Some of you were probably wondering what happened to good ol’ Jason D. Well, wonder no more! I’m back. What’s that? You didn’t notice I was gone. And you don’t think I’m good? Well, shit. Either way, it’s been too long but I’m back with another timely review for 1993’s Dark Waters. And by ‘timely’, I mean 25 years after its release. (not to brag, but i just did that math in my head) Honestly, it’s not even timely for me. I watched it weeks ago. Ugh. This intro is off the rails. Let’s just get into it, shall we?
Elizabeth travels to a convent on a remote island (her birthplace) at the behest of her friend. When she arrives, she is told that her friend left suddenly. She sticks around because she’s determined to learn why her father regularly donated money to the tiny nunnery. Now that he is dead, she wants to know if/why should should continue the charity. She is allowed to stay but only under a couple of conditions. 1. She is to relinquish all of her belongings and wear the hooded robe (cossack?) of the nuns-in-training. 2. One of the nuns-in-training, Sarah, will be her guide / shadow during her stay. As the two poke around, they discover very strange things indeed. Things that don’t seem very Catholic. Does Elizabeth’s mysterious past have anything to do with this weird order of nuns and the evil looking tablet (amulet?) they seem bent on hiding from the world? (yeah, duh)
Mariano Baino made a gloriously true throwback to the Italian horror gems of the 70s and 80s. Like the best examples of Bava, Argento, Fulci, et al. (not all of the their films. but some of their films), Baino combines deep, colorful photography with long sequences of dialogue-free plot development that border on the surreal. Elizabeth’s exploration of the island and of the mystery of her own past lead her to head-spinningly strange locals, unlikely hidden tunnels, and (ultimately) a bizarre and bleak finale. If you’re not familiar with the source material, this may sound like harsh criticism. On the contrary – Baina has lovingly crafted a unique story that has enough familiarity to trigger nostalgia in die-hard fans of genre films but just enough homage to stay clear of hack retreading. But what about the casual viewer, you ask? The film has plenty to offer horror fans of all stripes, but it may be too bizarre and bloody for, say, your mom (and by ‘your mom’, i mean ‘my mom’). But honestly, who cares about non-fans? Right?
The Final Cut: Dark Waters‘ surreal color palette, intriguing story, and dream logic should satisfy viewers nostalgic for the finest classic Italian horrors. The original and compelling plot make it enjoyable for every horror fan.