5/5 stars (for the BACKSTORY)
3/5 stars (if watched at face value)
Dark Water is a 2005 American horror film directed by Walter Salles, starring Jennifer
Connelly and Tim Roth. The film is a remake of the 2002 Japanese film of the same name which is in turn based on the short story “Floating Water” by Koji Suzuki, who also wrote the Ring Trilogy. The film also stars John C. Reilly.
The film was released on July 8, 2005, to mixed reviews and grossed almost $50 million worldwide.
My 20-year old daughter and I started watching this random movie on Cinemax the other night. We neither one had even heard of it before, but I’ve since discovered this movie is anything but random or unheard of. More on that in a bit.
The movie is set on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan and all of the action takes place in a dilapidated apartment building. This is the story of a newly divorced woman (Dahlia) and her kindergarten-aged daughter (Cecilia) moving out on their own, away from the cheating ex-husband. The neighborhood is rundown, the apartment buildings are stacked on top of each other and everything is gray and depressing. Very post-apocalyptic. This is what $900/month could get you in 2005 NYC.
Dahlia keeps having a problem with water leaking from an above empty apartment into hers and she has all kinds of issues getting it repaired. The super is a strange angry man and there are loud noises coming from the supposedly vacant apartment. All manner of weirdness ensues. Meanwhile, Cecilia suddenly has a new imaginary friend that keeps getting her into trouble at school. The plot is very much centered on this dark icky water that is spilling through their ceiling.
This isn’t a horror film, it is more of a family drama with a supernatural element thrown in. There is a surprise ending (plot twist!) and it’s a decent little movie. It’s no Sixth Sense, but it’s certainly not bad either.
We immediately noticed something strange about this story and setting. Here’s the thing, this movie is infamous for another reason. The setting includes an old looking water tower on the roof of the apartment building. My daughter and I looked at each other and said immediately “THIS LOOKS LIKE THE CECIL HOTEL!” That’s the only building we’ve ever seen with a water tower on top of it. If you’re into unsolved mysteries, you probably have seen the strange footage of the young Canadian woman, Elisa Lam. The footage shows her acting really bizarre in the hotel elevator at 2 AM before she disappeared. Her body was later found in that water tower on top of the Los Angeles Cecil Hotel. A quick search of YouTube will give you hundreds of theories and conspiracies about the events that led to her death.
There are few logical explanations of why she died, but her weird behavior, the haunted history of the Cecil Hotel, and the fact that police were not forthcoming with what they found all combined to make a perfect storm of controversy in this young woman’s death.
I know I’m rambling, I get overly invested in unsolved true crime cases. Is this a crime or a suicide? We still don’t know for sure, the coroner did rule that she died of drowning, but no word on why or how. My daughter and I even visited the L.A. hotel last summer in hopes of….I don’t know. Getting a feeling? However, I had never heard of this movie and all the similarities to the case.
Back to the movie, Dark Water. We immediately started googling about it as the closing credits began, since we couldn’t figure out why this story was familiar. I suggest you give yourself about 3 hours if you start digging too, it is one deep rabbit hole. If you are just now looking into this story, you would assume that the movie was loosely based on the Elisa Lam case. Here’s the thing: Dark Water was filmed years BEFORE the actual incident at the Cecil Hotel. WHAT??? Some similarities that we noticed:
- of course the name, Cecil, with the movie character, Cecilia
- The Black Dahlia was known to frequent the Cecil hotel and is also the name of the mother in the movie
- Cecilia’s red jacket looks like Elisa Lam’s red hoodie in the elevator footage
- In both the film and the Elisa Lam case, guests complained of foul tasting, dark water coming from their taps. Disgustingly, this was due to the decomposing body in the water tank.
There are countless other creepy connections, but these are the the highlights that we picked up on with no idea that Dark Water had already been matched up by thousands of other interested people. Amazon has a great deal on the DVD! click here > Dark Water