Open Water

Open Water is a much hyped low budget production described as a cross between "Jaws and Blair Witch". This is the tale of two divers left behind in the ocean by their chartered boat. They suffer the elements and encounter some sharks in their battle for survival and this is apparently "based on a true story". All I can say is don´t believe the hype or you´ll be sorely disappointed.

Daniel and Susan are the main characters, a career driven young couple out to enjoy a dream diving break in the Caribbean. We open with a series of dull, badly shot scenes which cover a variety of coupley clichés and chart their journey to the fateful dive. Both characters come across as self obsessed and do not form a very likeable pair as they bicker their way through what is meant to be a holiday.

Hapless couple attacked by sharks

Eventually they embark on the dive with a group of fellow tourists aboard a chartered boat. The problem is the people running the dive are complete and utter morons and manage to avoid having any sensible head count system, which results in the pair being left behind in the middle of the ocean. At first they are fairly calm about the situation but before long the tension begins to cause arguments and as things go from bad to worse the couple struggle to hold it together.

The diving instructors tell them that the sharks in the area are harmless but Susan is soon rammed by one and the pair are left panicking as the familiar fin glides towards them through the sparkling water. In this instance the shark leaves and they are left to float with the current. More arguments, a jellyfish field and of course the return of the sharks make their wait to be rescued quite unbearable.

The direction in this film is really awful. The first twenty minutes are amongst the most boring I have ever spent. There are lots of amateurish close-up shots of people milling around like some tedious holiday video. The script is scant, especially at the start, and too much of the film is experienced in silence. The director (Chris Kentis) seems to be dead set against giving a wide shot of anything so as a viewer you never feel that you have a sense of where the characters are. This changes for the better when they actually get into the water with some nice underwater shots and something approaching a real sense of tension about what may be lurking beneath the hapless duo.

Sadly the action sequences are also poorly filmed and there are far too few menacing glimpses of angry sharks. The bulk of the film is set in the water as the couple float along with the current waiting for someone to remember them and this is nicely done for the most part. The beginning of the film is a different story; it feels tagged on and doesn´t work at all. The shots chosen, the sound, the script and not least the terrible acting conspire to create a memorably bad introduction.

The actors here are poor; Susan is played by Blanchard Ryan and Daniel by Daniel Travis. They both have a super-straight boring quality about them which is brought to the surface by the lack of depth in character and clichéd relationship scenes. The guy is completely forgettable, the woman slightly less so partly because of the strangely out of place full nude shot of her near the start of the film (I guess the director felt he had to liven things up somehow but this was pretty ham-fisted).

I don´t want to reveal the ending as it is one of the few saving graces of the film. For the most part this is boring and feels a bit like a documentary with poor direction, writing, acting and sound. I'm at a loss to explain the hype surrounding this and how they managed to get such a great distribution deal and a cinema release. The film comes in at just 77 minutes and I'd like to claim them back.


Reviewed by Simon Hill

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