Open Water written and directed by Chris Kentis, produced by Laura Lau, with Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis. 80 minutes. A Plunge Pictures production. A Lions Gate release. Opens Friday (August 20). For venues and times, see Movies, page 76. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The worst thing you can do with Open Water is oversell it. I've actually seen it compared favourably to Jaws, and, I'm sorry, but it ain't Jaws. Jaws is one gigantic crystal-blue nightmare, made by the most kinetically inventive director in American film, then or now.
Open Water is an ultra-low-budget, digital video thriller whose actors probably got incredibly wrinkly spending their days immersed in the "set," which happened to be an actual ocean.
Inspired by the true story of a couple of vacationers who got left behind by their boat on a scuba diving trip, Open Water takes an annoying couple of workaholic yuppies and strands them in shark-infested waters. To be honest, there were times when I was rooting for the sharks to end the "whose fault is it?" arguments between Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis.
That said, writer-director Chris Kentis has constructed a striking small-scale chiller within the parameters of no budget, no set and no recognizable stars. (Ryan's biggest credit before Open Water was Super Troopers). Kentis's gift for mood and the unmoored camera gives us a genuine feel for the marooned characters' predicament. He puts us right in the water with them.
There are some plot holes. Once Travis's character gets a cut on his leg, the two of them should basically be dead within minutes. Sharks smell blood and should be on our characters in no time flat. But then the picture would be over in less than an hour.
Kentis is a striking new talent. Don't be put off by the Blair Witch comparisons. The cast didn't shoot this movie, and it's got a good, sleek look that's ironically less likely than Blair Witch to induce seasickness in an audience.
Now I'd like to see what he could do with a little more money.