The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Open Water

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Judy Thorburn

Open Water

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

CHILLS RUN DEEP IN “OPEN WATER”

The last time a movie touched on anyone’s fear of going in to the water, as in the “big blue”, was with the release of Jaws. Who could forget the horrific shock of watching innocent swimmers suddenly being attacked by a huge man eating shark? The carefully tempered pace, suspenseful build up, along with heart pounding music kept all viewers on the edge of their seats.  Leaving the theatre, everyone thought twice about the next time they would consider even wading in the shallow regions by the shore.  If you didn’t have any phobias, this film could easily have created one, for sure.

What made Jaws especially frightening was that it dealt with real life horrors, the possibility of something that can actually happen because the characters and events, although fictionalized for the story, are true to life.  No computer-generated monster, or special effects in sci fi or so-called scare fest films can elicit the kind of reaction that a film, based on real stuff, can conjure up in us.  Jaws was one example, and once again we are back to the sea confronted with the terrorizing elements in Open Water.

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Based on an actual event that occurred off of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 1998, Open Water tells the story of a married yuppie couple, Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) in a strained relationship, who take time out from their busy careers to go on a much-needed vacation to an Island getaway.  What starts out to be a relaxing trip away from home turns disastrous when, during a scuba diving expedition, a careless crewmember miscalculates the number of people returning to his boat, and without realizing it, returns to shore leaving the couple stranded in the middle of the ocean.  However, it doesn’t take too long for Susan and Daniel to discover they aren’t alone, when a stinging jellyfish, deadly sharks and other underwater inhabitants get a little too close for comfort.

Approximately seventy five percent of the eighty minute film takes place in the ocean watching the young couple as they try to cope with their predicament.  At first, they make the best of it believing that someone will be aware of the mistake shortly, and a rescue boat will be on its way. But, as the hours pass, with the time noted on screen, tension builds, and it becomes increasingly unnerving seeing how the cold and dangerous waters present an imminent threat to their lives.

Trying to stay afloat they engage in conversation that leads to bickering and blame, but eventually they come to realize the love they share. And, while most of the time is spent watching them bob up and down in the water, it is the menaces of Mother Nature, whether unseen below the surface or brewing in the sky, that evokes the creepiest inner emotions. Occasionally, the camera makes a transition to the Island resort showing its partying vacationers and mellow peaceful surroundings, a contrast to the disturbing experience going on miles away from shore.  Knowing that noone on land is aware that the couple is missing at sea works to intensify the terrifying feeling of isolation.

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With a budget of only $120,000 director Chris Kentis and his producer wife Laura Lau shot Open Water in digital video and the result is a documentary “you are there” feel. It comes across as if you are right in the middle of it all, sharing the same chilling experience as the characters on screen.  The fact that reasonably unknown actors are cast as the leads also lends a more realistic sense to the story, since they appear as a regular couple that we can relate to.  No special effects were used and yes, those are real live, not mechanical sharks that swim around the actors who wore steel mesh under their diving suits for protection.  That’s scary by itself. And, to think the actors spent a total of 120 hours in those waters for filming. Brrrrr!

Open Water is a basic story that works using the viewer’s imagination as its strongest tool. Relying more on psychological rather visual thrills, the result is one of the most harrowing and gripping film experiences in years.  This only goes to show you that you don’t have to have a big budget and high tech CGI effects to evoke real fear. When it comes to water, many of our fears run deep.