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Overall Rating
2.92

Awesome: 12.44%
Worth A Look33.01%
Just Average: 11%
Pretty Crappy: 21.53%
Sucks: 22.01%

13 reviews, 131 user ratings


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Open Water
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by Marc Kandel

"Did the water just get warmer? My movie seat did."
4 stars

Good clean fun- By clean I mean the salt water instantly sanitizes the ripped flesh and jellyfish stings. Oh, so does the urine. Not so well in the movie seat though.

Open Water is a fun, gripping thrill right up from the pit of your stomach. Made more so by director Chris Kentis's film-making choices enabling we the viewers to become flies on the wall, or wave in this case, looking at two human beings everyone knows, either from the mirror or from wanting to knock their heads together like Moe when you see them on the subway, in the park, the cafeteria- the possibilities are endless. Then we are given an instantly recognizable banal vacation and all the little irritations and stresses inherent, and then we are thrown into a sanity bending horror few would wish on their own worst enemies (except for me- Death to all enemies!).

Quick plot- a workaholic couple on a do everything see nothing vacation get stranded out in the middle of the ocean by a tour boat whose crew still needs to take of their shoes to count to 20. Couple bobs, jellyfish, thunder clouds and sharks come over for a meet and greet. All in all, a compact, enjoyable film.

Why compact? Because at a trim 79 minutes, the film succeeds where the majority of today's (and by "today" I can stretch back to at least 1980) horror movies flounder and fail- the film puts us in the situation quickly and succinctly after making us part of a familiar couple's world for just enough time to understand, identify and make our snap judgments about these people- in other words, we don't have to spend 15-20 minutes picking our favorite paper dolls among the luckless virgin nerd, the oversexed slut, the pure innocent male/female, the braying frat boy, the town sheriff, etc, etc. and so forth, and all of their hastily written character work, non-titillating sex (in a wry comment on this topic, the couple in this movie don't even bother, naked and well-groomed though they are, as they suffer from jet lag and discomfort in their third world hotel room), as well as the tired motivations of the knife/chainsaw/hatchet/furry dildo wielding Vampire, Alien, Satan, Clint Howard's of the horror universe.

Nope, none of that. Just two everyman types thrown into nature doing what its supposed to- naturally selecting the stronger species in a specific environment. Hell, the sharks aren't even mutated or angry at mankind for polluting! Nope, this is straight out fun with reality.

In many respects, the characters aren't even important- the situation is. The people could really be anybody (there you go for everyone out there who is not a pretty white couple with frighteningly perfect teeth)- all that's required is their humanity. They just happen to be loosely based on an actual couple (though the movie characters do not even share the same names), and I sincerely doubt much was done to research who these people were, above and beyond the victims of a tragic accident- again, interesting at best, but not essential- its not a biography. But the situation is made all the more real and gripping by the actors walking the razor's edge between annoying whitebread couple #190 stereotype, and two very real, frightened human beings desperately clinging to hope and each other in an aggressively hostile alien environment. The fun here comes in the director and actors' ability to blend the two into a satisfying whole. Yes, the couple as they are portrayed here are pretty annoying to be honest. Yes, I could care less about the modern angst of two upwardly mobile automatons. But once we are off the boat, the cell phones aren't there. The snazzy looking wet-suits and rental equipment are now the only superficial things differentiating these creatures from other animals. The family SUV, Starbucks, palm pilots, all the trappings of modern society are gone, a distant dream of a civilized world. Soon, not even the Scuba equipment matters anymore- its next to useless in any practical sense- we have two land animals bobbing on the surface of a world not created for them, at the mercy of an aquatic jungle. Now all we have to separate them from prey animals is what? Reason? Intellect? Defiance? Love?

As the unnerving tension increases, the film poses these questions- not by hitting you over the head with them, but just through simple human reaction to a terrible set of circumstances- punctuated by the viewer's mind realizing that this actually happened to people. In the end, that's what we have here. Two human beings at nature's mercy- and there isn't a single person in the audience who can't empathize and wonder if they would do anything different or better (yeah, I would have tried to swim for the distant boats).

