Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Detroit Free Press:
In a time when American acting icons like Robert De Niro and Jane Fonda take roles in junk and call it good fun, Connelly shows us how an actor can respect commercial moviemaking and her craft.
What keeps the film alive and more than a little nerve-wracking are a terrific cast and director Walter Salles, who creates a powerfully oppressive mood that meshes seamlessly with the inner turmoil of troubled mom Dahlia.
A mostly faithful adaptation of a scary little story: A mother and her young daughter, needing to save money as the mother negotiates an unhappy divorce, move into a depressing, dark apartment.
Director Walter Salles give this shocker an added psychological/ dramatic level that heightens the shivers.
San Francisco Chronicle:
It's not bad, horrible or embarrassing; it just doesn't completely add up or send people out feeling like they've seen something special.
This is an eerie, relentlessly grim, invasive little movie -- a tone poem of despair that seeps into you like the damp.
Some may consider Dark Water too leisurely paced, but it's refreshing to see a film that doesn't shoo the ghost from a closet in the first half hour.
Until it sputters to a nonsensical close, the film is a spooky entertainment.
Salles seems too uncomfortable with the fantastic to get full value from the creeps and jumps his camerawork delivers.
The film's greatest mystery turns out to be: Why, with so much talent, does Dark Water never cross the tipping point?
Salles realizes the rotten dank desperation of her life so vividly that he has made, in effect, the first collapse-of-the- middle-class horror movie.
Dallas Morning News:
Dark Water will leave some viewers scratching their heads, while others will be wide-eyed with appreciation. This viewer, at least, is reasonably wide-eyed.
No amount of tastefully desaturated color or imaginary friends going whoo-whoo in the deserted apartment upstairs can save this lumbering echt-thriller from fatal tedium.
If there's such a thing as a film being too suggestive for too little, Dark Water may be its prototype.
It's good to see [Salles] getting a chance to direct in Hollywood, and pleasant to have a scary movie that features adults and a fine, vulnerable actress.
New York Times:
A dull and occasionally risible remake of an even duller, more risible Japanese horror flick ...
It's so lacking in heartfelt frights or cheap scares that the few real hair-raising moments, in the finale, don't pay off.
Dark Water has plenty of creepy moments, but few scares, and it becomes bogged down in setup.
Like so many recent thrillers of this ilk, many of them in some way exploiting the 'innocence' of childhood -- the dumb and unpleasant Hide and Seek springs to mind -- Dark Water falls apart in the wind-down.
Globe and Mail:
[Salles] has managed to create a movie that's pretty bleak for a Hollywood -- especially Disney -- thriller.
Working from a premise that's not only thin but transparent, Salles struggles mightily to generate tension in any other way possible.
Dark Water has more substance and a more interesting look than many horror films, but the familiar elements of the story disappoint.
[Dark Water] is dripping with clammy, claustrophobic atmosphere, but ultimately reveals itself as just another mildewed, child-centric ghost story of little import or resonance.
It fails to deliver the narrative thrill twists its origins would promise.
There's something that never quite works about the film, which can't seem to decide if it's all in Dahlia's head, all in the spirit world or all in her pipes.
A tasteful but unremitting bummer and yet one more case of an Oscar-winning actress proving that she can still do the kinds of disposable movies big awards are supposedly meant to banish from your resume forever.