You may have decided to watch Chris Kentis' Open Water
because you just found out some terrible news and were looking for something majorly depressing
in which to wallow. Perhaps someone close to you died suddenly, and you're still reeling from the shock and pain. It may be, perhaps, that you wanted to see what all the buzz was about, as the film was touted as the micro-budget blockbuster successor to 1999's The Blair Witch Project
. Well, in any case, if the prospect of 79 minutes of watching two people
who are really, truly screwed
appeals to you, then Open Water
is just what the scuba instructor ordered, and then totally forgot about
Meet the happy couple: two work-a-day stiffs who get together only for sex and the odd vacation, which is more difficult to schedule than a Karl Rove Grand Jury. Yet fate smiles upon them this year, and they manage to sneak away for a week of fun-filled Caribbean funness, including everything from pool-side lounging to drinks with little umbrellas in them, just like Steve Martin had in The Jerk
. Then they decide to go scuba diving, which is perfect because the ship's crew -- who make Gilligan
and the Skipper
look like a pair of ultra-competent Sea Gods
by comparison -- apparently just finshed a remedial math course
albeit with failing
grades. So they suit up, climb aboard with all the other suckers who paid way
too much for what they get, and faster than you can say "kersplash!" the ship abandons them in the middle of the ocean to become talking chum-buckets
for a conveniently nearby colony of ravenous sharks. Other than that, it was a perfect vacation.
Now you get to spend the next hour watching these poor slobs realize how totally screwed they are and come to the horrible conclusion that this is the end of their lives. But not before the wife tells her husband, of course, that, "This is your fault, I wanted to go skiing!" Well perhaps he can ponder that as the sharks savagely tear him apart limb from limb. This is why men get married: so that, on their deathbed -- or in this case I guess death-bath -- the women who love them can tenderly remind them about every knuckleheaded decision they've ever made in their lives, just in case they forgot for a moment or two and were looking for something fresh to regret. Thanks, honey.
There is, of course, a few half-arsed rescue attempts which you get to watch from the safety of your comfy chair, oh so glad that your boss is a jerk and you never get vacation time. And a few false hopes dangle in front of the doomed couple -- like a water buoy and a passing ship -- which are then cruely snatched away, and all you can do is cringe. But, mostly, it's the two people bobbing around the ocean going through all the phases of accepting their impending deaths, that occupies the screen time.
And, after a while, this gets old. After all, you know from the get-go the couple's doomed. They wear it like a shark-tooth necklace from the second they're on camera, and besides, who'd make a movie about a couple's rescue from the middle of the ocean, miles from shore? Nobody would believe it: it'd be Rescue from Gilligan's Island all over again, only with sharks and a sex scene. (Come to think of it, that may have made the movie watchable, especially if it involved Ginger, but I digress.)
Open Water was the brain-kitten of Chris Kentis, who wrote and directed the film on a $120,000 budget. The movie went on to gross over a $100 million worldwide, leaving him a fairly comfortable profit margin for his first major flick. And I'll bet my back teeth that he'll spend some of that loot on a state of the art satellite phone, handhead GPS locator, a flask of shark-repellent, and a bucket of flares before he ever goes scuba diving again.