January 25, 2013
Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis
Open Water is the type of movie that I love to
write about. Because I know that just about everyone reading
this countdown has probably heard of it. In fact there are
many people out there who actually saw it. It came out in
2003, it (pardon the pun) made a big splash for a while, and
then for whatever reason it just sort of dropped off the face of the
And now, nearly ten years later, I get to write about it again.
And when people see the title they are inevitably going to
think, "Oh hey, I remember that!"
Open Water is the type of movie that I like to call a get inside your
head movie. Because it is scary, but it is a different type
of scary. It isn't the type of scary that you watch for 90
minutes, you scream maybe once or twice, and then you forget about it.
No, this is the type of movie that just sort of lodges itself
in your subconscious. You might not even think it is all that
scary when you watch it, but then maybe twenty years later you will be
out scuba diving or snorkeling in the ocean, and that is when you will
remember it. And that is when you realize how frightening it
was and how much it stuck with you.
For another good example of a get inside your head scary movie, try
something like Deliverance. Or Spoorloos. Or one of
my personal favorites, the Blair Witch Project.
The plot of Open Water is very simple.
A plain old ordinary American couple is on vacation in the Bahamas.
And one day they decide that they want to go scuba diving.
So they go out on a diving tour with 18 other people.
And, well, at some point during the dive the captain of the
boat miscounts how many people went down in the water. So
when 18 people come up, he loads them up on his boat and he takes off
back to shore. And meanwhile he forgot that two people are
still down in the water.
And that's it. Seriously, that is the entire plot of the
movie. 20 people go down, 18 people come up.
And poor Susan and Daniel are now stuck out all by themselves in the
middle of the ocean.
And that's when the scary stuff happens
If I could use one word to describe the rest of the movie once Susan
and Daniel are stuck in the water, it would be "uncomfortable."
Because man, this is one uncomfortable movie. It is
just you and these two people out helpless in the middle of nowhere.
For an hour. And the whole thing is
filmed digitally, with only ambient sound, and with no special
effects. And it is filmed completely at water
level. In other words, it is like you are more or less
watching a snuff film. You are just sitting there waiting for
these people to be eaten by sharks. You don't know when it is
going to happen. You don't know how it is going to happen.
You don't know if there is going to be a warning, or if it is just
going to happen all at once.
Basically you are sitting there waiting for the sharks to strike just
like the characters are.
Like I said, holy crap. This movie is just a whole different
type of scary. But mostly it is just very uncomfortable.
Just waiting for Mother Nature to take them out
Open Water isn't a movie for everyone. I know people who saw
it when it first came out and they HATED it. They went into
it expecting a movie like Jaws, and that isn't what this movie is
trying to do. It is nothing like Jaws. So people
who go into it expecting a straight out action/horror
movie are going to be disappointed.
If you want a SUSPENSE movie, well there really are few movies
as effective as this one. Because once they are in that
water, and once those sharks start circling, well at that point all
bets are off. Because like I said, you know it is coming.
You know exactly what it is coming. But you don't
know WHEN it is coming. And you don't know from WHERE it is
coming. And the way that the movie is filmed, the director
basically puts you right there in the water along with them.
You know that there is something living and circling around
You just can't, you know, actually see it.
What makes this movie especially freaky is that the
director used real sharks. There was no CGI, there
are no special effects. It is clearly real sharks circling
around under real actors. In fact in many ways it is like you
are watching a documentary. Hey, here is what happens in
nature when sharks hunt people.
Like I said before, if you want a movie that is flat out uncomfortable,
try watching Open Water. You will never forget it.
It is one of those movies that will just store itself in the
back of your brain. And then one day when you are swimming
around in the ocean you will suddenly remember it. And you
will wonder what that thing was that just bumped up against you.
I don't have much more to say about this movie because it is all pretty
self explanatory. It is just a two man movie crew (seriously,
this movie had a two man crew), two actors, a ton of sharks, and no
special effects. And no music. For the most part
all you hear in the movie are ambient sounds. Like water
sloshing. Or seagulls. Or shark fins splashing.
