If you’re watching a movie and it starts to bring to mind such varied, and fantastic, films as The Innocents, Let The Right One In (which everyone loved except me), The Others, The Orphanage and A Tale Of Two Sisters then that movie had better be good enough to mingle in that company. Fortunately, Elbert van Strien’s film certainly is.
It’s all about little Lisa (Isabelle Stokkel), a young girl who is bored and lonely when her parents move the family unit to a home that has been bequeathed to the mother (Hadewych Minis). Lisa has had an imaginary friend before so her parents aren’t all that surprised, though they are a little concerned, when she seems to create another little girl to keep her company. Things become more alarming when Lisa starts to tell her parents what the little girl has been telling her; a tragedy that may actually have really happened . . . . . . . . . but how can that be if the playmate is imaginary?
Zwart Water is a movie that’s very satisfying to watch, utilising all of the best aspects that can be a part of the horror genre (we get good acting, depth and intelligence here) while also throwing in enough simple jump scares to keep everyone on their toes. In fact, I was almost getting annoyed with the fact that every scare in the first half of the movie was accompanied by a musical sting but then realised what a great creepy vibe every frame had despite being a relatively bright movie.
Like all of the best horror films, this isn’t just about what’s on the surface. We have the loneliness and desperation of a child dragged out of it’s comfort zone, we get the love for parents that is sometimes externalised in malicious acts as a cry for attention, we see the impact that can be made due to guilt and selfishness.
Stokkel is really a very good young actress, Minis is excellent and Barry Atsma (as Paul, the father) plays a very likeable character who we are spurring on to get to the bottom of things before it goes too far. Nobody falters in the cast.
The screenplay (co-written by the director and Paulo van Vliet) is top notch and only suffers from a lack of ambiguity in places although that is compensated for by a final act that you may see coming but that still packs a decent wallop, both emotionally and in the horror stakes, and that allows you to put your own interpretation on events.
I personally don’t see how fans of quality horror can fail to enjoy this movie and those who enjoyed the films mentioned in the first paragraph, especially, may well find themselves with a new favourite.
DIRECTOR: ELBERT VAN STRIEN.
STARS: ISABELLE STOKKEL, HADEWYCH MINIS, BARRY ATSMA.
RUNTIME: 112 MINS APPROX.