Written and Directed by Chris Kentis
Every summer there is one small, independent film that beats the odds and becomes the must-see film that everyone is talking about. This year Open Water is trying to be that film. It garnered a great deal of buzz at Sundance back in January and reviewers are raving about it; however, I have no idea what film they saw because I have never seen a film more poorly presented.
The visuals were absolutely horrific. I haven't seen a film that looked this bad since I found some ham in the back of my fridge that had been long forgotten. It was shot on video and transferred to film, so it didn't have a fair chance to look good from the start. The camera was constantly moving, which is understandable when shooting on the water, but the budget appears to have been so low that they couldn't afford a tripod when they were on land. Every scene is shot with the camera being handheld in very tight close-ups, which a first-year film student knows doesn't work well together. This causes the images to be jittery and constantly moving around, leaving nothing to focus on. Instead of giving the sense of floating in the water, the viewer feels like they have snorted some bad speed.
It's too bad that the director has completely ruined the experience of watching the film because there are some very good aspects to it. The story is surprisingly smart and keeps you guessing all the way until its believable conclusion. It's about a couple that goes scuba diving in the Caribbean and gets left out in the ocean by a charted boat for almost 24 hours. They can't see any land so they have no choice but to tread water and hope they will get rescued while dealing with the ocean's current and marine life. We also see the characters go through the stages of grief as they deny their situation, get angry at each other for being in the situation, become depressed and eventually accept their fate. The plot and dialogue are so good that this would have made a great radio play. The writer should be mad about the director ruining the presentation of his well-written story, but unlucky for him, they are the same guy.