Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) jet off for a stress-busting holiday in the Bahamas. However on a scuba diving excursion they’re left behind in the open water of the ocean. Naturally it’s not long before they are blaming each other for their predicament, whilst the audience are left to ponder just what sort of dreadful tour company these people booked their trip with. Please do they not provide safety equipment? No compass, no torch, no whistle?
The exposition is painfully progressed by ‘man with clipboard’, which includes numerous shots of him tallying up the number of passengers (wrongly) and of the two empty spaces on the boat. Still whether this piece of risible direction is more annoying or not than Susan and Daniel’s agonisingly slow realisation that they have indeed been left stranded is debatable. And that the film is presented in such a forced and unnatural fashion made me question whether director Chris Kentis was ever awake at film school.
Open Water is filmed on hand-held digital cameras and one might assume that this would give it an edgy, gritty feel and at times it does. But watching the first half-hour it’s so shoddy that you’ll feel as though you’re simply watching a home video of the couple’s, mundane, holiday.
Ryan and Travis are convincing throughout and this is Travis’ debut, but considering that the most demanding part of the film for them was pretending to be scared of, what were in fact real, sharks their performances can hardly be considered Oscar-worthy.
Kentis must have realised that Open Water had amazing potential to be a tension-filled thriller. Yet up until the point where the sharks finally arrive for dinner he wastes this excellent, if slight, premise. Even when a curious shark does take it’s first bite Kentis senselessly cuts away to an entirely unnecessary scene and completely destroys any tension and fear that he’d been building up. That he never really manages to sustain any real tension is a real shame, although the conclusion is shockingly good.
Nevertheless, for sixty minutes Open Water is all at sea.