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Open Water (2004)
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Review Date: August 03, 2004
Director: Chris Kentis
Writer: Chris Kentis
Producers: Laura Lau
Actors:
Blanchard Ryan as Susan
Daniel Travis as Daniel
Saul Stein as Seth
Plot:
A workaholic team of husband and wife finally take some time to go on vacation, and hitch a ride aboard a boat that is taking folks scuba-diving into the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately for the busy-bee couple, the boat mistakenly leaves them behind, with only water, each other and sharks as company. An extremely unfortunate circumstance turned into a film...ensues. And yes, this is yet another movie that is apparently "based on true events"...yawn.
Critique:
As a wise man named Nice Guy Eddie once said, "first things fuckin' last", so allow me to begin this review with this cautionary notice: don't go into this movie expecting to "jump out of your skin" or anything resembling the over-the-top frightfest that its marketing campaign has been touting, and you might just enjoy a solid movie that doesn't feature as many sharks or scares as you might think, but does offer plenty of claustrophobia, an intriguing premise and build-up, and an ending that definitely got under my skin. More than anything, this is an uncomfortable and queasy flick that felt "small" (shot on digital video, very few characters, low budget, etc...), but also very realistic and eerie because of its restraints. Thankfully, the filmmakers provided just enough back-story about the two leads, to keep me interested in their dire situation, as most of the movie essentially just follows the duo, alone and floating, in the middle of the ocean. And while I was skeptical about how the film would manage to maintain my attention throughout its entire runtime, focusing solely on these two characters, I have to say that I was quite impressed by how engaged I remained throughout the film's short 80-minute presentation, especially as it moved forward. By the end of the movie, I was literally in the water with these two poor souls, as they went through one harrowing moment after the other. I'd love to discuss the ending with you all, but the less you know about it, the better, so you won't hear anything about it from me.

Suffice it to say that I quite liked the way the film concluded, and found the last sequence particularly poetic. Some bits that I didn't fully appreciate included the sub-par acting that surfaced from time to time, the editing choices which would cut away during some important moments, only to return with them being resolved, and the lack of deeper emotion from the two forgotten scuba-divers. I did like the overall interaction between the two leads though, which felt believable with moments of anger, humor, love and blame all needling their way throughout their dilemma. The sharks were okay, but with all the hype surrounding the film (and its comparisons to JAWS), I really expected a lot more scares and impact from the nutty fish, but wasn't really blown away by them. Granted, a couple of "boo" scares did make their way into the final cut (as did a tit and bush shot...thank you very much), but overall, I was intrigued more by the isolation and unknown future of the castaways, than any of the "chilling" underwater stuff. I was also surprised at how great-looking Blanchard Ryan was in the scenes outside of the water...wow! Another aspect of the film which seemed to work half the time was its score, which was terribly effective and terrifying in some scenes, but odd and out of place in others, with the African chant stuff getting on my nerves. Overall, I can say that this film's smaller stature, its claustrophobic nature, its surprisingly potent cinematography (some beautiful shots in here), its lead relationship and its powerful ending won me over its less successful bits. The film also featured one of my favorite lines of the year so far: "I wanted to go skiing". Nice!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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