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Overall Rating
2.92

Awesome: 12.44%
Worth A Look33.01%
Average: 11%
Pretty Bad: 21.53%
Total Crap: 22.01%

13 reviews, 131 user ratings


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Open Water
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by Jay Seaver

"A horror movie based on despair rather than dread."
4 stars

Open Water had the most effective trailer I've seen in a long time, because the basic concept is enough to freak one out and readjust your fears. Tension and fear are one thing, but Open Water offers despair. I recommended The Blair Witch Project because of how, supernatural elements aside, they nailed how being lost in the woods was one of the scariest things a person can go through, with potential danger behind every tree and none of the things human beings use to control their environment at hand.

That's bad, but the flip side is that civilization or a landmark or something useful might be just beyond that tree a few meters away. In the middle of the ocean, though, you would know just how screwed you are. You can see for miles and not only is there nobody to help, but ever direction looks the same. You can be drifting with the current and not even be aware of how far you've gone or in what direction. Salvation is not just around the corner, there's nothing you can do, and there's not even much in the way of information.

That's the situation Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan) eventually find themselves in. They're a likable young couple, attractive, too busy and stressed from their jobs, and just off on a vacation somewhat thrown together at the last minute. They sign up for a scuba-diving expedition, but a miscount on the boat leads to the rest of the group leaving while these two are still underwater.

And that is, for the most part, the last hour of the movie. They're stranded in tropical waters which are home to sharks and, in what is potentially an even more creepy visual, jellyfish. They've got nothing to do but try and stay afloat, avoid hungry sea creatures, and try to remain supportive of each other. As one might expect, extreme situations tend to dredge up strong feelings and buried resentments. This is occasionally broken up by cuts to the boat, where the tour operators and fellow passengers will hopefully eventually recognize that someone is missing so that the rescue ship one hopes is coming in the last act won't be a gigantic deus ex machina.

For a low-budget, shot-on-digital-video independant film, Open Water looks great. No, it won't put the IMAX shows at the New England Aquarium to shame, but the colors are very nice and graininess is seldom a problem. Writer/director Chris Kentis chooses relatively straightforward compositions as opposed to trying to deceive the audience with the camera - the natural environment will do that well enough on its own.

The performances are good, especially once the cast is in the water. On land, Ryan and Travis are perhaps given a little too long to establish that they're regular folks, and have an easier time of it when they get to let loose with the strong fear, anger, and desperation. The movie may have benefitted by stretching the short running time out a little longer and giving some of these strong feelings time to build before exploding, but it does work fairly well as-is, and there may only be so long the audience can look at the same thing before fatigue starts to set in.

Even at eighty minutes, that's still something of an issue. The movie is great at delivering initial shocks, but the awareness that's one is watching a movie with all the attendant time compression makes sustaining it a bit trickier. Despair takes time to build in real life, as one needs hope actually drained away, but doing that takes more time than a movie can afford.

Most horror movies work on dread, and dread can be established more easily than despair. It's harder to demonstrate a negative, after all. Open Water takes a different tack, and it works out pretty well.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8548&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/30/04 22:21:52
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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

10/30/16 morris campbell scary shark flick not 4 everyone 4 stars
11/05/15 David Hollingsworth Completely scary and intense. 5 stars
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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