A review of “Open Water” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for bloodshed and nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 19 minutes

 

 

A shout out to my friend Larry J., who dubs this low-budget thriller “The Blair Water Project”.  Indeed.

Water shares many of that slick indie’s quirky sensibilities, from the shaky hand-held cameras to the ordinary folk on a collision course with disaster.  Case in point are Daniel and Susan (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan), who leave their frazzled careers behind for a last-minute scuba trip to an unspecified Caribbean resort.

The vacation is guaranteed to be a bust when the primary concern is accessibility to Internet Dial-up. Following a crummy night’s sleep in a humid hotel room (broken air conditioning, mystery bugs et al), Daniel and Susan board a recreational dive boat for some much-needed fun in the sun.

An absent-minded head count and an insubordinate diver (Daniel) who savors every minute, and more, of his bottom time results in a late surface and an MIA vessel.

What seems like a minor inconvenience and/or an amusing party story turns ugly.  Two hours, four hours, seven hours of treading chilling sea water and pinning the baggage of blame on each other to mask their burgeoning terror takes it toll.  Daniel and Susan are adrift; shark bait for the encroaching predators.

Water’s production values are grassroots cheap. Its dialogue is stilted and a number of plot points are hard to reconcile with reality. But writer/director Chris Kentis ekes genuine tension from little more than a pair of luckless yuppies and a relentless, unforgiving body of water.

As a certified diver I relate rather saliently to the frustrations and fears inherent in the sport.  Who doesn’t respond to the mystery of what lurks beneath?