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.
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.