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A couple on holiday in the Bahamas goes scuba-diving. They have plenty of underwater fun exploring the ocean depths and cavorting with the many wonderous creatures of the sea, right up until their tour boat accidentally leaves them behind in shark-infested waters. That's it. That's the entire plot of this movie. Two people, bobbing up and down with the waves, doing everything possible not to end up as fish food. If that doesn't sound scary to you, then here's a great idea... jump into the ocean and try it for yourself!
The open water sequences in Open Water are, indeed, terrifying. Unfortunately, the audience also has to endure the half-hour leading up to them. These opening scenes are where Open Water is at its most shallow. Essentially a low-budget shocker like, for example, The Blair Witch Project, Open Water relies on the imagination of its audience for most of its frights. It does not rely on imaginative directing, insightful writing, or even particularly good acting.
Filmed in the style of a vacation home video, we are introduced to the couple, Daniel and Susan, played respectively by Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan, as they prepare to leave on their island getaway. Once in the Bahamas, we spend some time with them as they relax and shop for souvenirs. Pretty boring stuff, and designed to be so, in order to heighten the thrills that come later in the film. However, those results are mixed due to a complete lack of believable romantic chemistry between Travis and Ryan. I'm tempted to conclude that perhaps Travis was miscast. As for Ryan, besides displaying her fine acting talents, she also displays her fine body in a gratuitous nude scene that was only included to ensure an 'R' rating. Kudos to Blanchard Ryan! Anyway, these scenes eventually lead to the couple's ill-fated scuba-dive, leaving them alone in the middle of the ocean with only each other to depend upon for survival. Meanwhile, making a bid for survival of their own are a bunch of hungry sharks.
The sense of danger is dramatically enhanced by Open Water's meager budget, a constraint that, among other things, forced them to use real sharks! No lame CGI effects here, folks! Do Daniel and Susan get picked up in the nick of time? Or is it a one way trip to Davey Jones' locker? I'm not gonna tell you, but I will say that it's an exciting and incredibly suspenseful ride. In fact, the last two-thirds of this movie are worth the price of admission, despite being set up by some extremely weak material.
To sum up, while Open Water may not be a great movie, I still don't think I'll be going scuba-diving any time soon.