DARK WATER, which opens today, earned a mediocre 48% in a survey of 52 reviews (25 for, 27 against) at Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics carping on the rehashed story and comparing the film unfavorably to the Japanese original.
On the other hand, many reviewers praised the film's atmosphere and its depiction of the mother-daughter relationship. In fact, a fairly clear critical split was observable, with the "cream of the crop" rating (from critics at major media outlets) rating the film far higher: 59%. Presumably, this indicates that they were responding to the film's dramatic elements, while reviewers at outlets that specialize in cult and/or horror films were disappointed withe the movie's scare content.
Colin Covert, in Minneapolis Star Tribune, wrote that the American remake of the Japanese film "is a lesson in how to transform atmospheric J-horror into soggy B filmmaking."
Bob Longino, of Atlanta Journal-Constituion, opined: "Maybe RING is spookier. But WATER's female character is the better woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown."
Variety's Todd McCarthy claimed that the film "is dripping with clammy, claustrophobic atmosphere, but ultimately reveals itself as just another mildewed, child-centric ghost story of little import or resonance."
The L.A. Times' Kevin Crust disagreed, calling DARK WATER a "distressing, subtly suspenseful film full of emotional resonance."