Open Water

By Mark Ramsey | 2004/08/08

Bad news: Roy Scheider didn’t get the job done.

Why focus on Open Water when Tom Cruise is in the theaters? Because Tom is not being threatened by sharks, just by gray hair. In fact, Tom has made it clear: He does not prefer sharks, he has never been with a shark. Nope, he’s all into ladies or women or whatever.

Get ready for the only review of Open Water that doesn’t mention The Blair Witch Project.


Two unknown actors experience bad luck. Strangely, most unknown actors experience bad luck, and it has never bothered me before. In fact, if all unlucky actors turned their misfortune into movies Stephen and Billy Baldwin would have their own video store aisle.


Open Water features Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis, one of whom is a guy.

Both are overworked, self-involved, and annoying Yuppies: “Susan” and “Daniel,” not Sue and Dan. When bad things happen and they start pointing soggy fingers of blame at each other, it’s up to the denizens of the deep to put them out of our misery.

Open Water is based on true events, except for the cleavage which falls under the category of artistic license. This film is getting lots of attention not just because the sharks are real but because Blanchard Ryan’s nude scene proves everything else is, too.

“We made this movie on a shoestring,” said producer Laura Lau. “It was filmed entirely on location in my friend Manny’s pool in Chino. That’s why the sharks swim with water noodles and our heroes cling for safety to a diving board.”

But why choose the Inland Empire as a shooting location? “It’s mysterious,” says Lau. “In Hollywood they think if you drive too far out the 10, you’ll encounter either Riverside or Shanghai but not necessarily in that order.”

openwater_shark.jpgOpen Water is shot on digital video, blown up to theater proportions. That makes this the longest home video I’ve ever seen that didn’t include somebody waving at Disney World. Are those sharks following our heroes or digital artifacts?

Open Water was directed, written, and edited by Chris Kentis, whose wedding video can be seen between a few of the sloppier cuts. It’s less a “feel-good” movie and more a “feel something rubbing against my leg” movie.

Blanchard and Daniel are on their way to a dive when the boat guy tells everyone “you don’t really have to worry about sharks.” It’s that word “really” that signals it’s time for a beach chair and a Heineken.

Look, if man was meant to exist in the ocean God would have put us on the menu at Red Lobster.

But dive, they do.

Later, up pop Blanchard and Daniel who discover to their dismay…their boat is gone! And not only is there no boat but there’s no Starbucks or broadband access as far as the eye can see! Worse still, they forgot to turn on the nanny-cam and, indeed, forgot to have children!

Together, they go through all five stages of grief:

1. Denial: “We’re not lost, my cell phone is GPS-capable”

2. Anger: “I can’t die out here – I have a massage scheduled for 4:30!”

3. Bargaining: “If only we could pay these sharks to go away, like the Negro bellboy at the hotel”

4. Depression: “How am I supposed to pledge my membership to Public Television from here?”

5. Acceptance: “We may die, but the Zagat Survey will live on”

How is it, exactly, that two amateur divers of twenty get left behind as the boat peels away?

Because the boat guy counts hash-marks instead of heads!

Just count the heads, you idiot!

“Let’s see, eighteen heads and twenty hash-marks…Well, hash-marks don’t lie! Let’s roll!” Evidently tour boats are now manned by former Florida election officials. Shouldn’t these guys keep track of their customers at least as well as Blockbuster keeps track of The Adventures of Pluto Nash?

Props to the team behind Open Water. It’s rare that a small Indie is interesting enough to provoke my ridiculous rants. The last one was probably The Blair Witch Project.


If it’s thrills on a toll-booth sized budget you want, look no further. But don’t expect a Hollywood-sized payoff.

In the ocean, primal fear costs.

Photos Copyright ©2004 Lions Gate Films


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