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Susan May Pratt,
Richard Speight Jr.,
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A couple on a holiday in the Caribbean decide to spend the day on a scuba diving trip. But was it the wrong decision? When a mis-count happens on the boat, Susan and Daniel are left behind in the middle of the ocean, the boat long gone. With all their hopes set on the boat coming back to rescue them, they try to keep themselves safe, especially when sharks start to appear. Written by
This movie was financed by director Chris Kentis and his wife, producer Laura Lau, both avid scuba divers. The movie cost $130,000 to make and was later bought by Lion's Gate for $2.5 million after its screening at Sundance. See more »
When Daniel and Susan first submerge, they are still talking to each other despite having regulators in their mouths. See more »
[on his cellphone]
Hey Don. It's Daniel. Listen, don't put the boiler in until I get back. The framing inspection isn't for a couple of weeks, so we've got plenty of time. And I'll check in with you guys in a couple of days, OK? Take care. Bye.
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As the credits roll, a fisherman guts a dead shark. As he sorts through the contents of its stomach, he finds Susan and Daniel's yellow camera. See more »
Only thing it has in common with a certain shark movie is the color of the water
Open Water has gotten a bum-rep with horror fans because either they were expecting a Jaws-esque type film or they wanted it to be something it never set itself out to be. This is a very crafty thriller combined of evocative shots of water, intensity coming from every conceivable angle, and two innocent characters we can't help but feel sympathetic for. This has all the key ingredients for a film like this, but still, some inevitable problems come into play.
The story is loosely based off of a true story that happened in 1998 where an American couple named Tom and Eileen Lonergan went out on a scuba-diving trip and were accidentally abandoned at sea. They were never found, but a diver's slate and their scuba gear was later recovered. To this day we don't know what happened, but we can assume they drowned or something of that nature.
The characters are Susan and Daniel (Ryan and Travis), an couple who is frustrated with their hectic lives that makes it so they can not spend quality time together. They plan a scuba diving trip, and take the vacation as a means of relaxation. While diving one day, the boat leaves due to a failed head-count. Susan and Daniel are now trapped in the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight and an occasional boat just to tease them.
In terms of the premise, it's simple and effective. But what really works is the screenplay. When movie characters are frustrated, what do they usually do? Curse, right? Same goes for some real-life people too. It's become a common standard to we swear when agitated or pushed to our personal limit. The film manages to capture the fear and helplessness in Susan and Daniel's eyes without having them utter any obscenities in a redundant and uncontrollable manner.
Even with its low budget, Open Water manages to pull through effectively proving that independent films are like the quiet kid in school who never fights. He packs more of a punch when brought into the spotlight, and that's how a lot of independent films are today. Just by watching the first few minutes of Open Water, you can tell immediately that the film isn't of a Hollywood breed and simply works off of what it has.
Inevitably, some problems come into play, like I mentioned before. For one, the setting is blunt and realistic, but droning after a while. With claustrophobic movies, especially like this one, you need to rely on the screenplay to prevent the setting from growing old too fast. That is one of the greatest challenges in claustrophobic films; making due with what you have.
In Adam Green's Frozen, about three teenagers trapped on top of a ski-lift in the dead of winter, what kept the movie going was its setting, its characters, and the dialog they recited. It was believable and fearful. The dialog here is composed of arguments and random topics. We don't learn too much more about the characters other than they're stressed and they're in desperate need of a vacation.
What keeps the setting from getting old, up until the final twenty minutes of the film, are its uses of several different and effective shots. Different camera angles are used, plenty of variety to prevent repetition, and even some excellent underwater cinematography when the characters take their first dive below surface. I even appreciated some shots where the camera would bob up and down for a few seconds before dipping underwater.
Open Water is nice and concise at only a seventy-nine minute run time. Anymore, and this would likely breed a not-so-nice-rating. This isn't the best out of all the claustrophobic horror films, but it's definitely one of the most eerie. One chilling line that stayed with me was when Daniel screams out of anger that "we paid to do this." It's true. They had to pay to get left out in the middle of shark-infested water, dehydrated, starving, and alone. Almost sounds like the complaint of a smoker lying on a hospital bed.
Starring: Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis. Directed by: Chris Kentis.
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