Dark Waters

07/01/2019 06:23

Film: Dark Waters

Year: 1993

Director: Mariano Baino

Writer: Mariano Baino and Andy Bark

Starring: Louise Salter, Venera Simmons and Mariya Kapnist

 

Review:

This was another film I had never heard of and was on the list I needed to watch for a series of shows for a podcast looking for the best film of the 1990’s. I did briefly read the premise of the film and I was quite intrigued with what I read. The synopsis is a girl travels to an island, after the death of her father, to find out why he was funding a monastery located there.

We are in a convent where a priest (Valeriy Kopaev) is reading from a book. In it we see a disc with a monster’s face on it. There is a little girl (Tanya Dobrovolskaya) that has the disc from the book. It is actually a large amulet. She gives it to a nun. There is then a moment where a door is hit by water and it knocks it down. We then see a woman with the amulet, but someone pushes her off of a cliff. This causes it shatter. The pieces are then put in different boxes and hidden in the catacombs under the monastery.

It then shifts 20 years into the future. Elizabeth is on a bus. There are some odd people on it and she reads a letter from her friend Theresa (Anna Rose Phipps). She is in the same convent from the beginning of the film and that is where Elizabeth is headed. During this bus ride she sees hooded figures with burning crosses walking in a procession.

There’s a that storm that night and Theresa notices a crack in her wall. Behind it is a pathway into the catacombs. She goes down it and finds one of the pieces of an amulet. She is then stabbed to death by a nun. We see the piece fall into the water and come to a stop on a crucifix with Jesus. We also see someone painting the scene on a wall as well.

This storm is pretty brutal and Elizabeth has trouble getting a boat to the island where the monastery is located. She does get a guy to take her there. Upon arriving she meets Mother Superior (Mariya Kapnist). She is taken to her room and informed that she can explore while trying to decide to continue to pay the tribute her father was paying or not. A nun, Sarah (Venera Simmons), will aid her during her investigation.

Elizabeth has nightmares of the catacombs and of what sounds like a monster that is being contained here. The more that she learns about this island and its convent, the more she learns about herself as well as the order that is living here. They’re harboring a dark secret and what she remembers isn’t exactly right. It is much worse when she finally learns of the truth of this island.

Now I have to say, I really enjoyed how atmospheric this film is. When it started off and the location that we were in, I was on board. This monastery looks a lot like a castle keep and I love that as a setting. There is so much history there and the stone of the walls is quite unforgiving. Having a catacomb underneath it is great. There is a combination of natural and manmade tunnels where there are a lot of secrets hidden down there. I think that this really helps develop some of the fear for sure.

Something else that I’m all on board for is the corruption of religion. I love the idea that the nuns are doing most of the killing. At first, you think that they are the villains, but the more you learn about them, the more you learn that they are really trying to protect those around them from something evil. Elizabeth is there to discover what it is and the truth of it is definitely Lovecraftian. I’m definitely down with that.

There is also the idea here of sins of the flesh. There’s a lot of talk of the monster, but what I really like is that you don’t know if there is one or not. This could really just be the corruption of these characters with the deeds they’re committing. To back this theory up, we actually see the nuns hitting themselves with switches much like St. Thomas More would do. The film also has the concept of white eyes due to blindness. There’s a mural that is showcasing this and we see at least 2 characters that are blind. One of which is a painter that is treated as an oracle.

To go along with this, the pacing of film I thought was spot on. We get introduced to the beginning of the story, but there’s enough of a mystery there. I was hooked as we get bits of information that connect everything. I feel that it explained all of the questions that I really had. I could have done without some aspects of the ending, but I wouldn’t necessarily take them out. The only question I still had was where this island is located. I see this film was filmed in Ukraine, but it never official establishes that’s where this is taking place.

The next thing to move to would be the acting of the film, which I thought was solid. Salter I thought was good as the lead. She was believable in trying to piece together everything. I thought she was pretty good looking and I do like the pain that she seems to experience when she finally learns the truth of her past. She is quite torn. Simmons was also sold in her role. I like her as a nun that doesn’t necessarily want to stay, but this is the life she has been living. I did find her quite attractive as well. I thought the rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed, especially Kapnist as Mother Superior and the nuns. They’re pretty violent at times which go against their principals and I’m down with it.

As to the effects of the film, there really isn’t a whole lot, but the effects we do get are done practical. I thought the wounds and the blood looked pretty real. Something that I really liked though was the look of the blind people. They have white eyes which really reminded me of The Beyond. I dug that aspect of the film for sure. There are some monster effects as well, which was fine. I had no issues there.

The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack of the film. It really fits the scenes and I’m not going to lie, it really got my heart rate going. It really built the tension for the film as well. To be honest, this would be a score I would actually listen to while I’m writing as well. This is one of the strongest parts of the film.

Now with that said, this film was something that ticks a lot of my boxes if I’m going to be completely honest. The location of the film, the story and the concepts that are explored are things I’m a big fan of. The corruption of religion and the sins of the flesh are two of these aspects I really like. There is a Lovecraftian element that also works for me. Pacing of the film really helps to build that tension along with the soundtrack of the film. I think that the acting is solid and the effects we do get are done practical and work for me. I would actually recommend this film if these are things you are into as well and would say that overall this is a really good, underrated film.

 

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10