Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Open Water (2003) DVD

I am never scuba diving. Ever!

This film is like an 81 minute long public service ad showing you the perils of open water scuba diving. It shows us an unmarried couple who take a spur-of-the-moment diving vacation. They are dive certified and end up on a chartered boat in some un-named tropical locale. A mishap in the head count (why not have a sign-in sheet???) leads to our two protagonists being stranded two hours out from land, in the middle of the ocean.

That's where the based-on-a-true-story begins.

Daniel and Susan, our erstwhile divers, decide to do their own thing and not stay with the group. (There's Public Service Ad #1 - Stay With the Group!) They also spend too much time fiddling with some eels and petting a nurse shark, surfacing right at the 35 minutes dive time allotted for the trip. (PSA #2 - Be on Time!)

The boat is gone, the crew having flubbed the headcount and no one else noticing two people were missing. (PSA #3 - Make Friends Who Will Miss You! and PSA #4 - Don't Trust the Locals!)

Gradually, the two adrift divers realize they are lost at sea. Things begin to get worse as panic sets in, and the sharks begin to circle. If you follow closely, the film follows the Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. It gives an interesting, even emotional, look into their situation.

The duo must deal with dehydration, motion sickness, hunger, fear, jellyfish swarms, and the ever present sharks as they try to survive. Daniel and Susan act like I imagine most couples in love would in a situation like this. It wasn't overblown. It wasn't melodramatic. They love each other, help each other, even yell at each other, but through it all they are there for one another.

The ending is more Perfect Storm than Titanic. It's melancholy, and leaves you a bit disappointed. But it's real. It feels true, like it would happen that way.

The scenes with the sharks were done using live sharks. No CG was used in the film. The whole thing was financed by two people, director Chris Kentis and his wife, producer Laura Lau. It was digitally shot, and often had only two or three crew filming (plus the actors) on weekends and holidays.

For an independent film shot for a mere $130,000, Open Water is a surprising well made movie. Lion's Gate purchased the film for $2.5 million after a screening at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was very well received. It grossed over $52 million worldwide.

I mention all that because while the film itself, while good, is not overly impressive, how it was made is. In this summer's glut of high budget, over-the-top films I've seen, Open Water is a refreshing change of a well-told, well-acted story done on a minimal budget.

For those of you with kids or easily bruised sensibilities, there is one (totally un-needed) scene of sexual nudity, and several places with heavy cursing. Though, in all honesty, I would have said much worse in that situation, and the cursing lent the film more realism than if it were eliminated or cut down.

The DVD I watched (Okay ...bought for my collection) is a Widescreen, 2-Disc set with tons of features. There are two commentary tracks: one with the director and producer, one with the actors. also included are Deleted Scenes, English and Spanish tracks (how do you scream in Spanish?), a Making Of featurette, and a short feature called "The Indie Essentials".

I haven't viewed the extras yet, so cannot really comment on them at this time.

For a bargain bin $5 movie, it was a good investment. I'm sure I'll watch this again a few times, as well as view some of the extra features.

As rental, you wouldn't be wasting your time or money. As a purchase, if you like survival flicks as much as I do, this is a decent one. I give Open Water a very solid 3 out of 5 Raivynns!

Raivynn Rating

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