Open Water Review
By Shawn McKenzie 10/28/2004
Yes, Open Water has been called a mix between Jaws and The Blair Witch Project, but I found it more intriguing than that. It has elements from both, but I think that it stands alone all by itself in an experiment in real fear.
Contractor Daniel Kintner (Daniel Travis) and television producer Susan Watkins (Blanchard Ryan) are a couple who are so stressed out with their careers that they need to get away. They arrange a Caribbean vacation and do a little offshore scuba diving. Their stress has taken a toll on their relationship, even to the point that it has affected their sex life, and they hope that this getaway will be just the trick. The next morning, Daniel and Susan board a dive boat guided by Davis (Michael E. Williamson) and are told that they will be okay around sharks because they never come too close to divers. Davis counts all of the heads on the boat and notices that there are 20 divers there. He then instructs all of the divers to swim with a buddy, and they jump in to see the underwater world. A series of miscommunications ensue, including a guy named Seth (Saul Stein) who has lost his face mask and a woman named Estelle (Estelle Lau) who canít equalize her ears and canít go down, making Davis confused and leading him to give the wrong head count again. Meanwhile, theyíre late to return to the meeting spot 45 minutes later, so the couple finds themselves lost in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight. They panic at first, but they figure that the headcount was wrong and they will be back to pick them up. Unfortunately, as they get farther and farther away from shore, they begin to be concerned about the sharks and other things in the sea. As the hours pass on, Daniel and Susan try to comfort and entertain each other, but that turns into madness when the two yell and fight with each other out of fear and anger. Battling jellyfish, barracuda, thirst, cold, anger, exhaustion, boredom, and of course sharks, they begin to wonder if they will ever get out of their predicament with their lives.
This movie is the same as Jaws and The Blair Witch Project for small reasons. It is the same as Jaws because they both contain sharks, and it is the same as The Blair Witch Project because they are both horror movies with a small budget. Otherwise, it couldnít be more different than either. First off, this movie is almost more realistic because it deals with real sharks, not super bloodthirsty giant sharks, and there are no imagined supernatural witchy elements.
This is a frightening movie because it is something that could easily happen. In fact, it actually already did. It was inspired by the 1998 disappearance of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who were left behind by their diving boat off the coast of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I donít want to give away the end, but suffice to say, it was inspired by true events, not fabricated ones like the ones in The Blair Witch Project.
The real life married filmmaking team of director/writer/editor Chris Kentis and producer/cinematographer Laura Lau, whose only previous work was 1997ís Grind, have crafted a nerve-racking true thriller. It only cost them $130,000 to make after they sold it to Lionís Gate for $2.5 million at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, and to this date, it has grossed over $30.5 million. Thatís quite an impressive feat for the little horror movie that could.
Open Water has itís share of faults, like your not sure whether or not you are bored or just anticipating what will happen, but its 79 minutes justifies the wait. Donít compare it to other moviesÖthis one is frightening all on its own.
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