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Open Water
Now available on DVD
Review by Mr. Stinkhead

The thriller Open Water was a completely independant picture, written, directed, filmed and funded by a married couple. Chris Kentis wrote the screenplay and figured out the budget he and producer Laura Lau would need to purchase digital cameras and location shots. There's not a single digital effect or tank shot in the picture, shot entirely on location in the Bahamas. This film has a documentary/home movie feel that amplifies the terror.

The characters Daniel and Susan go diving with a group tour on their tropical vacation. A botched head count has the boat leave with out them, stranding the pair miles away from any island in the middle of open ocean. Anger and abandonment set in right before the sharks arrive.

The sharks are all real. Noted Hollywood shark wrangler Stuart Cove would toss bloody fish meat in specific areas around the bobbing actors to get the sharks to swim in front of the camera in choreographed shots. Not one puppet, trained shark, or digitally added predator was used.

So that's how it was made, how is it viewed? The film quickly gets the couple down to the Bahamas and on a boat. We get little background on their outside lives, only that they're completely hectic, and time between the couple is precious. Not long after being in the water, are they stranded... not long after they stranded do they have company. For "boat" people, the concept of being alone in open water can be harrowing. No boats, no islands, no rescuers were in sight. The close proximity of the sharks and the camera itself let feelings of claustrophobia and desolation wrestle together. One minute you feel all alone, the next, you feel there is not enough space between you and the sharks.

We were impressed with the camera work, and the storytelling, except that the ending was a little limp. The strong climactic moments are between the second and third act, and I was expecting more of a "Hollywood" polished ending. I wasn't expecting a last-minute helicopter swooping our victims up at the last minute, but I wished for a better resolution to the story between the couple. Overall, the thrill was great and I am not going in the water anytime soon. Though there was little gore, it felt real. There was also a touch of nudity, that definately felt real.

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Review ©2005

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