The performances come off a trifle uneven by the real life married couple Daniel Travis and Blanchard (oh give me a fucking break with these fanciful actress names) Ryan, as they are indeed a bit caricaturish of the young white and privileged set running around bitching about schedules on their cell phones, but once all the day-to-day crap is thrown out the window and the window is left on the beach, we have some top notch reactions to some really fun wildlife and isolation (though there is one laughter inducing line reading of I Love You that would have been better left unsaid, or said underwater where we couldn't hear it).

Deserved comparisons have been drawn to the Blair Witch Project, but honestly I found this a much more solid film and the energy is different here, the director or perhaps the performers giving a bit more structure to the dialogue, not content to just pass off conversation with the word "fuck" every other syllable, a popular fallback for the Blair improvers, lending weight to the moments when more extreme language is appropriate, rather than a fill-in for having nothing to say and trying to sound "real".

One question coming back to me is if the movie would have worked a trifle better if the director had chosen not to flip back to land occasionally. Scenes of life going on, vacations being enjoyed, and the tour boat operators realizing their mistake and mounting a search party did provide some breaks in the tension and gave a ray of hope for the abandoned couple, but as the movie drew on I found myself wishing that once the tour boat left, we saw nothing more of life in safety on dry ground- after all, Tom and Eileen Lonergan the real life couple, certainly didn't have that option and I felt the audience shouldn't either. But overall, the film does what it needs to, providing a great deal of enjoyment through wrenching tension, good scares, and some genuine heartfelt pathos.

I'm not going to say anything else about the film, not because of any worry over the fucking stupid "Surprise Ending Syndrome" that has infected moviegoers' fragile minds these days, but because you should walk into the theater fearing the unknown, and see what happens. That's where the fun really is- the journey. I will say that it should be seen on the big screen if at all possible- I'm sure it will translate well to DVD in a darkened room, but the scope of the water looming over you makes this one of the few films from this summer really deserving a theatrical viewing.

