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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 David Cornelius

"Not up to the hype, but still quite the effective thriller."
3 stars

There’s an interesting effect in knowing in advance the premise of “Open Water.” That the plot has been heavily hyped makes it inescapable to be equally bored and thrilled by the movie’s opening half hour. As the lead characters work their way through their average vacation, we stir in our seats, wanting to shout at the screen, “Get on with it! Get to the ocean already!” But at the same time, knowing the fate of these people - and knowing that they don’t know themselves - makes us itchy; we also want to scream warnings: “Don’t go diving! Get back to the boat early! Make sure nobody screws up the head count!!” This strange combination of suspense and tedium runs through the entire movie, making it perhaps the most boring thriller you will ever see that will still manage to thrill you like crazy.

The premise, for those who have not followed the hype, is quite simple. A vacationing couple (played by Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis) goes scuba diving in the Caribbean, only to get left behind by their boat. They must spend the next 24 hours treading water, avoiding sharks, and wondering when and if any rescue will come.

And that’s about it, really. Writer/director Chris Kentis has the foresight to keep his movie short (with credits, it runs a mere 79 minutes); just when the movie begins to run out of steam, it’s smart enough to wrap itself up. The film exhausts every possible route the premise has to offer - the various emotions the divers feel, the various threats the ocean presents - and then it just decides to end, knowing the audience has had about as much as it’ll take of this idea. This results in a final scene that’s a tad awkward and too out of left field (and debatable, considering the “based on true events” header the film gives itself), although this finale is saved by a closing credits sequence that’s so eerie in its mater-of-factness that it becomes unshakable from memory. If “Open Water” is to be remembered years from now, it should be for what it shows during its closing credits.

Also impesssive about the film is how it fools us into thinking it will be just another low budget indie work. Shot on video, often with cheap, poorly produced audio, “Open Water” never sets us up for the remarkable cinematography on hand once the diving begins. The underwater photography is stunning, and the above-water footage - in which the actors actually are just floating along in the ocean with no land or boat in sight - will wow you with its how’d-they-do-that wonder. (And yup, those are real sharks we see circling the cast. Yowza.) From a technical angle, this is one giant step forward for low budget indies.

All of this technical gee-whizness helps make up for a story that’s too uneven. My favorite quote regarding the movie comes from film critic Criminy Pete, who offered, “There’s a little 'just EAT 'EM already' feeling that comes in at the end.” That’s certainly true. While some scenes definitely put us on edge (the jellyfish sequence made me jump the most, and later moments managed to unsettle me fairly well), there is a tedium that sets in - just how long are these two people going to float there?

What helps provide some much needed suspense once the premise starts to get old hat is the decision on Kentis’ behalf to hold off revealing if anyone is looking for the main characters. The longer Kentis draws this out, the more anxious we become. Is help on the way, or has everyone forgotten them for good? That we do not know until the final act makes for uneasy viewing.

There are some viewers that may be quite bored by “Open Water.” It is, after all, rather repetitive, and the characters aren’t that likable to get us as interested in their fate as we could be. But the situation alone makes for some unavoidable self-questioning (it’s impossible to watch this without wondering, “what would I do?”). And the suspense does manage to carry throughout the entire running time. Kentis (who also edited and photographed the film) has crafted a flawed but ultimately quite effective thriller, a nifty little exercise in getting a lot out of not much. And besides, any movie that has its characters realizing that their survival depending on what they could remember from Shark Week has to be worth a look.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8548&reviewer=392
originally posted: 12/28/04 13:22:21
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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
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
10/23/04 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
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  06-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2004



Directed by
  Chris Kentis

Written by
  Chris Kentis

  Blanchard Ryan
  Daniel Travis
  Saul Stein
  Estelle Lau

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