If Van Helsing plays like a Stephen King novel, Open Water plays like a Jack London short story: The Call of the Wild, only with sharks. The sky and the ocean become characters. Their unpredictable moods shape the characters' responses. Forgoing computer generated digital tricks, director Chris Kentis drops us into the open sea, swimming with wild, live sharks—in their territory. No mechanical man-eaters or smoothly gliding fins here. The sharks' movements are quick, frantic, and disorienting. Kentis filmed the underwater scenes himself, while his collaborator and wife, Laura Lau, handled the shots filmed from the dive boat.

The scariest part, though, is that the film is based on the true story of a couple who were accidentally left behind on a diving excursion on Australia's Great Barrier Reef—left behind to fend for themselves against the elements, including sharks, in the open water.

"We liked the simple premise of the story," Kentis said at a Seattle International Film Festival interview. "We liked the challenge of telling a story without resorting to rubber sharks and digital effects."

Open Water is not a shark movie. It's a very real situation, filmed in an intimate, compelling style. In the movie, a professional couple, Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) heads to the Bahamas for a dive vacation. The dive captain makes an inaccurate head count, leaving Susan and Daniel floating in the endless sea.

"We were aware of the situation where a dive couple was left behind on the Great Barrier Reef," said Lau, "but we didn't feel driven to re-create the details of their ordeal." Kentis added, "We're divers ourselves, and we wanted to tell the story in as real a way as possible. We worked hard to avoid ...

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Open Water
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
R (for language and some nudity)
Directed By
Chris Kentis
Run Time
1 hour 19 minutes
Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein, Michael E. Williamson
Theatre Release
August 20, 2004 by Lions Gate
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