Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dark Waters (1993)

Dark Waters is a film that I've heard mentioned often, but without a lot of detail other than "it's good".  It was released in the early nineties, when both occult horror and the florid Italian style had pretty much yielded the scene to debacles like Leprechaun.  So it's not surprising that this film stood out, but let's just see if it holds up.

"I look like Dario Argento when he was good!" say the early scenes.  A heroine who wears red raincoats in blue rainstorms travels to an island convent to hang out with her sister.  Dark Waters doesn't really shy away from letting you know that the convent is full of Satanic nuns.  But, as we'll see, story is a lesser consideration.  The more prominent strengths of this film are technical.  It's shot and edited incredibly well and really does have the art-palette visuals of golden-age Italian horror.

If you really like pretty horror, like Suspiria-era Argento, then you should definitely see this.  Some might not be satisfied by images alone, though, and that's where the movie stumbles a bit.  I don't know a concise way to explain this, but it often feels like the story is at the service of the visuals and not the other way around.  The plot feels really loose and scatterbrained.  I know you could say the same thing about a lot of Italian horror, but it is extra noticeable here.

Plus the early stages have some iffy acting.  Thankfully, the movie gets better as we pass the introductory stuff and shift into horror.   

The latter half of Dark Waters includes some legitimately creepy scares as well as the visual excellence we've already come to expect.  It still has gaping plot holes (seriously, who doesn't have any memories of life before they were seven years old?).  And you can probably predict where the story's going based only the brief plot reveals I've given you.  But it's worth a spin if this style of horror fits your taste.  I would recommend moderating your expectations if you've heard lots of hype, though.  This isn't really great, but it could justly be called good.


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