Kudos to the filmmakers for not resorting to the usual blood & guts & slo-mo tracking shots of the sharks approaching and devouring their prey. Instead, the filmmakers use a combination of total darkness accompanied by booming thunder and streaky lightning. This technique leaves us nervous and terrified, biting their nails, and hanging by a thread on the edge of their seats.

(2004) Film Review

This page was created on August 14, 2004
This page was last updated on December 28, 2004

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Dial up modems will take a few moments


Directed by Chris Kentis
Sceenplay by Chris Kentis

Cast (in credits order)
Blanchard Ryan .... Susan
Daniel Travis .... Daniel
Saul Stein .... Seth
Estelle Lau .... Estelle
Michael E. Williamson .... Davis
Cristina Zenarro .... Linda
John Charles .... Junior

Produced by
Estelle Lau .... associate producer
Laura Lau .... producer

Original Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
Film Edited by Chris Kentis

MPAA: Rated R for language and some nudity.
Runtime: USA:79 min

For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

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Based on true events, OPEN WATER follows a young couple, Daniel and Susan, (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan) on an island holiday. Even before they leave for the airport, we learn that Daniel and Susan's relationship is under strain from their workaholic lifestyles, and they need a vacation even more than they realized.

The next morning the couple, certified scuba divers, board a local dive boat for an underwater tour of the reef. The boat is crowded with other vacationers, and due to a series of innocent miscommunications, the couple is, after only 40 minutes or so underwater, accidentally left behind.

What follows is the story of their ordeal: cold, alone and miles from land, the couple is adrift in shark-infested waters.

Click to go to Kevin's BlogReview by KEVIN MILLER BLOG
Kevin Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and educator who has written, co-written, and edited over 30 books, both fiction and non-fiction. A film reviewer for the past two years, Kevin is very excited to join hollywoodjesus.com. He currently resides in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with his wife, Heidi, and their children Huw and Gretchen (and one more on the way). They attend Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational church that focuses on reaching the disabled, children, and people who've been "burnt by the church." To learn more about Kevin, visit www.kevinwrites.com

Click to enlarge“Rip-off.” That was the first thing I heard from the audience when this film was over. Although I would not offer that as my own one-word film review, I do agree that after setting us up with an intriguing premise, Open Water lets us down hard at the end.

Review Continued


Film Reviewer

Chris received his BA in Theatre from Grambling State University in Louisiana. He is an IT Techie by day and armchair film critic/analyst/lover by night. Upon coming to the Lord in 1994 and learning the Word, Chris began to notice Biblical principles and attributes displayed in Hollywood movies and began to apply them to his own life. It's his passion and mission to show the world (Christians and non-Christians) how to apply these principles to their own lives as well.
Click to enlargeThe following review contains spoilers.

POP QUIZ, hotshots:

You book a last-minute vacation and manage to squeeze in some time for scuba diving. You get up at 6:30 a.m., join your party, and the boat makes its way out into the ocean. The hosts insist that you utilize the buddy system to keep from getting lost, but you and your sweetie decide that you're brave enough to do your own thing in the deep blue sea.

Click to enlargeYou finish chasing eels and baby sharks and make your way back to the boat. One problem: the boat is gone. The scuba party has left you behind. For the next 24 hours, it’s just you, your sweetie, and an ocean full of sharks hungry for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then breakfast again. There’s no clear path to dry land. And . . . a storm is on the horizon as well.

What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?

For Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis), all they could do is stay afloat. And hope. And panic. And, ultimately, wait for the inevitable.

Click to enlargeOpen Water is a true-blue horror movie. Not because of the sharks. Not because of the sharks. Not even because it’s a typical blood and gore horror film. The real horror stems from the psychological terror of the situation: the guilt, the shame, the blame toward both themselves and one toward the other).

In the hours in which they bobble like wine corks on the open sea, Susan and Daniel go through a plethora of physical and emotional changes. Susan gets seasick and has to fight diarrhea from drinking the sea water. She also gets a scratch on her leg (stemming from a smaller fish . . . maybe a barracuda). Daniel is forced to monitor his lover’s sickness as well as keep an eye out for dangers under the sea. As time goes on, they begin to blame everyone from the "stupid tour guides" to Susan’s crazed work schedule, which forced them to take this trip instead of skiing. Ultimately, of course, they blame each other.

At the height of their terror -- and after a few near misses with some sharks -- we find Daniel reciting some very familiar words: “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.” That’s a brilliant portrait of our human condition. Whether we be Protestant or Catholic, evangelical or atheist, believer or nonbeliever, there’s a part of us on the inside that knows exactly Who to call on when terror strikes.

But, as I said before, ultimately this couple was just awaiting the inevitable. Kudos to the filmmakers for not resorting to the usual blood & guts & slo-mo tracking shots of the sharks approaching and devouring their prey. Instead, the filmmakers use a combination of total darkness accompanied by booming thunder and streaky lightning to let us know that the inevitable moment has arrived. This technique leaves the audience nervous and terrified, biting their nails, and hanging by a thread while sitting on the edge of their seats. That’s Thriller Movies 101, folks!

I posed a question earlier. If faced with (as Agent Smith referred to in “The Matrix”) the sound (or sight/touch/taste/feeling) of inevitability, what would you do? Would you revisit your life and beat yourself up for the things you didn’t accomplish? Would you become angry at those you love? Would you become angry at the God who loves you for allowing you to step into this position? Or would you do as Daniel and Susan did: in their final moments together, after all the terror and anguish, they ultimately reaffirmed their love for one another. Once they did that, they were able to surrender to the inevitable.

Which leads me to my one criticism of the film: As we walked out of the theater, we looked like a funeral procession. Not that there’s something wrong when movies don’t have happy endings (Open Water is based on true events). But most independent films have a knack for sending their audiences out on a sour note. I personally would have preferred to see an ending with their friends and family talking about their life together and the love they shared: a love for each other, and for adventure.

Bottom line: Open Water is truly scary. This film wasn’t designed for quick jumps in seats, gory tearing of flesh, and easy scares. As I said before, it’s true-blue horror that gets into . . . let alone under . . . your skin.


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