Open Water

I have a thing for sharks, and shark movies. I mean, I was raised on Jaws, and the only reason I don’t own a copy of Deep Blue Sea is that they were out when I went to look for it, and it hasn’t come up since then. And if you’ve read me for longer than a day, you know that the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is something akin to Semana Santa for me.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I chose Open Water as my birthday movie tonight. And while I suspect that the majority of audiences, like the one I saw it with, will pan it, I quite enjoyed the film.

It’s the story, loosely based on real events, of two scuba divers left behind by their boat, while on vacation in a tropical location. (It was filmed 18 miles off the coast of the Bahamas, though the story it was based on took place in Australia), and are adrift, alone, in open water.

Critics have called it “the scariest shark movie since Jaws,” but it’s not scary in a blood and guts monster movie kind of way. It’s scary because it’s a human story. It’s two people stuck in a horrible situation. There’s very little action. There are endless shots of open water. There is odd aboriginal music used to mark the passage of time. But the scary part isn’t in the toothy fish circling ever nearer the humans, it’s in the moments that all of us recognized – like when, several hours into their ordeal – the husband accuses the wife of blaming him for their predicament, and she yells at him, “I wanted to go SKIING!”

I can’t tell any more without spoiling the movie, but if you do go see it, remember this: It was shot with a hand-held digital camcorder on a budget of $120,000. There are no special effects, because there was no budget – in fact, the sharks that do appear in the movie are real sharks (read about that here) because it was cheaper to use real animals. It’s an independent film. And it is NOT a monster movie.

(Though there were some monstrous people in the theatre…like the women sitting down the aisle from us who were unable to whisper, and kept commenting that the movie was stupid. I came close to throwing popcorn at them and telling them to shut up, but that would have been more disruptive than they were being.)

If you’re a nut for shark week, independent films, and unknown actors, see this movie. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Open Water by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.