A/V Room









Open Water (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by cast, director and producer; Interviews with cast and crew; Behind the scenes making of documentary; 'On the High Seas' documentary; Deleted scenes; Shark and diving safety facts.

EVER since Roy Scheider uttered the immortal line, ‘I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat’, in Jaws, cinema-goers have enjoyed something of an affinity with sharks.

Steven Spielberg’s epic movie offered plenty for film fans to chew over, from its opening sequence, involving that fateful late-night swim, to Robert Shaw’s spell-binding tale of the fate of the crew of the USS Indianapolis.

During that memorable monologue (which was supposedly ad-libbed), audiences got some sense of what it might feel like to be in shark-infested waters. New movie, Open Water, goes one step further, and actually puts you there.

Supposedly based on true events, the film stars Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis, as a couple of scuba-divers who are accidentally left behind by their tour operator, while on holiday in the Caribbean.

Their subsequent plight is exacerbated by the knowledge that the waters are, indeed, shark-infested and as the dorsal fins begin to appear on the horizon, their sense of fear quickly turns to downright terror, as they begin to realise the chances of being rescued are very slim.

Open Water has been described, in some quarters, as a cross between The Blair Witch Project and Jaws - a sort of Blair Fish, if you will - although that would be over-simplifying it.

The fact that it was shot mostly using hand-held cameras does provoke comparisons with Blair Witch, but it also helps to lend the film an almost documentary-type feel, as though viewers could just as easily have stumbled upon a home video of the bickering couple involved.

It heightens the sense of realism surrounding the film, as does the knowledge that the director, Chris Kentis, opted to use real sharks.

Hence, when the first dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water, viewers will feel their pulse quickening, along with a shiver running down their spine.

Likewise, when the first shark brushes past one of the two divers, viewers are just as likely to flinch, such is the closeness they will probably be feeling with the protagonists.

It is a measure of the film’s success that such a simple scenario can hold its audience hooked for the duration of its running time, continually piling on the tension, and the ‘what if’ scenarios, all the way to its gripping (dare I say, terrifying) conclusion.

Yet, thanks to the very real performances from both Ryan and Travis, Open Water also succeeds on a human level. Their sense of growing hopelessness is expertly realised, as is the mounting sense of frustration and even anger they feel with each other.

One argument, in particular, rings effectively true, while viewers will probably enter a new dimension of terror when Ryan utters lines such as ‘I can’t stand not knowing what’s beneath me’, or ‘I can feel something weird against my leg’.

As with all the most effective horror movies, imagination is the movie’s greatest weapon, coupled with the knowledge that this is based on real events, and it is filmed in such a way as to allow imaginations to run riot, while also capturing a very immediate sense of the vastness of the ocean and the many unseen dangers it contains within.

Come the end of the movie, viewers will probably be leaving the cinema as water-soaked as the protagonists; the only difference being that the moisture covering your body is that of a cold sweat.

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