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Overall Rating
2.91

Awesome: 12.08%
Worth A Look32.85%
Average: 11.11%
Pretty Bad: 21.74%
Total Crap: 22.22%

13 reviews, 129 user ratings


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Open Water
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by Scott Weinberg

"Swimming with Sharks"
4 stars

"Open Water" was a fun movie to discuss with the festival-goers who hadn't seen it yet. "What's it about?" would lead to "It's about a husband and wife who go scuba diving with a large group led by an absent-minded guide; the boat leaves without them, and the pair must the spend 24+ hours bobbing up and down in the middle of the ocean. The distressingly shark-infested middle of the ocean." I'd like to think that I helped steer a few ticket-buyers towards "Open Water"...just on that synopsis alone.

These are the conversations that make one realize that a movie needn't be overstuffed with flashy effects (Open Water has none) or laden with expensive actors (again, none on display here) to get a jaded Festival audience interested enough to line up for 67 minutes in 10-degree weather. Present a compelling story (one that preferably involves sharks in some small way) and then tell people "Oh, by the way? This horrific ordeal? It really happened."

And then watch the theaters fill up and the distributors come courting.

So I say Good Job to director Chris Kentis (1997's Grind; that's NOT last year's skateboarding turkey, by the way...) for taking a terrifying and addictively fascinating true-life tragedy and turning it into a white-knuckled and wholly enjoyable little 'lost at sea' thriller.

Clocking it at just under 80 minutes, Open Water is not a film that could be accused of wasting time with unnecessary plot contrivances. Indeed there's only one plotline worth mentioning: Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) are harried and hurried executive-types, the sort of married couple who communicate in between frequent visits with their cell phones; the sort of duo who try to wedge a brief vacation into their frenzied lives...and promptly begin to regret this decision most earnestly.

Susan and Daniel seem a little bit snobby and elitist, and this explains why they feel the need to "separate from the crowd" once they plunge off the back of their tour boat and begin heading into the briny depths. Both are relatively accomplished scuba divers, so neither feel any trepidation at taking off for some private time on the ocean floor.

But through a logical and rather realistic sort of "headcount" error, Susan and Daniel are left behind. When they reappear on the ocean's surface, the pair are initially very confused as to where their boat got to.

Confusion turns to anger.

Anger turns to fear.

And as early morning slowly turns to evening, fear turns to terror.

Once the sharks show up in heavy rotation, I'll leave it to the individual viewer to decide what comes after "terror".

Because Open Water is horribly and blissfully intense, the sort of grass-roots thriller that will have you squirming in your seat as each successive dorsal fin breaks the waves. Not at all a horror film intent on delivering cheap thrills and copious body counts, Open Water is instead almost a comedy of errors; the series of events that have led to this poor couple's role as floating salad bar are based in a generic reality that lends some real tension to the tale; this sort of thing could happen to ANYone, the film plainly reports, and those who have a deep affinity for scuba diving will leave Open Water just a bit more cautious...and a whole lot more aware of which tour guides they might trust with their lives next time out.

Open Water is directed in a gritty, basic style on digital video. While this approach is often used by aspiring filmmakers with more good ideas than they have extra cash, it works to Kentis' advantage surprisingly well. Open Water has the feel of someone's home video footage, and by the time the truly terrifying moments of Shark Encounter kicks in, you'll be stunned to see how involved you are in what still feels like "home video footage".

In other words, Kentis was aiming for a sort of "intensity via reality" sort of thing and damn if they guy doesn't pull it off with flying colors. The sharks you see? Real. The actors? All real. The nominal distance between the actors and the chomp-happy eating machines? Very, very real.