Open Water is not Jaws-lite, its not the Blair Shark Project, and doesn't try to be. This film is it's own animal, And the thing's got teeth. Lots of teeth.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8548&reviewer=358
originally posted: 09/23/04 17:37:14
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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
11/04/15 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
11/09/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Zzzzzz... 1 stars
8/06/11 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
8/05/10 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
1/03/10 plplouise requires some patience, unique--has an amateurish quality that makes all the more realistic 4 stars
3/15/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess It's hard to care about charactors who are less developed then dead fetuses. 1 stars
2/18/09 Alistor This is one of the fucking shittest films i have ever seen in my life, piece of pish! 1 stars
12/03/08 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
7/23/08 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
5/10/08 Tabitha Rabisa you wish you could jump in the movie and drown them after the first 15 minutes 1 stars
3/03/08 action movie fan harrowing and engrossing drama=very good 4 stars
2/15/08 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
8/22/07 PC movie was really good 4 stars
8/20/07 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
5/30/07 David Risser Actually pretty good! 4 stars
5/30/07 R.W. Welch Not a lot of polish but has a certain fascination. 3 stars
5/09/07 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
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega A documentary in a horror movie, makes it look more scarier. 3 stars
12/30/06 del Good to a point, but turn monotonous and dull. Would've worked better as a short. 3 stars
11/17/06 Hien This movie was never about sharks. It's more about suspense and the psychological effects. 5 stars
11/06/06 ted bundy fuck it 2 stars
10/21/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
10/09/06 Melanie it was slow and just crap 1 stars
8/13/06 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
6/15/06 Michele a little slow but good 4 stars
6/01/06 Ole Man Bourbon Mother-fucking sharks, god dammit! Die, die, die!!! 4 stars
5/18/06 Amber Pifer Almost documentary realistic, which is what makes it so scary 4 stars
4/21/06 Jack Most Dramatic thing ever. I like it! 4 stars
3/23/06 jesika wtf? i have never been so insulted in all my life- the most stupid ass movie i've ever cn! 1 stars
3/07/06 myzzy It could have done without Jessica Alba, She only teased and took away from plot 2 stars
12/02/05 Jennifer S. This was the worst movie I have ever seen. 1 stars
11/26/05 cr based on a true story, supenseful and unrentless tension, actors were good way overated 3 stars
10/07/05 Jonathon Holmes an insult to "Jaws" 1 stars
9/01/05 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
7/16/05 bob johnson this movie wasnt scary at all and had NO action at all 2 stars
6/29/05 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
5/12/05 Jennifer Regan The ending was a big disappointment, I thought they would get rescued 3 stars
5/06/05 edsandiego2 I have been wanting to see this movie and after reading the reviews, I'll definetly will. 4 stars
3/28/05 indrid cold Interesting minimalist concept, but "Jaws" makes this look like "Finding Nemo". 3 stars
3/17/05 Sheila not bad, expecting something different 4 stars
3/15/05 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
2/13/05 Nathan Wilhite It is very suspensful, and I don't think I ever want to go scuba diving! 4 stars
2/12/05 Deanna Diebler I didn't like the ending,or the nude scene that just seemed thrown in 2 stars
2/08/05 nannette ryan There is now much they could do with this movie. They wouldn't know what they did or thoug 2 stars
2/04/05 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
1/28/05 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
1/15/05 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
12/30/04 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
12/29/04 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
11/19/04 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
11/05/04 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
10/14/04 simba worst movie i ever seen in my entire life!!! 1 stars
10/13/04 Desperado Possibly the worst ending of all time, why? is the only question that need to be asked 1 stars
10/06/04 Rob P S Sad and disturbing. 4 stars
10/05/04 Jenny Tullwartz Totally amateurish cinematography -- Its THE BLAIR SHARK PROJECT 2 stars
10/02/04 rebecca mills the film was ok but to much talking. 3 stars
9/30/04 Elizabeth Effective psychological suspense on a low budget. 3 stars
9/29/04 Ashley Annoyed by the Film! 1 stars
9/20/04 Zee crap 1 stars
9/16/04 MC Best actors were the sharks 1 stars
9/15/04 christina chin 5 stars
9/13/04 Jenny R Worst Movie I've Ever Seen 1 stars
9/12/04 Mark R id rather pluck my pubic hair then watch this again, STAY AWAY FROM THIS FILM 1 stars
9/05/04 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
9/03/04 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
9/02/04 JM a great film 5 stars
9/02/04 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
8/29/04 Rob Very plausable. Disturbs rather than entertains. I liked it. 4 stars
8/28/04 Ahnold Could've been better,but like already said, scary part is how easily could happen 3 stars
8/28/04 JM a great film 5 stars
8/27/04 Mike Next time I mention Open Water, hit me on the head, it would be less painful the movie ! 1 stars
8/26/04 Tom Cairns What kind of sharks,did you use 2 stars
8/26/04 janice sullivan waste of money 1 stars
8/26/04 Maureen McDevitt The scary part was how easily it could happen... 3 stars
8/25/04 Anthony G fucking boring, I was about to whip out my dick and start jacking off to entertain myself 1 stars
8/24/04 Pamela Marsen Ultimately disturbing & thought-provoking. Existential plot of man lost in the universe. 4 stars
8/24/04 Adam and Steve sucks 8======> 1 stars
8/23/04 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
8/22/04 ajay okay... 3 stars
8/22/04 wasted $4 on this movie, zzzzzzzzzz to mention this movie along with jaws is a insult. no action, no nothin BAD MOVIE 1 stars
8/21/04 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
8/20/04 juan rodriguez movie was very stupid,should've had more shark attack scenes,better than jaws / not! 1 stars
8/19/04 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
8/13/04 Pete One of the worst movies ever made-don't waste your money 1 stars
8/12/04 Janice Held my attention even though it was basically a two person cast. 4 stars
8/10/04 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
8/09/04 AL great move different stupid hollywood stories happy endings and effects 5 stars
8/09/04 Nikki THIS FILM SUCKED! 1 stars
8/09/04 dave finally a movie worse than' bio-dome' 1 stars
8/08/04 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
8/07/04 Mike what a rip!!! Worst fucking movie ever, soooo bored 1 stars
8/07/04 scott ward complete shit 1 stars
8/07/04 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
6/24/04 Ray Great 5 stars
5/29/04 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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