Published Sep 01, 2004If Apocalypse Now taught us anything, it was never get off the boat. If Jaws taught us anything, it was never go in the water. Obviously, the people in Open Water needed to watch more movies instead of trying to live life to its fullest. Loosely based on true events (or, at least, a very uncommon, but not unique, scenario), Open Water tells the tale of a vacationing couple who, while on a diving expedition, accidentally get abandoned in the ocean, miles from land, isolated and truly alone, save for the countless sharks teeming in the water around them. While at times looking its low-budget pedigree (Open Water was filmed by real life couple and certified divers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau on weekends and holidays) and featuring not a single CGI effect (yup, those sharks next to the actors are real), Open Water does manage to convey the terror, isolation and desperation of the situation. After a quick establishing of the couple (played by Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis) as two people who probably love each other but are stressed by their hectic lives and possibly bored with their relationship, Open Water wastes no time in getting them on vacation, into the ocean and in peril. Abandoned, adrift and alone in a terrible situation, the couple cling to each other and the hope that someone will rescue them. But, as shark sightings mount and time passes, the accusations fly and the blaming begins (which does feel a bit forced), even as the dangers around the couple mount and the situation becomes increasingly perilous.
It's a lot floating in the water, floating, "Is that a shark?," floating, floating but Open Water ratchets up the tension by only offering fleeting glimpses of the dangers below, but even with some nice shots of the ocean and an exceptional tropical storm at night, it does start to drag (despite its 79-minute running time) before its finale. While it's possible to draw conclusions about man's arrogance in venturing into the wild, or the tendency to take our comfortable existence for granted, Open Water works best without the moralising, simply as a tight, bleak suspense film. (Lions Gate)