Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Wife Is Right! Open Water Is One Of The Worst Films Ever!

The Good: Decent concept
The Bad: Utterly boring, No real character development, Dull, Mediocre (at best) acting.
The Basics: When two divers are stranded out at sea in a conceptual reworking of The Blair Witch Project, the viewer is more bored than either scared or intrigued.

Today, as we were about to go out to see The Change-Up (reviewed here!), I stopped at the local library to pick up DVDs for the rest of the weekend. While there, I thought about something my wife said while we were at the ocean last week. She expressed hesitation about going into the water (near Plymouth, Massachusetts) because she was worried about attacks from sharks or jellyfish. She was actually terrified and I asked where she had gotten the notion that that was a realistic problem. Her response was Open Water, so I figured today we could see what it was all about together.

I have to agree with my wife; Open Water is pretty bad. In fact, it is stiflingly boring and while she claims it was once a phenomenon, I see it as just a cheap reworking of The Blair Witch Project (reviewed here!). Like that movie, Open Water attempts to capture a "reality" with realistic lighting and camera movements and protagonists who are in a situation much more realistic than fantastic. And like The Blair Witch Project, which was essentially three people lost in the woods boring an audience, Open Water is pretty much two people boring viewers by treading water for an hour out of an eighty-one minute movie.

Susan and Daniel have a very cold marriage, but they decide to go on a getaway for some sun and surf. The pair goes to the Caribbean where they do not have sex and do not get much closer. But there they go on a diving trip and they surface to discover their boat has left without them. Drifting with the currents, they first try to remain where they were in order to wait for rescue. As the currents take them out, they yell at one another, try to comfort one another and try to keep each other warm. But the waters have jellyfish and sharks and when Susan is brushed, things look fairly grim. As the day goes on and no rescue seems apparent, the two prepare for their inevitable death.

Neither Daniel, nor Susan are particularly interesting, which pretty well kills Open Water. Director and writer Chris Kentis seems eager to replicate the success of The Blair Witch Project by asserting that the film is based upon a true story. For sure, there are people who have lost their life at sea when their diving boat has left them behind, but beyond that the realism of the situation is dubious. Given the resolution to the movie, there is no way most of the film could be accurate for a specific story.

That said, what kills Open Water is how boring it is. My wife, for the past two years, has done an impression of the movie that goes roughly like this: "I don't love you. I don't love you. Let's go away together. Okay. Let's not have sex. That's fine. Let's go diving. Where's the boat? I don't know! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, nothing's happening! Is that a shark? No. Is that a shark? No. Complain, complain, complain, OW! A jellyfish stung me! Is that a shark? No. How about now?" (and because I don't spoil endings, we'll quit there). But that's pretty much the end of the movie.

There is no character growth, there is no development. The characters throw tantrums and there is absolutely no sense of consequence to their actions. It is virtually impossible to care about what might happen to either of them because they are so passionless with each other from the outset of the movie. Lacking an emotional tether, Open Water is two people treading water and waiting to die.

Chris Kentis tries to lure the viewer into the reality of the situation with water on the camera and low camera angles that capture the viewpoint of Daniel and Susan. Unfortunately, these angles are in stark contrast to the animal footage that is clearly from SeaWorld type controlled environments. The result is a sloppy movie that sucks the viewer out of its own reality. More than being suspenseful, Open Water is frequently silly and that makes it not worth watching, no matter how bored one is.

For other horror films, please visit my reviews of:
The Silence Of The Lambs
Piranha 3D


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© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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