I consider myself to be pretty well versed in 90’s horror, however I am always pleasantly surprised to discover obscure gems that slipped past me. Such is the case with DARK WATERS, an Italian horror/Nunsploitation hybrid that bares its fangs in all the right places. A dark and foreboding film, DARK WATERS will keep you captivated throughout its entirety. And while it’s not perfect, it’s still vastly entertaining and well worth the watch.
If you are not familiar with DARK WATERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution:
It has been acclaimed as “visually amazing” (Videoscope), “deeply disturbing” (BBC Radio One), “a must see for serious horror buffs” (Film Review), and compared to the works of Bergman, Bava and Argento. Now experience the modern Nunsploitation masterpiece from co-writer/director Mariano Baino as you’ve never seen or heard it before: When a young Englishwoman attempts to discover her mysterious connection to a remote island convent, she will unlock an unholy communion of torment, blasphemy and graphic demonic depravity. Louise Salter (INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE) stars in this “stunning and horrifying debut” (Digitally Obsessed) filmed on location along the grim Ukraine coast now transferred in HD from the original 35mm negative and featuring over 4 hours of startling Special Features.
The look and feel of this film is truly excellent. Director Mariano Baino does a phenomenal job of projecting Gothic overtones, both obvious and discreet, here. This atmosphere, infused with dark, medieval organ music, creates a haunting and desolate backdrop on which the horror plays out.
DARK WATERS is shot very well and looks amazing onscreen. In addition to the great HD picture, the visuals themselves are truly spectacular. There is an artistry to Baino’s camerawork, and the film flows smoothly as a result. This delicate touch to the cinematography is an interesting contrast to the horrific images it portrays.
The acting is good, with Louise Salter heading up the cast as the main character, Elizabeth. Salter is talented and beautiful, and I’m surprised she has not been in more roles than her IMDB page lists (she only has four credits). The rest of the cast does a fine job as well, however I have to confess I am not familiar with any of them.
The special effects are practical (this film is pre-CG), and they are all great. I’m not going into great detail about them because doing so could potentially spoil certain aspects of the film. But I am impressed with what the effects team accomplishes.
My minor complaints about DARK WATERS involve the plot. Granted, these are small issues, but they do warrant mentioning. My primary gripe is the lack of explanation about certain things. **SPOILER ALERT These things include why Elizabeth’s father was sending money to the convent, and what Elizabeth and her sister were doing on the island as children. Also, several of the character’s accents are so thick it’s hard to understand them; perhaps explanations were given, and I just couldn’t understand them. I don’t know. But I feel like some point-blank, in-your-face elucidations might have been helpful.
I have to say, though, that I really enjoyed this film, and I highly recommend it. It is labeled as part of the Nunsploitation genre, however I’m not sure if that fits; there’s no nudity in DARK WATERS, which is usually a staple of the field. But this is definitely a horror flick and worthy of the tag. Give this one a look for sure. DARK WATERS hits store shelves next week, so make a note.
In addition to the excellent HD picture and sound, the Blu-ray boasts some great features as well, including:
• Audio Commentary With Writer / Director Mariano Baino
• Lovecraft Made Me Do It Featurette
• Let There Be Water Featurette
• Controlling The Uncontrollable Featurette
• Deep Into The Dark Waters Featurette
• Director Intro
• Deleted Scenes
• Silent Blooper Reel With Audio Commentary by Director Mariano Baino
• Short Films Of Mariano Baino: Dream Car, Caruncula, Never Ever After
• Making Of Never Ever After