Lion's Gate (always the champion of great and low-budget horror) wisely snapped this flick up right quick, and if the LG folks are as half as smart as I think they are, "Open Water" will hit about 1,000 screens sometime this June or July. This movie could do for scuba diving what "Jaws" did for swimming.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8548&reviewer=128
originally posted: 01/29/04 08:17:38
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/16/11 Steve Capell I would of liked some additional character development, but the movie held together well. 4 stars
11/10/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Zzzzzz... 1 stars
8/07/11 Hola Malisima! 1 stars
4/19/11 matthew Couldn't keep my eyes open 1 stars
12/18/10 millersxing It's scarier knowing that the crew braved shark-infested waters (no robot shark like Jaws) 4 stars
8/16/10 Sue Very real scenario....my cousin got left at sea just like this....very bloody scary 4 stars
8/06/10 Heather! Terrifying! I LOVED this film! The reality of the suspense was absolutely gripping! 5 stars
6/19/10 Heather this movie sucks because it passes its self off as a true story, they were never found 2 stars
1/04/10 plplouise requires some patience, unique--has an amateurish quality that makes all the more realistic 4 stars
3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess It's hard to care about charactors who are less developed then dead fetuses. 1 stars
2/19/09 Alistor This is one of the fucking shittest films i have ever seen in my life, piece of pish! 1 stars
12/04/08 PAUL SHORTT RARELY AS GRIPPING AS IT WANTS TO BE 2 stars
8/05/08 Bnorm Genuinely scary. killing blonde teenage whores isnt scary anymore; this was 5 stars
7/24/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
5/26/08 Beau quite suspenseful, it was hard to keeps my eyes off the screen! 3 stars
5/11/08 Tabitha Rabisa you wish you could jump in the movie and drown them after the first 15 minutes 1 stars
3/04/08 action movie fan harrowing and engrossing drama=very good 4 stars
2/16/08 Tracey Pounds terrible acting and went by so slow! 2 stars
2/13/08 Matt Slow. There's only so much you can do with this material and it ain't much. 3 stars
8/23/07 PC movie was really good 4 stars
8/21/07 wacky walley if the lady made love to the sharks at the end... I'd give 5 stars 2 stars
5/31/07 J.B Absolutely Terrifying. 5 stars
5/31/07 David Risser Actually pretty good! 4 stars
5/31/07 R.W. Welch Not a lot of polish but has a certain fascination. 3 stars
5/10/07 Cindy so fucking stupid, no sense, i was expecting alot more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/08/07 Tracey Chambers I kept thinking. would you just die already 2 stars
2/17/07 Vip Ebriega A documentary in a horror movie, makes it look more scarier. 3 stars
12/31/06 del Good to a point, but turn monotonous and dull. Would've worked better as a short. 3 stars
11/18/06 Hien This movie was never about sharks. It's more about suspense and the psychological effects. 5 stars
11/07/06 ted bundy fuck it 2 stars
10/22/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
10/10/06 Melanie it was slow and just crap 1 stars
8/14/06 Sharon CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP 1 stars
7/14/06 Louise This film really got under my skin - kept thinking, 'Thank God I am not in their situation' 5 stars
6/16/06 Michele a little slow but good 4 stars
6/01/06 Ole Man Bourbon Mother-fucking sharks, god dammit! Die, die, die!!! 4 stars
5/19/06 Amber Pifer Almost documentary realistic, which is what makes it so scary 4 stars
4/22/06 Jack Most Dramatic thing ever. I like it! 4 stars
3/24/06 jesika wtf? i have never been so insulted in all my life- the most stupid ass movie i've ever cn! 1 stars
3/08/06 myzzy It could have done without Jessica Alba, She only teased and took away from plot 2 stars
12/03/05 Jennifer S. This was the worst movie I have ever seen. 1 stars
11/27/05 cr based on a true story, supenseful and unrentless tension, actors were good way overated 3 stars
10/08/05 Jonathon Holmes an insult to "Jaws" 1 stars
9/02/05 Tom Burns Somewhat boring, but it did have some suspenseful parts. 4 stars
8/12/05 ES thank god they found that camera so they know what happened to them. hey wait a minute! 1 stars
7/17/05 bob johnson this movie wasnt scary at all and had NO action at all 2 stars
6/30/05 Eric Crooks Warning Jaws fans, this is NOT A SHARK MOVIE! It's just another crapy Love Movie 1 stars
5/19/05 wendy rogers One of the worst movies I have ever seen 2 stars
5/13/05 Jennifer Regan The ending was a big disappointment, I thought they would get rescued 3 stars
5/07/05 edsandiego2 I have been wanting to see this movie and after reading the reviews, I'll definetly will. 4 stars
3/29/05 indrid cold Interesting minimalist concept, but "Jaws" makes this look like "Finding Nemo". 3 stars
3/18/05 Sheila not bad, expecting something different 4 stars
3/16/05 Judith Musick AFTER THIS, NO BOATS FOR ME, EVER! 4 stars
2/23/05 Vince A very involving movie. Had me glued to the edge of my seat. 4 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Supposed to be a true story, how could they know? Disappointing! 2 stars
2/14/05 Nathan Wilhite It is very suspensful, and I don't think I ever want to go scuba diving! 4 stars
2/13/05 Deanna Diebler I didn't like the ending,or the nude scene that just seemed thrown in 2 stars
2/09/05 nannette ryan There is now much they could do with this movie. They wouldn't know what they did or thoug 2 stars
