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Dark Water (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A middle-aged woman going through a nasty divorce and custody battle moves into a rundown apartment with her young daughter and begins experiencing water-related oddities linked to a girl who went missing.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Nakata Hideo directed this smash J-horror film, which itself got an American remake just as the director’s breakthrough Ringu. Dark Water follows middle aged Matsubara Yoshimi (Kuroki Hitomi) who is going through a nasty divorce and custody battle. Moving into a new apartment with her five-year-old daughter Ikuko (Kanno Rio), Yoshimi notices a patch of dirty water dripping from the celling which she dismisses since the price on the apartment is such a good value. Yoshimi’s history of mental illness works against her in the Japanese courts which would normally favor the mother. All of this adds to her stress and the breakdown that occurs, and people’s disbelief when she begins experiencing strange occurrences in her new rundown apartment that seem to be linked to the death of a girl around the same age as Ikuko. A creepy girl in a yellow raincoat with a red schoolbag keeps appearing to Yoshimi and what is even stranger, the red schoolbag keeps showing up in various locations regardless of her throwing it away multiple times. Eventually all will be revealed, but not before a harrowing turn of events and a journey that will leave viewers fearing every leaky faucet, filled bathtub, or murky kitchen sink in their home.

Nakata is more successful with the horror in this film than the sequel to Ringu, Ringu 2, evoking incredible atmospheric horror firmly rooted in the psychological and domestic. The classic long-black-haired woman of Japanese horror permeates the film and Nakata’s visual style of desaturated, sometimes amorphous, and always brilliantly terse and acted, is one the standouts of the J-horror wave that swept the film world.

Link: Purchase Dark Water (Limited Edition) 4K Ultra HD on Amazon.com

  • Kuroki Hitomi and Kanno Rio in Dark Water (2002)
  • Mizukawa Asami in Dark Water (2002)
  • Dark Water (2002)
  • Dark Water (2002)
  • Kuroki Hitomi in Dark Water (2002)
  • Dark Water (Limited Edition) (Arrow Video - AV558)
  • Dark Water (Limited Edition) (Arrow Video - AV558)

The Video

Dark Water was original filmed on 35 mm Fuji Super F-125T 8532 and Super F-400T 8582 film stock. This remaster uses a 4K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision. It is presented in a 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

There is not much brightness or noticeable color vibrancy added in the transfer from the Dolby Vision grading, which has a MaxLL of 175 nits and MaxFALL of 173 nits, nothing beyond SDR range. The picture quality is still staggeringly gorgeous here, with a beautiful layer of organic grain, exceptional detail and extended nuance and gradations in the gloomy, dark scenes. And regardless of the lackluster use of Dolby Vision, the color and highlights still come across well. There is the scene where an image of the dead girl is shown walking in the rain with a yellowish color over the screen, and it looks very appealing. The primary colors standout like this throughout the presentation, be it reds, blues, yellows, or greens, even as the overall image is somewhat desaturated.

The Audio

Dark Water comes with a Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that is very well mixed, with good atmospheric effects placed through the surround channels. The rainstorm that seems to pervade the film really surrounds you in this mix. There is an extended low end that hits well when there is thunder and other such sound effects.

The Supplements

Arrow gives Dark Water most of the same special features from their previous Blu-ray release, and the usual high quality contents like reversible sleeve and illustrated booklet.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by David Kalat and Michael Gingold

Bonus Features:

  • Hideo Nakata: Ghosts, Rings, and Water (1080p; 00:26:02) – In this interview, shot exclusively for Arrow Video in Tokyo in May 2016, director Hideo Nakata examines his unlikely career as a horror filmmaker with Ringu and Dark Water.
  • Koji Suzuki: Family Terrors (1080p; 00:20:19) — In this interview, shot exclusively for Arrow Video in Tokyo in May 2016m author Koji Suzuki discusses how he became Japan’s pre-eminent horror novelist, and how Dark Water was adapted from one of his short stories.
  • Junichiro Hayashi: Visualizing Horror !9080p; 00:19:15) — In this interview, shot exclusively for Arrow Video in Tokyo in February 2016, director of photography Junichiro Hayashi speaks about his frequent collaborations with director Hideo Nakata.
  • Making-of Featurette (1080p; 00:15:51) – This archive featurette takes a look behind the scenes of the making of Dark Water in 2002.
  • Hitomi Kuroki Interview (1080p; 00:08:00) – In this archive featurette, actress Hitomi Kuroki discusses her experiences in making Dark Water.
  • Asamai Mizukawa Interview (1080p; 00:04:39) — In this archive featurette, actress Asami Mizukawa speaks about her role as the teenaged Ikuko in Dark Water.
  • Shikao Suga Interview (1080p; 00:02:55) — In this archive featurette, composer and musician Shikao Suga talks about the ending theme song he contributed to Dark Water.
  • Trailer (4K; 00:01:15)
  • Teaser (1080p; 00:00:37)
  • TV Spots (1080p; 00:00:49)

The Final Assessment

Dark Water is an artfully crafted horror film with excellent visual style and superb acting from the lead. Arrow’s 4K release looks gorgeous, taking the film up to a new level. Highly recommended!


Dark Water (Limited Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD March 19, 2024 from Arrow Video

Link: Purchase Dark Water (Limited Edition) 4K Ultra HD on Amazon.com


  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for terror and disturbing situations)
  • Studios & Distributors: Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co. | Nippon Television Network (NTV) | Video Audio Project (VAP) | Nikkatsu | Office Augusta Co. Ltd. | Oz Company | Toho Company | Arrow Video
  • Director: Nakata Hideo
  • Written By: Suzuki Kôji | Ichise Takashige | Nakata Hideo
  • Run Time: 101 Mins.
  • Street Date: 19 March 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
    • MaxLL: 175 nits
    • MaxFALL: 173 nits
    • Max. Luminance: 1000 nits
    • Min. Luminance: 0.0001 nits
  • Primary Audio: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
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A middle-aged woman going through a nasty divorce and custody battle moves into a rundown apartment with her young daughter and begins experiencing water-related oddities linked to a girl who went missing. Dark Water (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)