Anybody seen Open Water? Spoil it for me.

I have a four year old, a two week old, and a wife with no interest in such movies at all. I will NEVER get a chance to see this unless I end up putting it in my Netflix queue and even then I’d have to watch it when the kids are asleep (which appears to be never) according to Lady Chance.

So spoil it for me, will you? Do they die?

I saw this movie at the Seattle Film Festival a few weeks ago. I will include non-spoiler commentary first, followed by spoilers in the appropriate box.

Non-spoiler: This movie is a very effective “fear, horror, and unbearable tension” vehicle. From the time the two people are stranded in the open ocean, things get worse and worse. They are spectacularly unprepared for such an emergency, either emotionally or logistically, and the sharks are not the only problem they face. There are a number of good “gotcha!” moments when a shark’s fin suddenly broaches the surface, and there’s an unbelievably amazing three or four minute sequence with an overnight storm where the screen is dead black except for brief (less than a second) glimpses of action by lightning flash. The characters, however, are not very well drawn, so the horror is rooted in the hopelessness of the scenario rather than identification with the specific people. Still, the scenario is powerful enough that the movie works as intended.

At the end, when the lights come up, you’ll feel like you’ve spent an hour being dragged through broken glass. Your muscles will ache, you’ll have to unclench your jaw, and you won’t be much in the mood for socializing and conversation on the way home. Whether or not this sounds like entertainment is up to you. I appreciated it, because it takes a lot to affect me like this in the darkness of a theater, but I can’t really say I enjoyed it.

Now the spoiler:

[spoiler]I’ll get to the very end in a minute.

Up until that point, they’re confronted not just by sharks, but also by stinging jellyfish, diarrhea and nausea (the woman ignores the man’s advice about not drinking the salt water), and separation (they fall asleep and drift apart).

About twenty minutes before the end, the man gets tagged by a shark and bleeds badly. More sharks arrive. All he has is a tiny knife.

The day after the horribly dark and scary night, back on shore, the dive operator finds their gear on the boat, figures out how he miscounted the returning divers, and runs to scramble a rescue operation. We see planes taking off, helicopters, boats, the works.

But it’s a big, big ocean, and the divers aren’t where they used to be. They’ve swum a bit, and the current is strong.

Here’s how it ends:

The man dies on the surface. I don’t recall specifically if he’s lost too much blood, or dies of exposure, or what. (The movie is tense enough that I wasn’t thinking clearly. It’s that effective.) The woman holds onto him for a little while, then pushes him away.

His corpse drifts off a few yards. Cue the shark fin.

She watches as the floating corpse of her husband jerks with a shark hit from beneath. Pause. Another hit and his body rolls. Then a big hit, and he goes under.

She floats alone for a while.

Then her face goes peaceful, she stabilizes her position, and sinks below the waves.

Long shot of empty water.

She’s gone. They’re both dead.

Roll credits.

My moviegoing companion wanted to kill me. I didn’t know it would end like this, or I wouldn’t have suggested that he might want to see “a new real-life horror movie with tremendous buzz!”

The movie has buzz, all right, but the ending is a real buzzkill. We stumbled out into the night alone and afraid.

Yes, this is how the actual incident that originally inspired the film turned out (well, as far as anyone knows: two divers disappeared after being forgotten, with the only evidence turning up a float object of some sort), so yeah, it’s realistic, but damn it’s depressing.[/spoiler]

Ending aside, the movie should be of great interest to students of independent film, for what can be accomplished by dedicated moviemakers using low-budget techniques to execute a strong idea.

Let me know if you need more information.

I heard a review of it this morning. Got 3½ stars.

An audio clip of the review should turn up here over the weekend.

For what it’s worth, I was curious about the facts of the incident that inspired the film, so I found this description from the Guardian.

Cervaise, are you reviewing movies for public consumption anywhere anymore? You’ve just reminded me why you’ve always been my favorite critic.

Yeah, thanks, Cervaise.

[spoiler]Man, that’s a harsh but true ending.

But I admit I’m more interested in it for the alternative movie-making potential I felt it had. Give me minimalism any day![/spoiler]

I’m all for independant filmmaking. I’m all for minimalism. I think that digital offers a wide range of exciting opportunities.

But, man, did this movie look like crap! Crap, crap, absolute crap! Holy crap this movie looked like crap!

A shame really, because I quite liked it for the dramatic elements but it really just about made me puke. If you’re going to see it, I suggest seeing it on the smallest screen possible- might want to wait for the DVD.

