Dark Water appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A drab transfer, the presentation occasionally excelled, but it usually looked too dull.
Sharpness varied a bit. Most of the movie came across as reasonably defined and concise. However, exceptions occurred, as the film occasionally looked somewhat soft and tentative. No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed moderate edge enhancement at times. As for source defects, a few examples of specks popped up during the film.
As with most modern horror films, not many colors cropped up in Water. Some shots presented relatively natural tones, but much of the movie used a green tint. This affected most of the hues, and they looked a little heavy. I think this mainly reflected the production design, though. Blacks tended to be slightly inky, but remained acceptably dense for the most part. Shadows also were mildly heavy and not quite as cleanly delineated as I’d like. No serious problems marred the image, but it showed enough small concerns to get a “B-“.
I felt the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Dark Water was more positive. The soundfield took full use of the many eerie scenes. The constant presence of water made for an engulfing experience, as those elements meshed together well. Other elements popped up from the speakers along the way, and the whole package gave us a strong sense of setting that accentuated the creepiness.
Audio quality fared well. Speech was always natural and crisp, with no edginess or issues connected to intelligibility. Music appeared dynamic and full, while effects presented the greatest impact. The scenes that jolted us offered deep, dynamic elements that punched us at the appropriate times. This ended up as a solid mix.
Heading to the DVD’s extras, we start with Beneath the Surface: The Making of Dark Water. This 15-minute and 48-second featurette mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and comments from director Walter Salles, screenwriter Rafael Yglesias, executive producer Ashley Kramer, producer Bill Mechanic, production designer Therese DePrez, and actors Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Dougray Scott, Tim Roth, Ariel Glade, and Pete Postlethwaite. The program covers the movie’s themes/story and its attempts to work within the horror genre, the Roosevelt Island setting, Salles’ influence on the production, set design and attempts at realism, and dealing with the omnipresent water.
DePrez’s discussion of production design offers easily the best part of the program. She gives us many nice insights into her work. Unfortunately, the rest of the show is less valuable. The clips rush through the subjects and don’t dig into them well. There’s enough here to be acceptably worthwhile, but don’t expect a great feature.
We examine audio with the seven-minute and 19-second The Sound of Terror. It presents notes from Salles, re-recording mixer Scott Millan, sound supervisor/sound designer Frank Gaeta, associate editor Maria Montoreano, and editor Daniel Rezende. They tell us a lot about the specifics of the sound design as well as general choices in regard to tone. This turns into a tight and informative little piece.
Two Deleted Scenes fill a total of one minute, 50 seconds. These include “Dahlia at the Laundromat” and “Ceci and Kyle in the Car”. “Laundromat” shows Dahlia as she relates her suspicions about what happened to the residents of 10-F, while “Ceci” just shows her and her dad as they get some things from the apartment. The latter isn’t very interesting, but “Laundromat” is mildly intriguing.
For a look at the filmmakers, we head to Extraordinary Ensemble. The 25-minute and 55-second program features remarks from Connelly, Mechanic, Salles, Yglesias, Reilly, Mechanic, Roth, Postlethwaite, Scott, Glade, Rezende, Gaeta, Millan, Montoreano and DePrez. “Ensemble” consists of brief clips focused on various participants. We go through notes about Yglesias, Salles, Connelly, Kramer, Glade, Reilly, Roth, Postlethwaite, Scott, DePrez, Rezende, Rezende, Gaeta, Millan, actor Camryn Manheim, composer Angelo Badalamenti, and director of photography Affonso Beato.
These cover basic notes about the filmmakers and some specifics about their work on the flick. They don’t follow a concise line, but they flesh out the movie reasonably well. We get some fun insights and trivia bits through these clips. The best parts show Glade’s audition tapes, and I also like info about Reilly’s inspirations. Some of them offer little more than inane happy talk, but there’re some nice pieces on display.
For the final featurette, we get Analyzing Dark Water Scenes. This splits into three sequences. “Blue Robe” (two minutes, 49 seconds) and “Wall of Water” (2:46) work similarly. They present remarks from Rezende, Montoreano, Mechanic, Salles and DePrez. “Robe” looks at that scene’s editing, while “Water” examines production design, effects and cutting for its sequence. Both provide some solid insights and give us good specifics about the issues.
“Interactive Bathroom Sequence” gets more ambitious. It lets us watch the scene with any of six different soundtracks: “Raw Production Sound”, “Ambient Sound Effects”, “ADR”, “Foley Sound Effects”, “Music” and “Final Mix”. We can also check it out with an audio commentary from Scott Millan. Individually, the clip runs 98 seconds, but multiply that times seven if you choose to examine all the options in full and it’ll take significantly longer to get through it.
Millan gives us some notes about the various elements used for the mix and why these were chosen. I like this presentation and think it’s a cool way to break down the sequence. It certainly digs into the elements in a myriad of ways.
The DVD opens with some ads. We get trailers for Annapolis, Flightplan, and Shopgirl. These also appear in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks area along with previews for Sin City, Everything You Want, Shadows in the Sun, and Season Two of Lost.
I’ve not gotten much out of other horror flicks adapted from Japanese films, but Dark Water turns out to be the exception to that rule. Subtle, creepy and involving, it provides a surprisingly successful effort. The DVD offers fairly mediocre audio along with pretty solid audio. It lacks much in the way of extras, though. This isn’t a great DVD, but the movie is good enough to merit at least a rental.