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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



Open Water
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Overlooked horror mini-classic."
5 stars

About the only thing holding 'Open Water' back from being an indisputable masterpiece is the fact that it's a 79-minute movie. It almost needs to be an experience -- a thrill ride at a theme park, say, in which we are marooned in darkness and among hungry animals for 24 hours. If any movie could've benefited from being a real-time Andy Warhol experiment that runs for eight hours, 'Open Water' might just be it.

As it is -- an abbreviated yet often harrowing fable of the utter insignificance of man and his digital trappings -- the film is some kind of boiled-down classic, a survival piece that goes Cast Away one better, lacking even the comforting stability of land.

You've probably heard the synopsis: A yuppie couple, Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis), go scuba-diving on vacation and are left behind by the boat. Left behind -- those words, even more than the curious sharks and the nonchalantly stinging jellyfish, turn our blood to ice. It's been said that even those who live thousands of miles away from the ocean were terrified by Jaws, because (so the theory goes) we evolved into land-walkers in order to get away from those aquatic things with teeth, and we still carry a primal fear of sea predators in our cells. Add to this the childhood fear of being abandoned -- forgotten, disregarded, as if we never existed. Open Water is no novelty film like The Blair Witch Project; the film's director, Chris Kentis, resents the perhaps inevitable comparisons, and rightly so. Open Water does, and does brilliantly and economically, everything Blair Witch fumbled.

Like many horror films, this is not a nice one. Blame for the affluent white couple's lamentable situation, if you felt like nitpicking the film's stereotypes, could be distributed evenly among a squeamish Asian woman who can't handle the dive, the pushy Jew who borrows her mask so he can dive, and the careless black guide who gets the head count wrong. Ultimately, though, the blame falls on Susan and Daniel for presuming to be masters of their domain, even when hopelessly out of their element. Marooned at sea, the couple respond with eminent realism: disbelief followed by dismay followed by despair. This is not an environment that these two, formerly ensconced in a universe of laptops and cell phones, can hope to master, much less survive. Open Water will send control freaks into paroxysms of anxiety: The miles of ocean beneath you and around you don't care who you are. You are a molecule, you are driftwood, you are amusement for sharks.

The acting at the very beginning is somewhat blank, I assume by design. Susan and Daniel are your typical eternally distracted drones, digitally attached to their jobs. Susan in particular is plagued by calls from the office, even when readying for departure; how much she would give to have an annoying cell phone a day or so later. The yuppies yearn for a temporary escape from civilization, and get it with a vengeance. Daniel at one point lets out the essential yuppie howl at the injustice of his fate: not "Why us?", not "God, help us!", but "We paid to do this!" In context the line is horrifyingly funny, trumping by far the various outbursts of frustration in Blair Witch.

As the movie proceeds, the characters are stripped down to their basics, and Ryan and Travis do a heroic job of submitting to the unforgiving elements. These whitebread breadwinners are reduced to their skins and nerve endings, buffeted about by weather, casually bumped by sharks who seem to regard our protagonists as too inconsequential to bother eating -- just yet. Far from being a minimalist rewrite of Jaws, Open Water taps into the current fear of being impersonally destroyed by unseen forces that don't care if we live or die. It also touches our experiences in other, less direct ways: Susan and Daniel could just as well be sitting in a hospital's waiting room, dreading bad news.

Sooner or later we all face the cold knowledge that the universe doesn't really take notice of us, that the bodies we worry about so much are subject to invasion by cancer, heart disease, or any number of other things that don't care how well our jobs are going or what our dreams are. 'Open Water' does what all classic horror does: it makes us stare death in the face and recognize the face as our own.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8548&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/31/06 03:55:20
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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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