Again, I’m not one to just automatically discount digital filmmaking. There have been a few digital films over the past few years that I have just loved (notably Tadpole, Tape, and Final- I think they’re all supposed to have one-word titles for some reason, must be a budget thing). But the visual aspects of these film are very different from the visual aspects of Open Water. Open Water mostly takes place outside, and is generally brightly lit with vibrant colors- mostly blue (water and sky). There were so many mood shots, still shots of the water or shots just panned over the ocean. Well, I didn’t see ocean- I just saw a hideous mess of blue dots, dark blue dots, light blue dots, white dots vibrating feverously across the screen. It was truely nausiating. And it wasn’t just the ocean parts that looked bad. The less than stellar appearance was one of the first things I noticed. It was just so damn grainy.

I agree with many of the positve comments made by other posters- the movie does have a lot going for it. But, as it seems the OP doesn’t get many opportunities to go out to the movies, I’d advise against giving this one priority. Especially, if you’re reading the Spoilers posted here. Someone had spoiled the end for me before I saw it and I think I would have found it much more affecting idf that had not been the case.

Is there any evidence that the lost couple faked their own deaths? As I recall, the bodies were never found, but the scuba tanks and a diary (detailing the couple’s last hours) were found on a beach, weeks afterwards. Why no bodies?
This sounds like a nifty way to disappear…arrange to ahve another boat pick you up, switch identities, and you walk away from sticky family situations, massive debts, hassles, etc. :cool:

I just got back from seeing it. I disagree with bienville; I thought the digital photography looked just fine once we were on the ocean; it’s the scenes in the couple’s hotel room I thought looked like a home movie.

Cervaise, [spoiler]you left out that Daniel drops his knife at some point (which I knew he would, from the moment he first unsheathed it).

And I’m still not clear on why he died. He shouldn’t have bled to death, because Susan tied her weight belt around the wound. And it shouldn’t have gotten cold enough for him to die of hypothermia through that wetsuit.

Susan’s nude scene in the hotel room seemed utterly gratuitous. Still, I’m not complaining.[/spoiler]

IMDB tells me that “Blanchard Ryan” is really “Susan Blanchard Ryan,” so both actors used their real names as their characters.

ralph124c, there are many ways to die in the ocean, and most of them don’t leave a corpse behind. Faking their own deaths is quite a novel assumption to make about two divers who disappear, especially since they’d have to be assuming that the dive boat would miscount and not look for them right away.

Fiver I thought the Nude Scene was much more than simply gratuitous. I thought that showing them both naked in their hotel room the night before they unwittingly go out to their deaths was a highly effective way of contrasting a feeling of complete safety with the danger that is about to be upon them.

How big was the screen you saw it on? I saw it on a gi-huge-ic screen in a big-ass theatre with stadium seating and the whole shuh-bang. And it looked like crap! (But I am glad that it didn’t detract from the experience for you :slight_smile: , since I, otherwise thought it was a pretty good movie.)

Kind of odd that the TV ads played it up as some sort of Jaws sequel. It really isn’t a shark movie, or even a survival adventure. I thought it was a straightforward allegory about marriage.

They get wet.

And I think you’re thinking too hard.

I saw it at the Landmark Midtown Cinema here in Atlanta, where it was showing on the 8-plex’s largest screen. And it looked fine to me, except again for the hotel room scenes, which did look like vacation vid on a consumer-quality VHS camcorder.

Sorry for the resurrection, but I’ve only just seen the film.

Yeah, it did look like video. On our (aborted) film we used DV and it looked amazingly like film in post. (Actually, I think my Panasonic DV camera in 24p mode makes images that look like 16mm right out of the camera.) I’ve seen good video and bad video. For the most part I thought it was a decent effort.

I didn’t connect with the characters. Just didn’t care about them at all. And there was a lot of filler. I’m sure it was supposed to be Artistic and Meaningful, but I thought it was boring. I fast-forwarded through most of it and only resumed play for the dialog.

Good points: I like indie films. Even if they’re technically lacking, or if the acting isn’t the best, I give them points for just being made. And I liked the ending.

Bad points: Too much filler. Instead of building a relationship with the characters or building tension, it bored me. Even though I liked the ending, it was an appreciation of the ending itself. I just didn’t care about the people.

Props to the filmmakers for actually making it. An interesting idea, but not (IMO) told well enough.

(BTW: A couple of weeks after I first heard about Open Water there was a story about a dive boat that left two divers behind. They were found by a boat carrying Boy Scouts, that happened by.)