> Volume 6 > Number 30


Chris Kentis

Blanchard Ryan
Daniel Travis

Release: 6 Aug. 04

Open Water


A few years ago there were constant reports of a threat to our consciousness, especially when trying to relax from our hard days work. The news didnít let us stop to consider how unlikely the attacks would affect us, but that didnít keep them from constantly reporting on whatever new angle they could image.

Yes, the 2001 shark attacks were a bit of overblown by the media, but thatís not what I was talking about. Iím referring to the introduction of faux-vťritť DV filmmaking as a horror film medium. 1999 was a sickening year for anyone hoping to enjoy The Blair Witch Project because the hype made it impossible to consider on its own merits. When I wrote positively on the film at the time, I felt truly engaged with the filmís merits; weeks later, as television endlessly droned on about its meaning to the future of filmmaking, I was ready to act like it never existed.

I was wrong, though. The end of filmmaking as an art form wasnít established that year, no matter how much people tried. No, the end is nigh, and the apocalyptic attack is coming from a seemingly inconsequential little suspense film called Open Water, a hit at Sundance and now primed for a media blitz. Itís also one of the worst films of the year.

Set over the course of nearly 24 hours as two people are stranded in the middle of the ocean hoping that someone on their scuba diving excursion boat will notice their absence, the film is made digitally with some of the murkiest, ugliest visuals ever blown up into 35mm. Worse yet, the direction is amateur, writing is deadening, and the acting is straight from a porn film. It has all the makings of a bad exploitation film, even positing a pointless nude scene. In the filmís greatest moment, a character even looks to the air as heís remembering something before the film cuts to his memories. Itís straight from Saturday Night Live, and you almost expect those Wayneís World wavy and blurry lines to cascade down the screen.

Painfully trying to fill 79 minutes of screentime, writer/director/editor Chris Kentis supplements his exasperatingly annoying scenes with the two actors (Ryan and Travis -- when Ryan misuses the word 'nauseous' to describe herself, the surely unintended joke is that the nauseated young lady is already quite unpleasant) with a barrage of useless shots of people partying on boats, playing on the beach, and dancing around bonfires. Perhaps these are supposed to be reminders of what these characters could be doing, but they are also reminders of how we could better spend our own afternoon instead of watching someoneís uninteresting home movies, no matter how scripted it is

©2004, David Perry,, 23 July 2004