Projections - Movie Reviews

Open Water
Open Water
Starring Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein, Estelle Lau

Low-budget suspenser Open Water is being called Jaws crossed with The Blair Witch Project. There may not be enough nuance to Chris Kentis’ film, but he has the knack to put the viewer in the dire situation of his two lead characters played by Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan.

Ryan is Susan and Travis is Daniel out on a holiday in the Caribbean. At the outset it’s clear that life is a little hectic for them and their marriage is in a down cycle. Kentis lets the viewer in like a voyeur to their unstimulating relationship.

They both have a thing for scuba diving, so they go out one morning. Once divers return to their boat there’s a miscount by the crew which seems a little odd. Daniel and Susan are stranded in the open water as a shark lurks in their mist.

The film is based on true events with the actors in the water during filming for over 120 hours. No special f/x were used and Kentis ratchets up the unnerving tone by working up fear of the unknown. Much of Open Water just shows the heads of Travis and Ryan at the surface and often just the fin of a shark, along with jellyfish.

The use of digital video maybe makes the production feel too cheap, wobbling at times like Blair Witch did. But through Travis and Ryan, Kentis brings a natural intimacy to it all, from the editing and direction which is smooth and taut. The plot does drift when the couple languors on their precarious situation, but the neuroses are offset by the horrors of knowing that they are vulnerable prey. There’s the constant hope that the boat crew will return to the spot where Susan and Daniel were left.

If Open Water isn’t always gripping and buoyant, it sends some decent emotional chills up the spine, especially after one driver suffers a leg bite. Scenes with buoys and boats aren’t staged convincingly, but the theater can feel like a panic room as the tension heightens once night falls.

Open Water

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