starring Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein and Estelle Lau
written, directed and edited by Chris Kentis
This is a story about two people on an exotic South Pacific vacation who go scuba diving on an ocean reef and then accidentally get left behind, alone in the ocean, by the diving tour operator. The water is infested with sharks. They spend a whole day and night drifting in the open ocean, suffering shock, exposure, hypothermia, dehydration, panic, and finally digestion. It’s one of those dream-holidays-gone-bad scenarios, similar to but completely different from the Harrison Ford, Anne Heche movie Six Days, Seven Nights(a film that I love). The film starts by telling us that the story is based on true events, but then ends with a disclaimer saying that all people, events, and even the animals are fictitious. I suppose that being accidentally abandoned like that has actually happened to people - and some may even have died at sea thus, never to be seen or heard from again - and that is what is meant by telling us that the story is based on real events.
This is a small scale, independent film, made almost entirely by Chris Kentis and his friends. Who is Chris Kentis? Maybe he operates scuba/fishing/glass bottom boat tours in Hawaii, or Guam or Saipan. I don’t know. I checked him out and learned that he is a Hollywoodfilm maker and experienced diver, born in 1963, no photos available. That’s all. His filmography dates from about 1997.
It is marvelously shot, I think. It looks more like a home video than a film, which is a deliberate effect. The movie bobs around as if it was being made with a hand-held video camera - a home movie. The bobbing around is rather disorienting, which is the desired effect, since much of the film takes place with the couple simply floating in the current and waves of the sea. This home-made video effect reminded me of Blair Witch Project, another independent film that made it big. I read reports that the moving about of that movie’s frames caused nausea in the theaters. The color tones are superb. The sky blue water; the bright sunlight shining off the white sand beaches; the tropical fish; the sounds of a tropic paradise; like Six Days, Seven Nights one can almost imagine they can smell the salty air and the fruity aroma of a tropical resort. I was also reminded of a Jacques Cousteau documentary.
Released in 2004, Open Water is classified as Horror/Suspense, but I didn’t feel either. All-in-all I was disappointed that it wasn’t scarier, like Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.