Movie review: Open Water

I have a lot of unwatched movies on my shelf. It’s time to go through and rectify that dilemma. I started tonight with Open Water.

Now, before you roll your eyes and groan too much, you should know that I only spent $4 on this movie. It came off the very, very back of the used shelf at MovieStop and I already knew how bad it was going to be. Other people who had paid far more to see the film had already told me everything there is to know about it, so I never had any delusions as to it actually being a good film. And of course, in my defense, it sat on my shelf for a very long time before I decided to watch it. The reason I bought it was morbid curiosity.

The plot is this: two SCUBA divers get left behind by their tour boat, tread water for an hour, and eventually get eaten by sharks. Yes, someone made this movie.

Now, as far as movies about people treading water go, I have to say it was excellent. This is absolutely the best water-treading movie I’ve ever seen. But as far as movies about people getting eaten by sharks… I gotta say I’m disappointed. No thrashing about here, no gory chunks flying about. The dude gets bitten offscreen and swears about it for like five minutes, then later we see a shot of the chick from about two hundred feet off quickly being pulled under. I’m just saying, if the plot synopsis for your movie includes exactly two exciting events surrounded by 80 minutes of people treading water, you’ve got to show us something. Something.

I watched this movie with Girlfriend, who has been SCUBA diving a few times, so I had to listen to her complain about everything the characters were doing wrong. This soured me on the early non-water-treading parts of the movie, I admit. Fortunately she didn’t have any critiques of the water treading sequences, so I was able to enjoy them in peace.

So okay, we have these two people in the water. They fight, they get scared, they talk about how hungry they are, they pee and throw up, and well, they do pretty much everything you could possibly have characters floating on the surface of the ocean do. Once the writers couldn’t think of anything else that might happen to these people he decided to make a shark bite one of them for no reason. Twenty minutes later they both get eaten.

The second half of the movie has a few scenes that cut back to the island paradise the couple is supposed to be enjoying. In one of these scenes the incompetent boat captain that left them stranded in the first place realizes his goof and mobilizes a search party. I don’t understand why this scene is in the movie. The people never get rescued, they have no idea help is on the way, and even if they did it’s not like they could do anything to hold out against a pack of sharks. I suppose it’s possible the filmmakers wanted you to know how close these poor people came to salvation, but honestly, the shots of the unspeakably vast ocean from one of the rescue choppers makes it seem very unlikely they would ever be found at all.

The other weird island paradise cutaway just shows a beach party. Perhaps the meaning was “this is what our heroes could have been doing right now!” but again, I don’t see the point. There was no one who knew the couple at the party. No talk of the party before or after. Absolutely no relevence whatsoever to the plot. They might as well have cut to 90 seconds of footage from a documentary on Franciscan monks.

I get the feeling that the movie was trying to play on the viewer’s empathy, but I never felt that sense of dread the film was going for. Maybe that’s because the actors were terrible. Or maybe it’s because the characters lacked any redeeming qualities. She’s a workaholic who never wants sex! He’s a boring bland nobody! Watch them float around, and then get eaten off camera! How horrible! It just didn’t work for me. In this one scene, and the other five or six scenes exactly like it, the couple are very calmly waving their arms at passing ships. They don’t look particularly concerned or panicked. You can practically hear the director saying from just offscreen, “No, wavier. Okay, good. Now with both arms. No, like this. Like you’re a runway model, only don’t smile.”

IMDB reveals a few interesting pieces of information. First, this film had a budget of under $200,000, which is roughly what a major Hollywood film spends on catering. I’m willing to cut a low-budget movie a lot of slack, but this movie was just two bad actors floating for a couple hours, so no dice there. Second, there is a sequel. A sequel. In the sequel, rather than have some people step off a boat and then get abandoned, they step off a boat without first lowering their ladder into the water. You therefore have a scene where a bunch of retards try to climb up the side of a yacht in addition to lots and lots of treading water.

Third, one of the Open Water forum threads has a guy congratulating the main actress on her “lady garden”, and then another guy giving the first guy a round of applause. I have to agree with those guys; that was my favorite part of the movie, too.

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