Friday, April 28, 2017

Dark Waters (Severin)

By Mrparka
                Severin Films restores “Dark Waters”, the under-appreciated film by Mariano Baino.  “Dark Waters” opens with a church being decimated by a tidal wave.  The wave’s catalyst is a strange amulet that is shattered shortly after. Twenty years later, a woman from London is drawn to the convent to dwell into her mysterious past and meet with a friend.  During her journey she meets a myriad of strange individuals that play as herrings. When she finally arrives her friend appears to be missing.   Now stranded, with little hope at making it back to the mainland, she is forced to live with the secretive nuns who reside at the convent.  Quickly she begins to dig into her past which leads her to the mysterious amulet and soon reveals some troubling information about her family, the nuns, and the entire island.
                “Dark Waters” was released in 1993. It came late in the Italian film world but shares the high concept and imagination of some of the last gems from that era, such as the body of work from Italian director, Michele Sovia, and the film oddity “Spider’s Labyrinth” made in 1988. “Dark Waters” has shared similarities to these previously mentioned films, but also is its own beast. The film's tense dread sets it apart from a lot of its peers; everything seems to be crumbling in on our lead, including the church itself. This impending doom eventually comes to a screeching halt in the way of an insane reveal.  Nearly every scene in “Dark Waters” looks like a painting of beauty and misery, creating a vastly demented world; a world where the blind are the only ones who can truly see. These blind souls express these visions of hell through art, depicting a terrifying future with brush strokes on cave walls or through crochet. The constant dripping and dampness of the film makes the water feel like a character presence. Being set on an island, there is no escape from it; indeed, the most memorable death in the film involves water. A victim is stabbed violently over running water, the blood then mixes in and trails down the catacomb like walls.  Filmed in Ukraine on some wonderfully designed sets, the bleak location bleeds into the film with the crew’s experiences and hardships on set translating into it.  Our character is longing to escape such a dreaded place; it’s possible it mimics her desire to flee the actual location. The crew's mixture of Italian, Russian, and British creates a strange and not often seen dynamic, presenting a new flavor of film making, not quite like the other Euro co-productions we have seen in the past.  The film's score is creepy and fits right into the film’s paranoid nature, no one can be trusted and not everything is as it seems.  “Dark Waters” is a visual film and shows more than it tells, providing foreshadow throughout the entirety of the film. “Dark Waters” also manages to make the visual moments into memorable scenes; one that stands out in particular is where our lead munches on a dead fish uncontrollably surrounded by a shore of dead aquatic life.  From beginning to end “Dark Waters” deliverers on everything it should; a great location, an atmospheric score, cool special effects, a smart script, and a feeling of dread. It does all this while being mesmerizing to the eyes and leaving a lasting impression. This lasting impression is most powerful in its final frames as the bodies of nuns lay sprawled out on the rocky shore, mimicking the fish earlier.
                “Dark Waters” from Severin Films has been remastered and it looks and sounds great. The special features on the release are abundant.  Many of the features are ported over from the old 2 Disc NoShame release; the director’s shorts (all of which are worth watching, especially “Caruncula”), deleted scenes, a making of, and a commentary.  The old features give a look into what it was like filming in the Ukraine and having such a stressful time. The new features include Let There Be Water Featurette, Controlling the Uncontrollable Featurette, and Deep into the Dark Waters Featurette. These features give a nice look into some of the inspiration from the director. The entire disc is a treasure from film to making of. Thanks to Severin we have this atmospheric dread filled gem in HD.

Dark Waters
Label: Severin Films
Color 89 minutes In English Closed Captioned
All Regions Widescreen 1.85:1 Dolby Digital Mono
Production year: 1994 Horror Not Rated
Director: Mariano Baino
Cast: Louise Salter, Venera Simmons, Mariya Kapnist

It has been acclaimed as visually amazing (Videoscope), deeply disturbing (BBC Radio One), a must see for serious horror buffs (Film Review), and compared to the works of Bergman, Bava and Argento. Now experience the modern Nunsploitation masterpiece from co-writer/director Mariano Baino as you've never seen or heard it before: When a young Englishwoman attempts to discover her mysterious connection to a remote island convent, she will unlock an unholy communion of torment, blasphemy and graphic demonic depravity. Louise Salter (INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE) stars in this stunning and horrifying debut (Digitally Obsessed) - filmed on location along the grim Ukraine coast - now transferred in HD from the original 35mm negative and featuring over 4 hours of startling Special Features.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary With Writer / Director Mariano Baino
Lovecraft Made Me Do It Featurette
Let There Be Water Featurette
Controlling the Uncontrollable Featurette
Deep Into the Dark Waters Featurette
Director Intro
Deleted Scenes
Silent Blooper reel With Audio Commentary by Director Mariano Baino
Short Films Of Mariano Baino: Dream Car, Caruncula, Never Ever After
Making of Never Ever After
Review Quotes:


-Filmmaker Magazine

A SINGULAR EXPERIENCE... Baino is a master of light and shadow.

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