It is just creepy as hell and like I said before, it sort of
feels like you are watching a snuff film. It really does feel
like this is actual footage of people who got stuck in a nightmare and
at the end they will probably die. In fact I think in his
review of this movie Roger Ebert said that after he watched Open Water
he just wanted to go outside and stand out in the sun because the movie
got under his skin too much. He said that at a certain point
in the story it crossed the line between movie and reality and he
actually started to believe it.
He also said that very few movies have the ability to do that to him.
So anyway, there you go. Open Water. It is not a
movie for everyone, but for the people it affects, it REALLY affects.
If the Blair Witch Project creeped you out, if you have any
sort of phobia of deep water or sharks or being stranded at all, well
this movie will probably be a little too intense for you. I
just wanted to throw it onto my list because I think it is a kickass
little movie that does suspense really well. And I
think it is amazing that it was made by two people for only
about 130,000 dollars. Seriously, 130,000 dollars!
I know movies with a catering budget higher than that.
This is the kind of creative little project that they teach
in a film class.
They're coming to get you, Barbara
Oh yeah, one last thing. Like I said, this movie unfairly
gets compared to Jaws. If you go to the Internet Movie
Database, about 75% of the reviews there will be people who were
expecting it to be Jaws, and they are pissed that it wasn't.
So they get mad and they give it a low score.
Well let me say this. This movie is kinda
like Jaws, but only in one part.
You know that scene in Jaws where Quint talks about the USS
Indianapolis, and how it went down carrying the bomb? And how
hundreds of men were stuck in the ocean all night, just bobbing up and
down and waiting for the sharks to take them out? Remember
how horrible it was to hear about their fate?
Well just imagine that you took that USS Indianapolis accident, and you
filmed it in real time and you only showed it using ambient sound.
Imagine the reality of what it would be like to really be
right there in the water along with those men. Just
waiting to die. Imagine if you had to sit there and wait
right there along with them, and you got to experience every single
minute of it.
THAT is Open Water.
So yes, it is like Jaws. Kind of. It is
kind of like the creepiest part.
favorite IMDB user reviews about Open Water:
Can't stop thinking about
Open Water - 9 October 2006
hour ago i finished watching Open Water for the first time and i still
cannot stop thinking about it. What a powerful film. I walked away
feeling deeply saddened, though somewhat disturbed, yet altogether
moved. I am so so glad that Hollywood didn't get a hold of this story
and make a typical box office affair of it. The way the movie was shot
(on hand-held digital cameras) totally allowed the viewer to feel the
same level of desperation as the couple would have been feeling. I
truly felt their desperation, the sense of hopelessness was brilliantly
conveyed in the film. For once viewers were not given the storyline
straight up and were actively involved in unraveling the story the
entire film. More movies should leave me feeling effected like this one
has. That's what movies are meant to do, they just don't seem to
anymore! Congartulations Open Water - you did what so many big-budget
thriller/drama films fail to do - you actually got to the viewer.
Real and honest horror -
24 March 2006
movie scared me. I can't think of any other movie that has actually
scared me. There's something about being left in the middle of the
ocean, with who-knows-what underneath the waves.. while you eventually
come to the conclusion that you aren't going to be rescued. The
worst/best part about Open Water is that it's based on a true story.
may complain about Open Water being just "two people in the water for
an hour", but they are missing the point. The slow descent of the two
main characters into pure hysteria, and then utter despair, is really
horrific. The excellent use of weather, lighting, and actual marine
footage makes the experience seem all the more real.
some of the initial dialog may seem cheesy. And the end of the film may
seem abrupt. But if you really pay attention along the way and get in
to what's going on, you'll find this movie is really damn scary.