2/05/05 youreo The best part of this film is knowing how it was made. Slow but touching. 4 stars
2/04/05 A. Jason surrounded by shark ? who knows ? 1 stars
1/29/05 terri shaw TRUE STORY? How does anyone know what happened once the boat left? 1 stars
1/29/05 Darryl I liked it! Touched on every human emotion with many tense moments. Disappointing end. 4 stars
1/19/05 Joe Phone Booth was a good one-set movie. So was Cube. Open water, however, was not. 2 stars
1/16/05 Charlene Javier Much ado about nothing. 1 stars
1/08/05 Virginia Worst movie i have ever seen. i want that time that i wasted back. 1 stars
12/31/04 alchemist1066 think blair witch in water, idea's there, movie's not 3 stars
12/30/04 Geo78665 With better characters and more suspense, this could've been really good. 2 stars
12/30/04 Debra Sherman I wanted to drown both of them after about 1/2 an hour 3 stars
11/22/04 louis briiliant and real, 5 stars
11/20/04 Alice I liked it because I thought about it long after... 4 stars
11/19/04 A. Jason Not worth to be played in Cinema and DVD 1 stars
11/10/04 davey it was fucking shite 1 stars
11/06/04 TCIC The initial idea was good, but it wasn't carried out as it should have been 2 stars
10/28/04 Eve IT SUCKED !!! HONESTLY WORST MOVIE EVER 1 stars
10/23/04 john bale Not bad for a home movie of Jaws, but TOO long ! 3 stars
10/17/04 BD Even full frontal nudity couldn't save this film 1 stars
10/15/04 simba worst movie i ever seen in my entire life!!! 1 stars
10/14/04 Desperado Possibly the worst ending of all time, why? is the only question that need to be asked 1 stars
10/07/04 Rob P S Sad and disturbing. 4 stars
10/05/04 Jenny Tullwartz Totally amateurish cinematography -- Its THE BLAIR SHARK PROJECT 2 stars
10/03/04 rebecca mills the film was ok but to much talking. 3 stars
10/01/04 Elizabeth Effective psychological suspense on a low budget. 3 stars
9/30/04 Ashley Annoyed by the Film! 1 stars
9/21/04 Zee crap 1 stars
9/17/04 MC Best actors were the sharks 1 stars
9/15/04 christina chin 5 stars
9/14/04 Jenny R Worst Movie I've Ever Seen 1 stars
9/13/04 Mark R id rather pluck my pubic hair then watch this again, STAY AWAY FROM THIS FILM 1 stars
9/06/04 Harris Bad movie. Very disappointing. 1 stars
9/04/04 jeff s. this movie was very slow and boring. it characters were very annoying. 2 stars
9/04/04 malcolm 2 people bobbing in the ocean. so F-ing what! 2 stars
9/03/04 Vincent Very cool. Blair Witch meets Jaws. (Its true!) 5 stars
9/03/04 JM a great film 5 stars
9/03/04 Kim Thornburg This film absolutely sucked! The whole theater booed when it was over! 1 stars
8/30/04 Missy Libner Great movie. I would like to find out the truth to the real story. Where Can I find out? 4 stars
8/30/04 Rob Very plausable. Disturbs rather than entertains. I liked it. 4 stars
8/29/04 Ahnold Could've been better,but like already said, scary part is how easily could happen 3 stars
8/29/04 JM a great film 5 stars
8/28/04 Mike Next time I mention Open Water, hit me on the head, it would be less painful the movie ! 1 stars
8/27/04 Tom Cairns What kind of sharks,did you use 2 stars
8/27/04 janice sullivan waste of money 1 stars
8/26/04 Maureen McDevitt The scary part was how easily it could happen... 3 stars
8/26/04 Anthony G fucking boring, I was about to whip out my dick and start jacking off to entertain myself 1 stars
8/25/04 Pamela Marsen Ultimately disturbing & thought-provoking. Existential plot of man lost in the universe. 4 stars
8/25/04 Adam and Steve sucks 8======> 1 stars
8/24/04 Ruth Ferguson I was rather disappointed with this film, even @ 80 minutes it seemed long. 3 stars
8/23/04 Dee pscychological experience 5 stars
8/23/04 ajay okay... 3 stars
8/23/04 wasted $4 on this movie, zzzzzzzzzz to mention this movie along with jaws is a insult. no action, no nothin BAD MOVIE 1 stars
8/22/04 caity wolf this was a low budget movie that was very boring. i wanted to get up and leave during it. 1 stars
8/21/04 t t 1 stars
8/21/04 juan rodriguez movie was very stupid,should've had more shark attack scenes,better than jaws / not! 1 stars
8/20/04 Sandra Intense, hopeful and extremely sad -- two thumbs up!!! 4 stars
8/19/04 Eric Cash This movie did what vaseline does for gays, it made me feel good for 7 bucks or so. 5 stars
8/14/04 Pete One of the worst movies ever made-don't waste your money 1 stars
8/13/04 Janice Held my attention even though it was basically a two person cast. 4 stars
8/11/04 Lane Intense, but boring....I don't reccomend 2 stars
8/10/04 Anthony G wow so fucking boring, rather watch blues clues for a year than this one more time 1 stars
8/10/04 AL great move different stupid hollywood stories happy endings and effects 5 stars
8/10/04 Nikki THIS FILM SUCKED! 1 stars
8/09/04 dave finally a movie worse than' bio-dome' 1 stars
8/09/04 Chris I went and saw this movie last night and was fully disappointed. 1 stars
8/08/04 Alex a fine thriller...I felt detached from it at times, but left the theater shaken 5 stars
8/08/04 Mike what a rip!!! Worst fucking movie ever, soooo bored 1 stars
8/08/04 scott ward complete shit 1 stars
8/08/04 SHELLi it was grEat!!! i absolutally lOvEd it!! you won't exept what happens at the end, go c it!! 5 stars
8/07/04 Robert Britz It was hard to get scared in a theater that would not sop laughing. 2 stars
6/25/04 Ray Great 5 stars
5/30/04 dsfdf dfsgs 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  14-Oct-2004


Directed by
  Chris Kentis

Written by
  Chris Kentis

Cast
  Blanchard Ryan
  Daniel Travis
  Saul Stein
  Estelle Lau



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