Open Water (2003)
Starring: Don’t worry about it.
Directed by: If you must know it was Chris Kentis (Silent House)
Synopsis: A boring vacationing couple is left stranded in the middle of the sea after their scuba diving boat makes an incorrect head count.
What works: Nothing. Absolutely nothing about this movie is any good to talk about. I heard about this shark attack flick when it came out and as a shark enthusiast I’ve always meant to check it out. Seems all these years I’ve been doing the right thing avoiding it since it was a complete waste of my time.
The only positive thing I can give Open Water credit for (other than the unexplained full frontal female nudity) is that they actually filmed with real-life Caribbean Reef Sharks. The crew attracted them (and occupied them) with tuna steaks while they swam around the couple in the water. But we never see the sharks up close nor do we see them even get close to the couple so it’s mostly a wasted effort.
The sad fact is, that this movie isn’t bad enough to be So-Bad-Its-Good. It has some decent cringe-worthy, bad acting or lame effects moments that juuuust skim the surface (pun intended) of SBIG but just bob and wallow in mediocrity.
I could also note that at times, few and far between though, that the film did make an impression on my senses because I just thinking and fantasizing what I would do in that situation. Because of the realistic nature of the location and scenario, it’s hard not to realize just how much danger the couple are put in. Also the anger, frustration and loss of hope that they mentally go through. Sometimes I sat there with a glimmer of hope that something extraordinary in a horror movie could happen but sadly I was left high and dry.
What fails: Like I said, this movie was close to being SBIG but was too boring and mediocre to achieve any entertaining value to it. There was acting on display that was borderline Birdemic bad but it was mostly Blair Witch Project bad—which if you remember, wasn’t awful but very amateurish. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to compare this film with Blair Witch because the concept and execution of the idea is great but everything else is sub-par. This film tries so hard to create tension with this couple stranded in open water for over 24 hours fending off hunger, thirst, fatigue, boredom as well as animal attacks but fails in every turn. At a critical moment in the film when the sharks get really hungry during a thunder storm at dusk it should’ve been the best scene but it falls so flat because A. it’s pitch black save for the lightning bursts and all we hear is them screaming and B. it cuts away after only a few seconds of this happening. I understand you’re trying to make a realistic shark attack movie with real life sharks with your human actors but if you can’t effectively show the carnage then don’t use real life sharks.
And this is all after the 20 minutes or so of seeing this couple chat about their boring jobs, their dead-end relationship and watching them shop and dine in town. There’s one scene of them attempting to “get in the mood” and I don’t know why it’s there. He wants to boink and tries to seduce her and she’s not in the mood. This plays out for no reason in the rest of the film. The next scene shows the man attempting to swat a mosquito that’s terrorizing them while they sleep. Again, why is this scene in there? Was it a metaphor for him not being able to do anything worthy or lack of accomplishment? I really don’t know. At one point of them being stranded in the ocean, they get so agitated and nutty from being in their desperate situation that they turn on each other and fight over who’s fault it is and who put them in this predicament. That scene could’ve worked but at that point I just wanted to watch them become chum-bait and couldn’t care about them any less.
Overall: If Jaws made you scared to ever go in the ocean again, then Open Water will certainly scare you from going scuba diving, only because this movie was based on real-life couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan who, also by a miscount from the boat, were left stranded in open water and were never found again. But if you’re looking for a very tense and hair-raising flick about a couple in a most desperate life or death situation then please don’t bother with this one.
Score: 2 “Shakes of my Head Realizing Now That There Was a Sequel” (out of 10)