I had no intention to see this film. I figured since Spielberg had already done a film on shark attacks nearly two decades ago, this film couldn’t have any worthiness to it. Well, I was wrong. Open Water is a movie that will bring to mind similarities and comparison to Jaws and The Blair Witch Project. I know the two films seem that they would be totally unrelated, however director Chris Kentis managed to merge a Jaws-type plot with the filming style (and shoe-string budget) of Blair Witch. The result is an enjoyable, suspenseful, and interesting film that is well worth the price of admission.
Our main characters are a lovely couple, Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis), who take a last minute vacation to a tropical paradise. The two are worn out and seek respite from their hectic lives, especially Susan, whose work schedule didn’t permit them to vacation when and where they’d originally planned. The couple head out on a scuba diving expedition, which begins innocently enough…everyone is laughing, enjoying the sun, and anticipating their underwater exploration. To cut to the chase—the pair end up stranded in the middle of the big blue sea when their boat leaves them behind, due to an erroneous head count. We are in Open Water for 80 minutes, and the majority of that time shows Susan and Dave doing battle with the elements, jellyfish, sea-sickness, and each other. Yet, lurking in the depths are sharks, and the couple realize, as darkness approaches, that they aren’t the only ones in the water getting hungry.
The movie succeeds with the very simplicity of both the plot and setting, which would lead many people to calculate its failure. The resiliency is that it the Open Water is more psychological than anything else. It isn’t a typical horror movie; there are a few startling moments, but nothing in the way of sheer terror. It’s knowing that you are stranded, in water that you can not drink, where death swims below you--not knowing if you will be rescued. Oddly, there were a few times the movies managed to extract a chuckle or two at a few points in the film. It may seem unusual, given the situation of the characters, and they sympathy you are likely to feel for them, it seems out of place you would laugh at their predicament—but you will.
It’s obvious how one can see the Jaws reference, but the Blair element comes to mind…being lost in the middle of nowhere, the squabbling between the characters, assigning blame, and the grainy 35mm cameras used in filming. It seemed at a couple moments that you were watching reality TV, but this was much more interesting.
Open Water ended in a way that had varying impacts on the audience members around me. Some people expected it, others were thrown for a loop, and many others just regarded it as the ending of the film. I guess the characters’ actions at the end of the movie are something you can’t really judge unless you’ve swam a mile in their wetsuits…but given that choice; I’d rather stay on dry land.
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