|Who Will Save You?
Call me wacky, but the idea of being left alone out in the
middle of the ocean is a scenario that I've thought a good
bit about. I've often pondered what I'd do in certain life-and-death
situations, and being stranded in the ocean has always been
one of the most frightening ones I could think of. Why do
I contemplate such things? You see, when you have luck as
bad as mine, it's good to prepare yourself for these worst-case
scenarios because right now in Vegas, I'm sure those in-the-know
are layin' the lumber on me floating out in the Atlantic
come this time next summer.
The nightmare that I've only thought about becomes reality
for a vacationing couple on an island getaway in Open
Water. Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan)
lead hectic lives and desperately need a vacation. Their
vacation goes awry (sounds a lot like my vacations) while
open-water scuba diving. After frolicking with all the underwater
sea creatures, their fun abruptly ends when they surface
to find that their guide boat has left them. Why did it
leave? Is it coming back? Will they ever make it back to
the island? Daniel and Susan are cold, alone, miles from
land, and now adrift in shark-infested waters. Their only
support now is with each other.
Open Water is based loosely on the true events surrounding
the disappearance of Thomas and Eileen Lonergan, an American
couple who were left behind during a dive off of the Great
Barrier Reef in Northern Queensland, Australia in 1998.
The error was due to the Lonergans' dive details not being
entered into the boat's divemaster's log book and a possible
botched head count. Over 48 hours after the couple were
left behind, the crew of the Outer Edge realized their error
and a search was issued with 17 aircraft, helicopters, and
boats. The Lonergans were never found and many rumors of
their ultimate fate have surfaced since. Talks of marriage
trouble provided the theory that that they committed suicide,
or a murder-suicide took place. Another scenario has the
Lonergans using the dive boat as part of an elaborate hoax
to fake their deaths. Most diving experts, however, believe
that they died on the reef. A few weeks after they'd gone
missing, some of the couple's personal dive gear washed
up on a beach 75 miles from the dive site. Six months later,
a weathered dive slate - used to communicate underwater
- with contact information for Eileen's father and the words,
""[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who]
can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef
by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to
rescue us before we die. Help!!!"
While nobody will ever know what truly happened to the Lonergans,
Open Water takes a stab at one possible scenario.
This is not, however, meant to explain the story of the
Lonergans. It is simply a fictional tale based "loosely"
on their tragic story. The location is left intentionally
ambiguous and no characters are based on real people. Shot
completely on digital video, Open Water may be a
very new experience for many watching it on the big screen.
The audio is simply horrendous in parts, and much of it
looks like you're watching your in-law's boring vacation
video. Though, I think it's akin to watching a film with
subtitles. It's a bit distracting at first, but soon you
won't even notice it. For a film such as this, combined
with the real sharks, it has a much more "real"
feel to it. It's believable, and for the most part, I was
immersed in the story and their dilemma, and could ignore
the shaky cam and technical shortcomings.
Because of the way it was filmed and the fact that the budget
was similar, I've already heard Open Water being
compared to The Blair Witch project. Let's get it
straight now, Open Water bares no resemblance to
the waste of film that was The Blair Witch Project.
The characters in Open Water are much more real,
and the story is infinitely more believable. It succeeds,
where Blair Witch fails, by producing at least a
shred of genuine tension. I actually jumped a time or two
during Open Water whereas watching Blair Witch
is about the equivalent to popping a few valium.
It must also be said that this is not a shark movie, though
it's not surprising that many are buying tickets with that
in mind, seeing that Lions Gate has marketed it that way.
It will end up getting people into the theater, but ultimately
may backfire as audiences will feel like they were mislead.
The sharks are important to the story, but really, they
take a back seat to the third main character of the film,
the water itself. The ocean serves as the biggest antagonist
in the film. They're stuck in it, they can't drink it, it
houses innumerable dangers underneath (including sharks),
and they're completely at its mercy. They're going to go
where its currents want to take them.
If you think about it, Open Water really has some
deep (ha!) themes to its story. It reminds us of man's place
on Earth, and our place in the food chain. It reminds us
of how fragile we really are in relation the vastness and
power of nature. Or, it could just be that director Chris
Kentis, an avid diver himself, is manifesting, on film,
the worst possible scenario that he can think of when it
comes to scuba diving.
So if it's not The Blair Witch Project, and it's
not Jaws, what it is it? It definitely stands on
its own, but ultimately doesn't live up to the hype surrounding
it. It's a good film. Could it have been great? I think
so. Spending even 5 to 10 minutes more exploring the relationship
between Daniel and Susan would have done wonders to build
empathy towards their eventual plight. For starters, I didn't
even know whether they were married or not for most of the
movie. With such little character depth, I can understand
if some find their panicked bickering a little off-putting
and many may even be rooting for the sharks at the end.
And perhaps it was purposeful, but the dialogue was overly
simplistic. I kept expecting some really interesting conversations,
possibly some real introspection among the couple, but it
never came. There was a great opportunity to create some
powerful and emotional moments, but they were only mildly
So do they survive? Of course. A really hot mermaid swims
by and escorts them back to the island, and lucky for
Daniel, her only request for payment is in sexual favors.
No...wait, that's the way that I had always figured I'd
get out of the jam. Come on, you know I'd never spoil
I don't think everyone will like Open Water. In fact,
some people will hate it. Marketing it as a great shark
movie may ultimately annoy audiences after it's all said
and done. Whether LGF actually cares or not, who knows.
While not a great film, at least it's original and a little
different. It does give off a certain amount of uneasiness
and helplessness, which at times can have you on the edge
of your seat. And afterwards, maybe you won't feel so bad
having to go back to your crappy 9 to 5 job everyday. That
everyday tedium and our unsteady relationships are often
taken for granted, just keep telling yourself, "At
least I'm not stuck in the middle of the ocean surrounded
by sharks," and your day will go much better. Now let's
hope I don't slip on some bait and fall overboard next time
I go deep sea fishing!
|DEAD KEV'S ADVICE
|Don't expect Jaws. Don't even expect Deep
Blue Sea. If you can do that, and don't mind the
low-budget look and feel, than you'll probably enjoy
Open Water. Just bring your Dramamine.
|1. Never be late to meet up with your guideboat.
2. Don't stray from the other scuba divers.
3. Don't bleed around sharks.
|-"We have a story we're going to be telling for the rest of our lives."
-"We're stuck in the middle of the ocean! "
-"Oh God! Something's rubbing against my foot!"
-"I wanted to go skiing!"
|Chris Kentis (Grind)
|Chris Kentis (Grind)
|Laura Lau (Grind)
|Michael E. Williamson
|COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
|While the film's resort locale was left intentionally
ambiguous as to not hurt tourism at a "real"
location, the actual filming took place in the Bahamas.
Filming was done on weekends and holidays.
| No digital or special effects were used in the
film. Tame sharks and well-timed bait were used to
create the film's shark footage. The sharks, mostly
gray reef sharks with a few bull sharks averaging
seven to eleven feet in length, numbered between 45
|The movie cost $130,000 to make and was later bought
by Lions Gate for $2.5 million after its screening
|Actors Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis wore protective chain mail under their wetsuits, which would have prevented dismemberment but not bruising. Neither actor was bitten by a shark, though on the first day of shooting a barracuda bit Ryan.
|Official Posters - Teaser
A / Teaser
Industry Takes a Bite Out of the Movie 'Open Water'
Loss of Two Divers at Sea - Michael McFadyen
Water' based on RPCV Deaths - PeaceCorpsOnline
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