Water Water Everywhere And Don't You Dare Drink A Drop

Unfortunately most people are aware of Koji Suzuki only through film representations of his work. Who can forget how The Ring whetted North America's appetite for horror film imports?

Others may remember the 2005 film Dark Water starring Jennifer Connelly. This film, though only modestly successful, really made an impact upon me. It's set on Roosevelt Island that sits in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. A single mother moves there with her daughter. The dilapidated old building suffers from water leakage problems which lead to horrors far greater, precipitating a downward spiral in the mother's mental health, already dangerously set on edge.

Dark Water happens to be adapted from the first short story in Suzuki's short story collection also titled Dark Water. The connecting theme is water, in all its mysterious, anxiety-inducing, shape-shifting forms. In Adrift, a fishing trawler happens upon an abandoned yacht and decides to tow it. A crew member decides to spend a night aboard in which the question - why did the family so suddenly abandon the vessel? - comes into terrifying focus.

In Forest Under the Sea, a young family man and cave explorer is trapped in an underground cavern and faces the agonizing choice of whether to follow the current of a narrow tunnel to possible freedom (or immediate suffocation) or face slow but certain death.

I really enjoyed Dark Water when the stories primarily used the anxieties that water can provoke to unearth the anxieties we face in every day life. At best, Suzuki brilliantly uses the unsettling effect of a substance with so many manifestations, a substance with the enduring power to shape, to leak through slowly or burst forward and destroy that in its path. Similarly, his characters must face, either in agonizing succession or very suddenly, their own demons.

At worst, water is just a character in a bizarre, cooked up plot line such as in Watercolours where a theatre troupe performs a play in an old disco while a stagehand battles a severe flood upstairs.

Overall, this is horror at its most literary and well-crafted. Despite its shortcomings, Suzuki has eerie insight into the darkness that pervades our very ordinary lives.

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