Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dark Waters (1993)

Directed by Mariano Baino
Run Time: 94 minutes

The word that's used a lot describe this movie is Lovecraftian and it does check just about every box on themes found in the works of H.P. Lovecraft. There's a creepy forgotten island, a cultish group hiding a secret, something evil and menacing just lurking out of sight, and the always necessary book of occult knowledge. However this movie has more in common with Argento's Suspiria and Inferno and Fulci's The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery than any of Lovecraft's works. As the overall feel and look of this film has more in common with a supernatural gaillo with Lovecraft elements than a film about horror and terror beyond human understanding.

The movie opens in the early 1970's with a group of nuns standing on a cliff holding crosses. These are nuns belong to the order of the artist nuns and will be found through out the film holding crosses in scenic locations. The focus of the scene is on a nun who's a fan of upside down crosses and a priest who looks like a low budget young stand in for Harvey Keitel. The nun is given a creepy mcguffin plate (like the one in the image at the top of the page) by a young girl and the priest is reading a book of forbidden lore during a violent rain storm. These actions cause a point of view killer to hunt down the nun and the priest in quite beautiful and grim ways to die. The room where the priest is in becomes flooded due to the violence of the rain storm and dies either from the point of view killer or a floating cross.

The nun, being the smarter of the two character, waits until the rain stops and then becomes point of view killer bait. Hoping that high cliffs may scare off the pov killer, the nun holds the evil mcguffin disk and shows it to the ocean. However the pov killer is a quick climber and shoves the nun off the cliff to her death.

Jump twenty years later and we are introduced to Elizabeth. A young woman who grew up on this strange island but after her mother's death left with her father to live in London. Upon her father's death she discovered that her father had been making payments to the order of the artist nuns. So Elizabeth decides to kill two cliches with one action by ignoring her father dying wish and visit the island where she was born. This sends her on the path to pull apart the mystery of the nuns and the terrible secret they hide.

On one hand this is a beautiful and dark film to watch. From the first to last frame this movie is full of memorable moving imagery. Along the lines of Salvator Rosa's Witches that are alive. Then there is the other side of this movie which is made of bullet riddled scraps of paper that masquerades as the plot. Mariano Baino clearly was inspired by Lovecraft and Argento but the narrative is all over the place. The nuns are a menacing force through out the film but it is never clear why. The point of view killer has nothing to do with the plot and just seems to be there to kill people at random. Which leads to the most unforgivable part of this movie, Lovecraft threats are at their best when they are not seen. I can't go into detail without spoiling it but this movie would have been better if the nameless evil was seen less.

That being said it is a solid rental movie and enjoyable dark gothic visual ride with a few bumps here and there.

MVT: The location and (I assume) the residents in the area were the movie was shot. It went a long way to selling feel and atmosphere.

Make or Break: The scene with Elizabeth in her bright red raincoat climbing up a rain swept stairs towards the monastery went a long way to selling me on this movie.

Score: 5.8 out of 10

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