Barely exciting and incoherent movie with few highlights and unspectacular ending, swimming in the wake of US-remakes of successful japanese horor movies but nevertheless drowning in its own dark water.
Even Jennifer Connelly and the charming young actress donīt manage to deliver the goods.
Thanks to effective marketing "Dark Water" was released in two different versions after its theatrical run in American cinemas; the usual theatrical version (Fullscreen-DVD) and an unrated version. More mysterious than the movie itself are the rumours about said versions.
On the internet one can find numerous reviews in which the writers can only consternately remark that they just canīt recognize any difference between the two versions. Some reviewers even claimed that the two versions were identical, and others again that the unrated version only included more swear words.
Furthermore it didnīt take long to notice that the unrated version was even specified with a shorter running-time than the theatrial version. Of course this does not have to mean much because the specifications on the back cover of DVDs arenīt necessarily always accurate.
The answer to the problem
An comparison between the two versions quickly brings us the answer: indeed the unrated version does only contain very sparsely new material. One new scene, which was not included in the theatrical version but was partly contained in the trailer, got inserted. This had nothing to do with censorship. In return two cuts of storyline were made, resulting in the omission of an entire scene.
By adding a new scene but in fact cutting altogether more, the unrated version is indeed shorter than the theatrical version. These are all the changes made, and espescially there arenīt any caused by censoreship whatsoever. Likewise the unrated version does not include any additional obscene expressions or swear words; this was accurately checked.
Although the unrated versions of many PG-13-rated movies usually donīt show much hot new material, at least there is a casual swear word or a plunging neckline to be found which may have been missing in the theatrical version because of censoreship.
However, the unrated version of "Dark Water" doesnīt offer any of this. That may be alright, if at least the remaining scenes could be regarded as an improvement, but this, too, is not the case.
Far from it: from the perspective of content the additional scene doesnīt improve the movie in any way. In fact, itīs just a shock effect stretched too far, and it even is not really worth mentioning because itīs outdated since Stephen Kingīs "The Shining".
The elimination of the scenes, removed in return from the unrated version, hurts: first, the dream-reality-scene is one of the few exciting highlights of the movie, and second because the removal of this scenes makes the unrated version more incomprehensible.
In the end, "Dark Water" beats the record of Chucky's Baby, and due to the fact that it is the all-time low of all reviewed Rated/Unrated-comparisons here at movie-censorship, it receives our medal for being the biggest fraud.
The comparison is between the theatrical version (PG-13) of the US-Fullscreen-DVD from Touchstone with the US-Unrated-DVD, also from Touchstone.
After the exhausted Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) lies down, a longer dream sequence, which was shown partly in the trailer, starts in the unrated version. At first the dream sequence consists of keepsakes and pictures, which hang in apartement 10F. Afterwards her daughter Ceci stands on her bed and extends her arms eerily, while water runs down the walls. Suddenly Dahlia is in the same room, while dark water starts to stream out of the walls. Desperately, Dahlia screams.
At this point in the theatrical version there are some shots of the district at night (4,63 sec.). Subsequently a completely alternative
scene follows (see the next but one cut).
44,87 sec. (in the theatrical version)
Time-Index Unrated (US-DVD): 1:00:38
On the other hand there is in the unrated version a big cut after the additional dream sequence. This cut completely removes the considerably longer dream-/reality-scene of the theatrical version, which consists of three parts. In that scene Connelly dreams that her daughter returns from a visit with her father. But in fact it is the ghost of the deceased girl she takes for her daughter. The girl just wants to have a mother and puts herself in the role of her daughter.
The scenes in detail:
In the evening Connelly sits in the first floor, waiting for her daughter to return from a visit with her father. When the car arrives, she gets up to greet her daughter. The daughter (in reality the ghost) gets out of the car and runs exhilarated to her mother and jumps onto her arm. The ghostly laugh of a child can be heard in the background.
Connelly sits with her daughter in the kitchen and serves her spaghetti. The daughter (ghost) tells her that it is her favorite dish. The mother happily gets up and walks to the sink. At this point a spookily music appears and the daughter is shown as she says "I love you, mom.".
Afterwards the daughter takes a bath while her mother gets ready for bed in front of a mirror. They talk about the fatherīs residence. The mother asks if she likes it there. The daughter answers that she doesnīt like it there. Connelly replies that she just hasnīt got accustomed to the place but the daughter answers that she doesnīt want to get accustomed to the place. The eery atmosphere of the scene increases more and more; the daughter is unrecognizable behind the foggy screen of the bathtub. She touches the screen and starts to sing.
Connelly gets attentive when she hears the lyrics and asks her to stop singing. Then she gets her out of the tub and dries her.
At night Connelly lies alone in her bed when suddenly the daughter (ghost) stands in front of her bed, telling her that she is afraid. Further on she asks if she is allowed to sleep with her in the bed. Connelly agrees. The girl lies behind her and eerily whispers in her ear "I love you, mom.".
Totally: 85,03 sec. (in the unrated version)
Time-Index Unrated (US-DVD): 1:01:16
Shortly after the big cut another important part of the plot was removed from the unrated version. In her apartement Connelly receives a phone call from her daughter. Excitedly she wants to know where she was the last day and explains that she tried to call her twice. The mother doesnīt really understands what the daughter is talking about. But the daughter is already at the next subject and tells her that her father is taking her home and that her mother is to pick her up.
Comment: crucial scene in which Connelly realizes that she slept for more than 24 hours. The scene is also directly connected to the scene before, which is missing in the unrated version: she could only sleep that long because she was under the spell of the dream, caused by the girl. Shortly following that, the long sleep is mentioned on the phone conversation in the unrated version (as in the theatrical version, too), but the background is missing completely.
27,1 sec (in the unrated version)