Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Dark Waters' (1994)
Nuns are fucking scary...
The opening of this movie sets the bar so low, you don't expect much of this movie. That makes it pleasantly surprising that the rest of the movie is pretty good. Of course, the rest of this movie is still begging to be riffed, but it's still a pretty good movie. The ending is a bit predictable, the practical FX are absolute garbage, and the rubber monster is downright silly, but everything else is okay.
The acting is better than can normally be expected for horror. Yeah, that's not amazing or anything, but it's not bad. The atmosphere is fantastic. They really pulled out all the stops on the set. I don't know where they filmed, but it was pretty cool. It feels like there's miles of underground chambers on the island. I think this was likely filmed on location, and if it wasn't, the effort they put in to erecting the set is mindblowing.
The story was solid. As I said before, it was a bit predictable, but that's not a huge problem. It's angled as a Lovecraftian mystery, so most of it is making subtle discoveries till the end. I guess that means the ending isn't a twist, but they should have made the clues a little more difficult to interpret. I pretty much had the whole movie figured out by the halfway mark. Again, not a total dealbreaker, but a four-year-old could have figured it out.
I really can recommend this. Keep in mind, it's old and a bit silly, but it's not bad and that's enough. I REALLY recommend it for riffers. This shit was riffing gold!
The nun, Sarah, is the female lead's sister. She's working for an ancient demon to trick her sister back to the island, so the two of them can summon the demon. Everything starts when one of Sarah's disciples tries to steal the pieces to an evil tablet and gets murdered by one of the nuns protecting it. So, of course, you think the nuns are this evil cult who worships this weird idol and practices unholy pagan rituals, but as it turns out, they're actually zealot defenders, trying to prevent this ancient horror from getting loose.
Of course, that's not the way their initially presented in the movie. They brutally murder Sarah's friend, they try again and again to kill the female lead, they do all these weird creepy things, and then they burn down the village near their monastery and kill all the villagers. The movie does a pretty solid job of making them seem like the antagonists, but they're actually the good guys—sorta.
I feel like this all could have been prevented if they just told the female lead to get lost. It's their fucking island, they could just tell her to take the proverbial piss.
I also don't understand why the nuns let the villagers live. The villagers are a part of this cult to summon the ancient horror, so why didn't the nuns just murder all of them decades ago.
But yeah, Sarah is trying to use her sister to summon this demon. None of it is hard to figure out. You find out the lead's mother never died, there's all these missing memories from her childhood, she finds a photo of her and her sister when they were children, and she has a ton of flashbacks implicating her in the cult in some way. It's kinda obvious.
It is fun and riffable though, so give it a shot.