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Open Water

  • Film

Time Out says

A bald demonstration that it’s not always a small world, this deliberately drab DV B-movie won’t float everyone’s boat: it’s stark, bare-boned and artless-going-on-amateurish. It’s the same grubby aesthetic as ‘The Blair Witch Project’, but with a crucial conceptual difference: rather than fake up ‘reality’ for titillation, it spins out something of a true tale as an existential anti-thriller about human helplessness. The first thing to say, then, is that this isn’t a shark movie; the second is to avoid all reviews that give away the ending – with good will, the film fashions its own suspense.

In keeping with the prosaic visual style, Kenton casts white-bread unknowns Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis as the stressed-out professional couple who grab a last-minute tropical diving getaway, and on their first day out are left all at sea. (The divemaster fumbles his head-count while they’re still submerged.) The banalities of their earlier land interactions (or, at night, their lack of them) assume a whole new insignificance when faced with the ocean’s implacable expanse – a couple of distant ships around the horizon offer the illusion of bearings, but the invisible tide scuppers any effort they make to control their fate – but ironically those trivialities are all they’re left with. There’s a deathly funny sequence when they erupt into domestic-dispute routine – whose idea was this anyway? Why did he have to go chasing that damned eel? – and he tries to assuage her stomach cramps with knowledge gleaned from the Discovery channel.

But they’re besieged by jellyfish, nibbling cleaner fish, and wary but opportunistic sharks circling beneath their feet; and slowly the sun sets. How long before someone on land realises their absence? And how will they spot a couple of drops in the ocean? Kenton’s home-movie minimalism seems entirely appropriate to the abysmal circumstances; it’s a draining, galling experience.
Written by NB

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Thursday 9 September 2004
  • Duration:79 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Chris Kentis
  • Cast:
    • Blanchard Ryan
    • Daniel Travis
    • Saul Stein
    • Estelle Lau
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