This is a remake from a Japanese film from the director of, but the pure horror angle was toned down and turned into a psychological thriller. I bet the Japanese version kept the horror element to the max.
The situations the main characters are in doesn’t need spooky ghosts or gore to get any worse. After a divorce, mother and daughter move to a new house in the run down part of town, with a creepy but helpful superintendent and a sleazy landlord. The house has many problems and the mother lacks support from any friends. As if that wasn’t enough, she takes a lousy job to have more time for her kid, and money is tight.
After the husband threatens to fight for the custody, lawyers get involved, and that is when the building reveals itself filled with secrets involving dirty water.
At least the ending was not cheapened. I think something got cut, because the superintendent is taken away as a terrible monster which everyone looks at with disgust but he is as selfless as it gets, his major flaw is looking like an unkempt Pete Postlethwaite.
The cast is great, even though all secondary characters are sleazy or pathetic middle-aged men.
The landlord talks like a used car salesmen, gets lost in its own lies, and every time his tenants call him to complain about something, he is either at the horse races or playing in the lottery. His spiel is always the same, “consider it solved, I will arrange for it, don’t worry” while doing nothing. Bringing in the lawyers is the only way for him to get off his ass.
The lawyer lives in his car and pretends his office is being renovated. He is helpful and takes calls at any time, even when he goes to the cinema alone but keeps mentioning about his wife and kids waiting for him. He feels like a Japanese stereotype that you could do an entire film about.
Finally, I have to give props to Jennifer Connelly, she makes a crack pairing with the little girl.