I kept putting off watching this Hollywood remake of Nakata's 2002 ghost story, assuming that - as with The Ring, The Grudge and The Eye - it would be a flat let down. Well, it's not bad at all. In fact it's the best 'Westernisation' of an Asian horror movie. Or, more correctly, ghost story, as Dark Water isn't really horrific so much as bleak and relentless.
The reworked story is set in New York, but most of the action takes place on Roosevelt Island - an unfamiliar location to me, at least. As in the original, it rains a lot. As in the original, there's a rather grim apartment block, this one described by the letting agent as Brutalist.
Jennifer Connelly plays the mother who, following the breakdown of her marriage, has to move into a far-from-perfect flat with her small daughter. Her performance is rather good, and the overall look and feel of the film is classy. What really makes it work for me, though, are two British actors playing non-Brit characters. Tim Roth is so good as the Lincoln lawyer that I didn't recognise him. Pete Postlethwaite is suitably grumpy and enigmatic as the building's East European janitor, who neglects his mopping duties.
The main change to the plot is the conclusion. While the basic story remains the same, a bit of sentiment is allowed to creep in. The message, though, remains uncompromising - life is often cruel, and sometimes sacrifices must be made. As a celluloid ghost story, this is one of the good ones. Just don't watch it if you're feeling depressed.