Pros: Realistic acting; You feel like you're right there
Cons: Directing style will not be to everyone's liking; No big name stars
What would you do if you went on a scuba diving trip while on vacation and were left behind in the open sea? Would you be able to remain calm, cool, and collected? Would you be overcome by panic? How would you respond if an unwelcome sea predator paid you a visit?
For many, this situation would be a living nightmare. And yet this actually happened to a couple that was vacationing in Australia. Their experience is the basis for this movie, Open Water, a suspenseful film about survival in the vastness of the ocean.
Director: Chris Kentis
Screenplay: Chris Kentis
Theatrical Release Date: August 6, 2004
Movie Length: 82 Minutes
Cast: Daniel Travis, Blanchard Ryan, Estelle Lau, Saul Stein, Cristina Zenarro, Michael Williamson, John Charles.
Contents of This Movie:
Daniel and Susan (played by Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan) are a young, vivacious couple who decide to take a vacation together to a warm, tropical resort. Their choice of destinations seems like a fun yet peaceful place to spend a week and relax.
While on vacation, the couple makes the decision to take advantage of one of the many activities offered: scuba diving at a reef a few miles out into the ocean. They pack their belongings and join about twenty other adventurous folks on a medium- sized tour boat and journey out to sea. Each person attaches his/her scuba gear and, one by one, they drop themselves into the ocean waters to enjoy the underwater view.
When the trip is over, each person climbs back on boat the boat to begin the return trip to the resort area. The crew person in charge makes sure to count each diver as he/she returns to the boat. He composes a tally on a piece of paper and he is certain that everyone is back on board. But he accidentally miscounted, and there are really two left behind: Daniel and Susan. They rise from the depths of the water and look frantically for the boat but it is nowhere to be found. They spend the next day drifting across the surface of the ocean, not knowing where they are or whether they will ever get back to dry land in one piece.
The following day, the crew realizes that two people were left behind. They realize who they were and after checking with the resort where they couple was staying for the week, their fear is confirmed: they really did leave the two divers behind in the ocean. Several search crews are sent looking for the lost couple, both by boat and by air. Will they find them in time, or will the lost couple end up in the bellies of hungry sea predators? You dont really know until the end.
Open Water is an unusual movie filmed and directed in a very different way from most motion pictures. This film is loosely based on an actual incident that occurred in 1998 when Tom and Eileen Lonergan were left behind after going on a diving expedition near Australias Great Barrier Reef.
Chris Kentis is the brainchild behind Open Water and his creation is not like anything else you see at a typical afternoon matinee. First of all, Kentis shot this movie using hand- held digital cameras and he finished the entire project with a budget of only $130,000. The movie has no big- name stars, including those in the starring roles. There is no soundtrack of catchy pop tunes and very few sound effects. Its a film made with ordinary people acting in an ordinary way.
Speaking of the acting, this is the one area where Open Water is most unique. With this type of a premise, most actors and actresses in a major Hollywood movie would be acting in all sorts of outrageous ways. Depending on who was behind the camera, the people on the screen might be acting exhilarated; humorous; remorseful; lugubrious; and all sorts of other ways. It would all depend on who was directing and how he wanted the performers to act in this type of movie.
But its different in Open Water. The performances here are very real. They do not seem staged at all, and that includes the other divers, the crew of the boat, and everyone else who takes part in this movie. When I was watching this movie, I was surprised by how normal everyone was acting. From the scenes in the resort to the final scenes at the end when the couple is bobbing up and down in the water while rescue teams are sent to find them, the performers act very much like you would expect ordinary people to act in this situation. Its almost like watching footage taken from a hidden camera. The people say and do exactly what you would expect in this scenario. There is no real indication that anyone is acting.
Most of this movies 82 minutes are dedicated to the couple, Daniel and Susan, and their time spent at the surface of the ocean. They run the entire gauntlet of emotions, like anyone would do. They start out a little surprised when they discover the boat is gone. But they remain relatively calm; confident that the boat will return because the crew will certainly realize that two people are missing. But as more and more time passes and various sea creatures begin to take a liking to the taste of human flesh, the emotions change rapidly. One minute, the couple is clutching each other and sharing their emotional warmth. The next minute, they are pointing fingers at each other, yelling and cursing about the incompetence of the crew and who is to blame for taking the scuba diving trip in the first place.
The extra footage contained on the DVD includes the theatrical trailer, deleted scenes, the Indie Essentials (a filmmakers guide to gearing up for a remarkable movie), Calm before the Storm (the making of Open Water), and some bonus on- location footage from Chris Kentis, the films director. Kentis and others talk about how the film was made and how excited they were to enter it in the Sundance Film Festival. They talk about some of the specifics of the film and the challenges encountered when making this type of movie on a shoestring budget.
This movie got an R rating because of one nude scene near the beginning and because of the harsh language. As you might imagine, the couple is cursing at many points while trapped out in the open water. They are mad at the travel crew for leaving them behind and their stress level rises and falls with the tide. They have every reason to be upset, and their words reflect these strong feelings.
Overall, Open Water is a pretty good piece of low budget filmmaking. The lack of any real acting, however, is bound to cause mixed reactions in different viewers. Some will like it because the people seem more realistic. Others will not like it because it deviates too much from the normal Hollywood formula for making movies and it doesnt have enough quick action, loud noises, catchy soundtrack, or other attention- getting features and additions that most suspense films contain. This movie is suspenseful and frightening, but in a quiet way. There are no sudden sound effects to get your emotions going. There are just a few quiet sounds in the background, leaving the viewer wondering what will happen next.
Being stuck in the middle of a vast open sea with nothing but the scuba gear on your back and water for as far as your eyes can see would be an incredibly scary experience for most individuals. This situation would lead to panic and peril for most people, even those with experience in diving. Open Water brings this fear to the big screen, with a directing style that is very non- conventional but also very compelling in certain ways. Its a suspenseful film that could make you think twice before you plan that next scuba diving adventure.