Halloween Horror Movie Month: Open Water (2004)

And we all thought that sharks were the ones to not be trusted when it came to going scuba-diving.

Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) need a holiday together. They aren’t really doing much with one another, can’t get frisky, and seem like two busy-bodies that just need to relax for a little awhile. That’s when they decide to go scuba-diving on a Sunday during their vacation, and are somehow left behind by the crew they came with. Pretty nice way to relax and love one another again if you ask me.

The idea of being lost in a huge sea, without anybody out there coming to get you is a pretty freaky thought as it is, but imagine if that was actually something that happened. Apparently, it has and that’s what this movie is based off of and as sucky as that whole situation may be, it doesn’t really generate a fun flick to watch. That is, unless your idea of fun is watching two, helpless human-beings stay stranded in the ocean, with the fear of being eaten alive by sharks clear in their mind, then you may have a ball for this movie and may want to also check yourself into a psychiatric facility as soon as possible. Hey, I’m just saying.

Probably the scariest element of this whole movie has to be the fact that it shows you these two people, lost at sea, all by themselves (except for the lurking sharks), and rarely ever cuts away from them. So, basically, the sense of danger and doom is just looming in the background and makes you pretty freaked-out once you start to feel like a shark’s going to come-up and bite one of these people’s legs off at any second. It’s as terrifying of an experience to watch, as much as it’s one that definitely provides a great deal of tension and that is exactly what we get here.

Writer/director Chris Kentis definitely allows this low-budget approach to take over the film and just give us a low-key look at something that’s not only terrifying, but could happen to anyone if they aren’t careful enough to watch. I mean, getting lost at sea by a bunch of divers you’re grouped up with seems highly unlikely (especially after a movie like this that high-lights that terrible happening), but there is still that shred of an idea that it could possibly happen and that’s what’s so freaky about this material. Kentis taps into that idea and lets his tension run wild, but not as wild as I was expecting, mainly because it comes around for only a couple of minutes throughout the whole film.

As for those other minutes that seem to make up the rest of the flick? Well, they are pretty much dedicated to two, a-holes that seem to fight, complain, bitch, and fight some more about the situation they’re in, without ever seeming to come together and show they’re love at all. I get that the film wanted to create this claustrophobic atmosphere by focusing on this couple and their dynamic throughout this whole, freak-situation but there still wasn’t much for me that felt like it was worth holding onto for them. They rarely ever shared an agreement on anything, they rarely ever showed any signs of affection or love, and they don’t even seem to get along with one another. So, pretty much, it’s almost like they’re together just because they can and that’s not what love’s all about in my book, especially when you’re lost at sea and you have no one else to be with.

It also adds insult to injury by the fact that the two people that play the characters (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis), aren’t very good at improvising, or spouting-out scripted-lines, either. Actually, I can’t be too harsh on them because they do at least try with a script that seems more concerned with the sharks than the actual humans themselves, but they don’t really add anything all that much either. There’s one scene in the beginning of the movie that shows that they are running through some problems as a couple, but that’s pretty much it. Then, they’re stuck in the water together, with sharks at their toes, and practically up each other’s asses about everything they’re doing right, and what they’re doing wrong. Hey, if you need couple counseling, just go out in the middle of the ocean and see if you can’t patch things up sooner or later. If one of you dies, then you definitely know that they weren’t the right one for you. That’s the message I got by the end of this movie and it’s probably not the one that Kentis had written-out for me in the first-place, but then again, what the hell was his message after all? Don’t get lost at sea? Sharks are bad? Professionals that you pay a lot of money can fuck up too? Don’t trust everybody who allows you to go diving into the sea? Hell, I putting too much thought into this movie, who the hell cares?!?

Consensus: Open Water definitely features some great moments of pure tension that are sure to have you freaked the hell out, but doesn’t have characters you care about or root for, and just seems more concerned with it’s sharks than the actual human-beings in the film itself. Then again, I can’t really say that I blame the film all for that. These two were freakin’ jack-asses.




  1. If you are after another shark film in a similar sort of vein to this, try the Australian film The Reef from last year. It uses real shark footage, and I found it really tense. It was in my top 10 films of last year, so I would definitely recommend you give it a try if you can find a copy.

  2. I saw this originally when it was released. The main scene I remember that freaked me out is you see their two heads bobbing above water, but then the camera goes slightly underwater and you see a lot of sharks.

    The other thing that made it interesting is–if I remember correctly–all the sharks are real. The went out into the ocean, put the actors in the water w/ shark suits underneath the wet suits, and thru chum in the water to bring out the fish.

    • That’s what I heard, but I don’t know how much of that is true considering the sharks would have freakin’ chewed them up in a second. That’s just what I would think though.

  3. Nice review man! I think this was made by the same people that made this year’s “Silent House”. I haven’t seen “Open Water” but now I know a good marriage counseling movie! 😉

  4. I liked this film a lot because it never really showed you much of anything. It kinda’ freaked me out. And it wasn’t all about the sharks, it was the isolation, getting stung by jellyfish, getting bit by a baraccuda, getting nibbled on by smaller fish, dehydrating even when surrounded by water, trying to stay afloat …mainly, man loosing his dominant position in the world so easily – in a place that is all around us…not in space, not in a alternate world – but in the sea. The Reef was good but this unnerved me even more. If the polar caps do melt, we will all die and not just because of sharks.

    • Damn, some good points here. It’s alright with what it tries to do, but as for the characters, I didn’t care much about them to really care about their situation.

  5. I enjoyed watching this one but thought it was kind of anticlimactic. I guess it delivered exactly what I expected but I was hoping for a bit more. Still, it was a much tenser film than I thought it would be considering there isn’t much to it.

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