JeffVice's Review of Open Water

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All the hype, hoopla and buzz would have you believe "Open Water" is the second coming of "Jaws." But don't believe it. This shark-attack thriller is more like "The Blair Witch Project," which was an initially shocking, chilling film that has been greatly diminished because it was overhyped (and because of a much-inferior sequel). And, ironically, both "Blair Witch" and "Open Water" started out as hits at the Sundance Film Festival. While "Open Water" does employ a few clever gimmicks, and does have some tense moments, it also features some pretty bad storytelling and thin characterizations. By the time it's over, the two main characters have become so whiny and irritating you'll be cheering for the sharks to get them. Those two characters are Susan and Daniel (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis), squabbling yuppies who are on vacation in the Bahamas, where they're planning to do some scuba diving and get away from everyday troubles. However, they stay underwater a little too long, and their tour group leaves them behind. And unfortunately, they're much too far away from land to swim back to shore. As hours roll by, the two begin to realize that their chances of rescue are diminishing. Worse, it appears that sharks have begun circling them and are preparing to make them their next meal. Screenwriter/director Chris Kentis based this tale on some real-life events, though he clearly has his own ideas about what happened to the stranded couple. His pacing is a huge problem, though. While the film is relatively brief, it's a slow tease up to the point where the two characters wind up in the water — and that's when the film actually starts to work. The characters are extremely one-dimensional, something the actors can't overcome. In particular, Ryan's performance is fairly amateurish. "Open Water" is rated R for scenes of underwater violence (shark attacks, mostly implied), occasional use of strong sexual profanity, brief gore, brief full female nudity, and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 79 minutes. E-MAIL:
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Okfor ages12+