Open Water

Dir: Chris Kentis
Star: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis

A remarkably-effective low-budget chiller, this preys on primal fears - abandonment, drowning, being eaten alive. These are pretty much universal, and given such cracks in the viewer's psyche, the film then works away at these with grim tenaciousness. It centers on a holidaying couple, who go scuba-diving. However, due to an unfortunate (but plausible) series of events, the dive-boat leaves, unaware the two are still underwater. When they surface, and the realization of what has happened dawns, the pair cling together, and try to work out how to maximise their survival chances. Head for a boat on the horizon or stay where they are? And are those...fins cutting through the water nearby?

"I wanted to cast unknown actors," explains the director. Wanted? More like "had to"; do you think Tom Cruise's agent would let him swim with real sharks, as the actors here had to? I can just imagine the audition: "Yes, the role requires nudity, you'll be neck-deep in water most of the time - and did I mention the large, carnivorous co-stars?" Bet they were queueing up for that one. Immense credit to the leads, who overcome a script short on character development, and long on mid-ocean bobbing. You or may not care, but when darkness comes in - the total inky blackness of night, far from humanity - and they have to rely on lightning flashes to see what just brushed their leg... Eeh. Never mind scuba-diving, it'll likely be some time before we can visit a state with a coastline, just to be safe.

July 2005

Hope floats
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