Well if the title doesn’t say it all…Picking up where Alien vs. Predator left off those pesky aliens cause the Predator ship to crash on Earth setting them free near a Colorado town. A lone Predator (Ian Whyte encoring from AvP) comes to Earth to clean up the mess and what the hell maybe pick up a few human trophies too. Needless to say the town’s human residents are completely unprepared for this sort of inter-galactic free-for-all on their streets. This is after all the sort of town where everybody knows everybody but no one seems to notice when a spaceship crashes in the woods outside of town or when the self-same spaceship blows up the next day. In short you could say that they get what’s coming to them--and they sure do. Pretty dreadful all around. Then again Shane Salerno’s script is pointless to begin with. Steven Pasquale (TV’s Rescue Me) plays the ex-con hero Dallas (a nod to the original Alien). Reiko Aylesworth (TV’s 24) plays a veteran of the Gulf War who returns stateside just in time to engage in another one--a pretty pale homage to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley character. John Ortiz plays the local sheriff one of the dullest (and dumbest) screen lawmen in recent memory. Veteran Robert Joy drops in briefly as a weasely U.S. Army colonel who would just as soon nuke the town as try to save it. Every time this film focuses on the (one-dimensional) human characters it stops cold. Unfortunately this happens a lot. There’s no reason to root for them because you simply don’t care. True to form most of them are sliced diced chopped lasered exploded from within and otherwise treated in a shabby fashion. They are simply fodder. Just for the record this is the sixth Alien film and the fourth Predator film and it holds the dubious distinction of being the worst of any of them. The special effects are just dandy but not much else is. This also marks the inauspicious feature directorial debut of noted visual effects artists Colin and Greg Strause (billed as “The Brothers Strause”). They clearly have an affinity for this sort of thing--and for the Alien and Predator franchises--but are just as clearly content to simply let the special effects run away with the story. The first Alien vs. Predator movie was no great shakes but it was better than it had any right to be. This one is not. Responding to the fans who wanted this film to be R-rated the Brothers Strause have delivered on that--and absolutely nothing more. It’s a pointless exercise.
Based on the novel by Japanese author Koji Suzuki (The Ring) we open on one of the many endless rainy days in the film. The recently separated Dahlia Williams (Jennifer Connelly) who is trying to start a new life for herself and her daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade) is looking for an apartment. Embroiled in an ugly custody battle with her estranged husband (Dougray Scott) Dahlia is sort of forced to move into a dilapidated sprawling housing block on Roosevelt Island. With cracked walls hideous Formica and giant water stains Dahlia and Ceci's new apartment isn't exactly ideal--but the mother and daughter try to make the best of it. Until that is the water leaks begin to take over their lives. Oh no! Not the dreaded WATER LEAKS! Yes it seems something menacing and malevolent lurks in every faucet every washing machine basically every puddle of water in the building playing mind games with the already fragile Dahlia. It's even threatening her little girl's life. Now Dahlia has to figure out the riddle and protect her daughter before it's too late--even as the dark water closes in around them. Um here's a solution: move out.
For the love of God Jennifer lighten up! Connelly is forever playing beautiful but tortured and depressed women in films such as Requiem for a Dream House of Sand and Fog and A Beautiful Mind for which she won her Oscar. And her somber performance in Dark Water is no exception. True she is tailored-made for these kinds of roles with her sad eyes and delicate features. But it would be nice to see if she has any other range just to watch her smiling and laughing once in awhile. As the solemn Ceci Ariel Gade is at least spared the pasty-face sunken-eye look so common in child actors starring in horror dramas these days. And she only draws one creepy picture (she's forced to actually). Of course she does have a malicious imaginary friend who isn't all that imaginary but I guess we can't expect to lose all the ghostly conventions. The rest of the cast fills things out nicely. There's Scott (Mission: Impossible 2) as the spiteful ex-hubby who turns out to be a caring father; John C. Reilly as the superficial and neglectful apartment building manager; Pete Postlethwaite as the somewhat suspicious building super; and Tim Roth as Dahlia's kindly custody attorney. Too bad this pool of talent couldn't make the film any better.
Dark Water is yet another remake of yet another hit Japanese horror flick made by The Ring's Suzuki and director Hideo Nakata. Yet all the elements that made The Ring frightening--single moms with kids in jeopardy water little girls drowning--doesn't translate nearly as well in Dark Water. Sure Brazilian director Walter Salles (Central Station) does his best to show you how dark these waters are going to get. But instead of chilling your spine he just depresses and bores the hell out of you. First of all it is continually raining throughout the whole film which naturally brings things down a notch. Then once we get inside the apartment building the immediate question arises: who in their right mind would want to live in such a place? As if the dismal lobby alone isn't enough we are then subjected to the rickety elevator; the narrow dingy drippy hallways; and the horribly rundown dank water-stained apartment in which Dahlia and Ceci move around slowly and methodically. In the last 10 minutes things do pick up but by then it's too late. I know this is suppose to be a slow-build ghost story but I feel like climbing into my bed drawing the shades and sleeping for the next 12 hours just describing it to you.