Awesome! A Sundance
festival hit that really delivers! - 22 July 2004
a scuba diver myself I was most eager and curious to see this movie and
would first like to say that it is hands down the most realistic and
accurate film about scuba diving I have ever seen. It's also a very
engaging and tense thriller. I am familiar with the true story I
believe this is based on, and can tell you, from what I have read about
the incident, this movie is extremely accurate. As a diver I can tell
you that when floating on the open ocean you are very much at the mercy
of the currents, and whatever else mother nature wishes to throw at
you, and sink or swim, there's virtually nothing you can do about it.
Every detail of this film is right on the nose, including the faulty
headcount that sets things in motion, believe me I have seen it happen!
Shooting on digital video, that has a rough look, was a stroke of
genius and adds greatly to the sense of immediacy and extreme realism.
This film would have been way less effective if done the usual glossy,
expensive Hollywood way. Same goes for using the two unknown actors,
who are excellent, and all those real sharks! It's like watching a
video diary of a nightmare vacation. I found it to be a very original,
gutsy, well crafted thriller. Believe the hype!
Finally, back to what
movies were meant to do! - 4 January 2005
really doesn't surprise me that some people don't like this film. After
all to truly enjoy Open Water one must open their mind and think. In
this day and age that hardly ever happens anymore. Most filmmakers just
decide to blow things up and hope that it's enough to entertain their
audiences. Society in general has become numb what with the plots just
laid out in front of us never questioning or asking us to use our
imaginations. Open Water is a film that asks its viewers to place
themselves at the heart of the movie; to feel the desperation, the
hopelessness and the absolute terrifying ordeal. And for a change the
movie is shot in a way that allows the viewer to feel as if truly
there. Is it Jaws? No and its not meant to be. Maybe that's where the
confusion lays. Open Water is a suspenseful film, excellent at that. If
you're someone who actually enjoys figuring out the movie for yourself
instead of being told in the first five minutes this is the film for
you. Score: A.
Excellent and terrifying
movie - 14 March 2006
found this film terrifying to watch. I've been in a similar situation,
except for the sharks. You can't imagine the feeling of being alone in
the ocean, far from land, not knowing if you'll make it back to shore.
I had drifted out a ways trying to reach a floating log in the Pacific.
My friends were hung over and passed out on the beach. It was early
morning. I finally reached the log not realizing the tide was going out
and I was being pulled further out to sea. Once I discovered what was
happening I jumped back in and started for shore, quite a ways to go.
It took calming down, floating a lot, and continued paddling to get
ashore. When I finally touched bottom, I crawled up to the beach and
collapsed. With the tension, fear of drowning and exertion of strokes,
it totally exhausted me. Also wondering what was underneath the
surface, not seeing it.
I thought this film brought that terror
out. It was filmed as though you were right next to the couple. The use
of the water level being right where your eyes would be, made it so
real. I wondered where the camera was and how did they get that level
of eyesight? Chris Kentis wrote and directed this with a keen eye and a
good sense of tension mounting. He also brought out excellent
performances from two newcomers, Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis. I
thought the were very convincing in their performances. I found at
times that I was no longer watching a movie - that they were really in
the danger that existed. I also think it was possibly beyond the call
of duty to put the actors through the paces of being in the water so
long. Not your usual demands of actors, unless it were a fish tank and
fake waves. But this was real and they were in the middle of the ocean.
off to all three involved - Kentis, Ryan and Travis. Chris Kentis also
did the camera work as well as editing the film. Good work, Chris. You
got me with this.
You people just don't get
it - 31 May 2008
Water was one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. Being a complete
dive bum, I have dived in open water with nobody but myself before. If
you can't relate to this, then don't write a review telling how awful
the movie is, because Open Water is exactly the opposite.
on a true story, Open Water is a terrifying (once again, for those of
us who can actually relate) experience, with the emotional horrors of
loneliness. People say that the movie is boring because there is no
other setting other than the ocean for an hour and a half, but you have
to truly love the ocean and it's beauty in order to find where the
heart of the film lies. Being alone in the water, with no one around
except Bull sharks (who by the way are rated as the number 1 most
deadly shark in the world, ahead of the Great White) is absolutely
horrific. It doesn't take much intelligence to hate this film, because
thoughts and experience with the ocean itself are necessities to
understand the films message.
