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Open Water

A movie directed by Chris Kentis

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Realistically scary... not Hollywood scary

  • Jan 25, 2005
  • by
Rating:
+3
The only thing that might make this compact little movie more terrifying would be a musical score from John Williams. Minus the signature "buh rump... buh rump" from the Jaws theme, this film is scary enough as it is. Working with factual events as the basis for their story, filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau have put together a gripping scenario of a couple abandoned far out to sea by their scuba excursion.

Stressed with careers and a relationship that's clearly moved past the honeymoon phase, Susan and Daniel are seriously in need of a vacation. That's underscored by phone calls on the way to the airport, time spent with the laptop in the hotel room, and mild bickering sufficient enough to cast an occasional cloud over potentially romantic moments. Their escape takes them to a small Caribbean island where they begin to decompress with the standard sun, sand and libation. But that relaxation reverses when they surface from a scuba diving excursion to discover that their boat is nowhere to be seen. The drama from that point forward is as real as it gets, even down to the panic-fed arguments; one of which ends with the line "I wanted to skiing...!"

Forget mechanical sharks and CGI animated sea creatures, Open Water was filmed at sea with real threats - courtesy of a "shark wrangler." Only 79 minutes in length, the film steadily builds the tension to the very end. Blanchard Ryan (Susan) and Daniel Travis (Daniel) deserve praise for even agreeing to act under the circumstances in which they were placed, and they deliver solid, believable performances.

Open Water won't appeal to everyone. It was filmed on a shoestring budget, on digital video, with unknown actors; there is a scene with nudity that might offend some, and opinions regarding the ending seem to be split 50/50 between "great" and "terrible". If any of that bothers you, then consider something else for your viewing enjoyment.

I'm not normally a "DVD extras" kind of guy, but the interviews with Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, along with the commentary of the actors provide ample reason to choose this format over VHS. Are you at all curious about how you protect a cameraman surrounded by a school of sharks? And how do you get sharks to perform for the camera anyway?

One footnote, Kentis and Lau were at a Thai seaside resort when the horrendous tsunami hit. Fortunately, they managed to escape relatively unscathed. I wonder if the experience might influence their next film project.

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More Open Water reviews
review by . March 01, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****    In 1998, an American couple - claiming the names of Tom and Eileen Lonergan - along with a boat filled with people went scuba diving for a good day; the twist to this tragic story is that these two individuals never returned from the trip. Apparently, as a result of an inaccurate, lazy headcount on the group supervisor's account; the boat that they came in on left them behind while they were still submerged underwater. Onlookers of the sad, sad tale have …
review by . March 21, 2009
This would be a difficult film to watch on the big screen but it works out fine on the small screen. It is tough to say what I really think without providing spoilers but here goes.     It works on the DVD because the extra features showing how the movie was made and on such a low budget(basically a husband and wife made it in their spare time with two unknown actors) makes the movie a lot better than it is.     The beginning says that the movie is based on …
review by . March 19, 2009
Open Water
    What might have been just another exploitative man vs. nature film, the theme from "Jaws" playing in the background, is, instead, a dire reminder of fate and chance when dealing with unpredictable elements. A young couple, Daniel and Suzanne, exhibit the usual tensions of a relationship the night before a scheduled dive trip from an unnamed island, but are delighted to explore the depths of the ocean with the others on a chartered dive boat. When the dive times out, a busy …
review by . March 11, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
"Open Water" is a low-budget, mildly thrilling shark flick. Sure, it has real shark action in it (except for the biting parts), but there isn't quite enough here in the way of character development to warrant more than three stars. The beginning of the flick introduces us to Susan and Daniel, two of the most annoying young adults you'll ever run into. They constantly bicker, even when they're in the middle of the ocean. I was really gunning for the sharks to take a nip of both of them just to make …
review by . July 17, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
This would be a difficult film to watch on the big screen but it works out fine on the small screen. It is tough to say what I really think without providing spoilers but here goes.    It works on the DVD because the extra features showing how the movie was made and on such a low budget(basically a husband and wife made it in their spare time with two unknown actors) makes the movie a lot better than it is.    The beginning says that the movie is based on …
review by . February 10, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Obviously low budget, this movie details the events surrounding a couple at a resort island who go on a deep sea diving expedition....and are mistakenly left behind by the tour group. What follows are the events surrounding their attempts to stay alive--in the middle of the ocean with no land in site. There is inky blackness as they float in the dead of night, there are storms, and most frightening of all they have begun to perk the interest of the local sharks--which, as it turns out, are anything …
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Michael Meredith ()
Ranked #520
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Wiki

Proving that the power of imagination is much more terrifying than what meets the eye, OPEN WATER is Chris Kentis's intensely realistic deep-sea drama, "based on true events." The film's leering digital video camera allows viewers to float like shark-bait, stranded in the middle of the ocean with Susan and Daniel (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis), a bickering married couple who have just been abandoned by their scuba-diving boat in the Caribbean. As the tension escalates between the troubled twosome--who are cold, tired, dehydrated, and more than a little scared--the tragedy of the situation is exacerbated by a series of very unfortunate conditions. While a current sweeps them far from where the boat left them, and deep dark clouds pass menacingly overhead, the sea-life just below the surface is clearly not of the friendly variety. Yes, those are real sharks, folks. Meanwhile, Daniel, who watched Shark Week on television, is no stranger to the perils at hand, and finds himself battling shock. Minutes pa...
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Details

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Horror
Release Date: 2004, August 20, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: December 28, 2004
Runtime: 1hr 19min
Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
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