago. She also had owned a red bag which was the same bag that Ikuko found on the apartment roof when first viewing the apartment.
Many incidents then happen repetitively, becoming stranger each time. The red bag is disposed of, but then found by Ikuko on the roof; Yoshimi throws it away again, only to find it herself later. The bag fills Yoshimi with a sense of dread that she is unable to explain. Ikuko is apparently talking to Mitsuko in the bathtub. The leak in the ceiling worsens. Hair is found in tap water. Yoshimi gets glimpses of a girl looking like Mitsuko. Ikuko passes out at school when she sees Mitsuko walking towards her while she is hiding, then again in the apartment upstairs, where water is pouring heavily from the walls.
From the beginning, the audience is shown the involvement of a supernatural girl, but Yoshimi only gradually believes it. Her growing hysteria could lose her the right to keep her daughter, so her lawyer pressures her not to panic. At one point she decides to move away, but her lawyer convinces her that someone is playing tricks on her and that moving now would weaken her position in her divorce, so she stays.
One evening, after yet another strange occurrence involving the red bag, Yoshimi is drawn to the roof of the building, and there discovers the truth about Mitsuko. While examining the building's water tank she notices that it was last inspected - and thus opened - over a year ago, the day Mitsuko was last reported seen. She comes to the sudden horrific realization via a vision that Mitsuko had fallen into the tank while trying to retrieve her red bag, and then drowned. The tank had since become the home to the child's spirit, eventually seeking in death a replacement for the mother who had abandoned her in life. The water tank then bangs and the metal is dented outwards, causing Yoshimi to scream and run back to the building.
Meanwhile, Ikuko, who has been left alone in the apartment, vainly attempts to turn off the bath taps, which have suddenly started to spurt filthy brown water. Mitsuko's spirit then emerges from the bathtub and attempts to drown Ikuko.
Intending to immediately escape the building, Yoshimi rushes back to her apartment only to find Ikuko unconscious on the bathroom floor, in danger of dying from her attempted drowning. Clutching her child to her chest she rushes from the apartment and into the building's elevator, fleeing from the apparition of Mitsuko. But as the door to the elevator closes she sees that the figure pursuing her is in fact her own daughter - and realizes that who she carried with her was not her own daughter, but the ghost/reanimated corpse of Mitsuko, who now wishes to claim Yoshimi as her own mother in a torrent of water. Yoshimi realizes that Mitsuko won't let her go and will just kill Ikuko if she doesn't agree to become her mother. With Ikuko looking on in tears, Yoshimi sacrifices herself by staying to appease Mitsuko, and thus saves her daughter. The elevator ascends to the next floor and Ikuko follows, but when the doors open, filthy brown water pours out and there is nobody in the elevator.
The last moments of the film shows Ikuko, who is now sixteen years old (Asami Mizukawa), visiting the (now abandoned) apartment block. As she walks around, she notices that her old apartment looks oddly clean. She then sees her mother, and they have a conversation. Ikuko remembers that her mother once told her that as long as she was with her, she'd be all right. She inquires if she still feels this way, which her mother affirms. She then pleads to stay with her mother. Yoshimi smiles, but tells Ikuko that she's sorry it can't happen. At the same time, Mitsuko can be seen standing behind Ikuko. Sensing someone behind her, Ikuko warily turns around, but sees no one. When she turns back again, Yoshimi has also disappeared. As she leaves the apartment block, Ikuko realizes that her mother's spirit has been watching over her.
The film's theme of a drowned innocent child transforming into a malevolent spiritual force is almost identical to that of Ring, although in Ring the spirit (Sadako Yamamura) returns to avenge her death while Mitsuko seeks companionship. This may be because both of the original books were written by the same author, Koji Suzuki.