I have also dived at night time as
well. As all professionals scuba and free divers know, this is a very,
very dangerous and unnecessary risk to take. If I learned anything
about night diving in the ocean, it is the sickening nervous feeling in
your stomach. You can't really see what's ahead, until you come almost
face to face with whatever lies ahead, such as a coral reef. Never have
I night dived again. Night diving, by far, is the most petrifying thing
I have ever done. This is probably the reason that I had to bite down
on my napkin during the night scene with the Tiger Shark. This indeed
brought back memories, and I began to really be scared not for myself,
but just for the characters. There are few things scarier than diving
at night. And no, I'm not talking about diving a few yards from shore.
I'm talking about a full on free dive, just as if it were in the
morning. Of course, the film was completely realistic, because it was
not a Bull shark in the night scene, it was a Tiger Shark. Tiger Shark
(my favorite shark by the way) is known for hunting at night.
Overall, Open Water is a completely
realistic (they used real Bull Sharks) insight to loneliness, fear, and
coming face to face with the ocean itself. I said it before and I'll
say it again: it takes experience to understand this film. I have an
abundance of experience, and take it from a dive bum himself: no other
movie tells the truth of fear like Open Water.
Awesome - 3 February 2008
thought this movie was great. If you need tons of CGI to entertain you
then maybe this is not the movie for you. I thought it was great
because it was real. The characters were real, the fear was real. What
could be more terrifying than coming up from a dive and finding out
that your boat has left you behind and there you are in the middle of
the ocean paddling around with no escape from the dangers all around
you? It gave me shudders and the ending was so disturbing because it
was so simple and unnerving. It does take a long time for stuff to
happen, but that is what is called character development, my friends.
It was so believable and yet unbelievable at the same time. The
relationship between the husband and wife was completely real and the
ending was so disturbing because as a viewer, you know what is
happening and the characters do not, all they know is that they are
treading water with 50 sharks underfoot. The story was beautifully told
and it makes me uncomfortable to think...That could happen to anyone...
My favorite trivia about
* This film is inspired by a true story about an American couple, Tom
Eileen Lonergan, who in 1998 went with a scuba group (Outer Edge Dive
Company) to an area off the coast of the Great Barrier Reef in
Australia. They were accidentally left behind due to a faulty head
count taken by the dive boat crew. There were 26 other divers and 5
crew members who failed to notice that the couple was not on the boat.
It was not until two days later on January 27, 1998, that the pair was
found to be missing after a bag containing their passports and
belongings was found in the dive boat. A massive air and sea search
took place over the following three days, but failed to find them. The
couple was never found.
* Filmed mostly on weekends and holidays over two and a half years.
* The entire movie cost less than half of the cost of a typical
Hollywood movie's sound effects budget.
CGI was used in this movie. Director Chris Kentis fed the sharks tuna
get real feeling of the main characters being in the ocean together
with the sharks. As long as they were eating the tuna they didn't harm
* The sharks used in this film were Caribbean Reef Sharks. The cast
wore chain mesh under their diving suits for protection and though none
of them was bitten by the sharks, Blanchard Ryan (Susan) was nipped by
a barracuda on the first day of filming. In the movie, after Susan is
bitten, her boyfriend says, "It was probably a barracuda seeing what
you taste like."
* Susan and Daniel's last names are revealed on their ID cards; hers is
Watkins, his Kintner. In Jaws, the skinny-dipping girl who serves as
the shark's first victim is named Chrissie Watkins, and the second
victim, the young boy who is killed on his inflatable raft, is named
at the IMDB
Back to 200
Movies That Deserve More Love