I have a better film on my DVR. But it was late and I didn’t want to watch a two plus hour movie. So, instead I found something on Amazon Prime that was only 89 minutes, after twenty minutes of searching. Smart, aren’t I? Dark Waters sounded like an interesting film-noir. Wrong on both counts.
Merle Oberon is a rather enigmatic leading lady. Quite pretty, somewhat exotic, and a pretty good actress, but her films are mostly forgettable. After Wuthering Heights (1939), none of them have more than a few thousand votes on IMDb. 1939 was a bad year for your best film. Despite playing the delicate flower (why does a rich woman in her 30’s need relatives to stay with?) she was charming and had chemistry with her obligatory romantic partner.
The cast was rounded out by Elisha Cook, Jr. (playing an Elisha Cook, Jr. type) and Thomas Mitchell (speaking of 1939) as Uncle’s business partner. Both great character actors that always seem to find their way into great films. And films like this. I presume Merle was playing a woman much younger than herself making our creepy doctor's behavior seem even worse as he looked every bit of his 40 years plus a few.
Dark Waters (not to be confused with Dark Waters, or Dark Waters, or even Dark Waters) is labeled film-noir but it’s not really. It has some of the elements but in actuality its just a crime drama. I wasn’t expecting a “good” film but I did have higher hopes based on the cast. But it’s the film that lets the cast down. The audio and video quality could have been better but the main flaw is the pacing. Scenes drag as the director beats us over the head with the “good guy is good” message. Certain elements didn’t make sense, like, “what the hell is the plan?” When you spend an hour and a half on a small story the audience should not be left guessing. Also, they treat a lamp briefly going out then back on like a paranormal event. They are in a house, deep, deep in the bayou, during world war 2. Faulty wires anyone? The real mystery is how they have electricity in the first place.
I watched it, liked the performances, and was left disappointed. If they cut ten minutes and wrote a more satisfying ending, you might have something there. As is, AMRU 2.5.
I will not fear long movies, I will not fear long movies, I will not fear long movies ...