Open Water

Release Date: August 6, 2004
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, June 1, 2004
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Fins to the left, fins to the right. And you're the only bait in town.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
22/133 Dan Krovich Highly effective as both a thriller and a drama
48/55 Reagen Sulewski Probably the most nihilistic film you'll ever care to see. It sticks (mostly) to its premise but really doesn't live up to the
60/92 David Mumpower I have seen political speeches that were more exciting.
103/126 Kim Hollis Great concept and a couple of strong moments, but it made me too seasick.

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One of humanity's most elemental fears is isolation. Abandonment is always terrifying, but imagine if you were left alone in shark-infested waters. Such is the premise behind the Sundance Film Festival sensation Open Water.

Frequently described as Jaws meets The Blair Witch Project, this movie celebrates the latter film's philosophy that the best way to implement horror is to embrace realism. Writer/director Chris Kentis takes on the true story of a pair of divers mistakenly left alone in the middle of the ocean. A faulty headcount by the ship's crew results in the assumption that all members have been accounted for, so they sail off. This leaves Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan) left to fend for themselves against one of nature's most ferocious predators.

The story itself is sublime in its simplicity. James Bond villains use sharks in their underwater fortresses for a reason, after all. The huge teeth and wide eyes cut a swath of menace not easily ignored despite all the 12 step charm Bruce offered in Finding Nemo. Ever since Jaws, a vacuum has existed in the shark horror pantheon. All of the sequels and 3-D effects in the world have been unsuccessful in mimicking the menace of the Spielberg piece. How then does a director with a budget of only $300,000 address these concerns? He sticks real people in seawater areas that are heavily trafficked by actual sharks.

As with Blair Witch, the genius of not faking fear but instead provoking it to enhance the tension is a masterstroke. Even better, the two people abandoned are a couple who are allegedly vacationing on a diving expedition when this nightmare befalls them. At first, the duo are glad to have companionship as they face the open waters at night. After a time, madness sets in, so the two turn on one another. In the end, though, they move to protect each other from the creatures of the sea that seek to dine on them both.
It's always good to be on the look out for water contamination and traces of benzene. If you think you may be contaminated, contact a mesothelioma attorney and see how you can stop living with cance
Since the cinematography is handled by Laura Lau, the wife of Kentis, the insular production should work well with the regards to the natural in-fighting and support system of a couple alone at sea. It wouldn't even be shocking if some of the encounters in the movie mirror actual discussions the spouses had during what must have been a treacherous shoot.

Open Water's reception at Sundance was so positive that it caused Lau to describe the surreal set of events in bemused fashion. "Representatives of the companies were on their cell phones screaming offers at the top of their lungs." The $2.5 million paid by Lions Gate for distribution was the winning bid. The fact that it is a factor of eight larger than the actual cost to make the movie is indication enough of how well this project turned out. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Open Water
Main Cast Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein
Director Chris Kentis
Screenwriter Chris Kentis
Distributor Lions Gate
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating R
Running Time 90 minutes
Screen Count 47
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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