An over-worked couple (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis) whose marriage, while not in danger, has clearly reached some difficult shoals, head off on a diving vacation. A mix-up (which is disturbingly credible) results in the tour ship leaving them behind. Stuck in the middle of the ocean, they float together, hoping against hope for rescue, growing cold and hungry. And then there is the marine life. Like stinging jellyfish. And sharks…
The trailers made this look like…a shark movie, which it isn’t really (though the sharks do play an important role). But this is a situation where literally EVERYTHING represents a threat. Time itself will do these two people in if they aren’t eaten first. Open Water is first and foremost a psychological thriller (and a fine one at that) where we witness the slow disintegration of people under stress. The simple premise is tailor-made for the low budget, and suspension of disbelief is alarmingly easy. Dark stuff, indeed.
A dark, mature, squirm-inducing film. Stay away if you’re looking for the standard roller-coaster ride, but the serious horror fan will be rewarded.
Open Water 2 – Adrift:
The first Open Water film was one of those underdog stories that keep the filmmaking industry alive and vibrant today. I was pleased with the simplicity of it all and the emotional effect that kind of storytelling could have. The film provided hope that an Indie film shot on weekends and vacations on an almost nonexistent budget could have something important to say. While this sequel attempts to reproduce all of these elements, it only further demonstrates how sadly they are missing. There’s no small-production feel to the process. The only thing small here is the script. Unlike our original couple, these swimmers are in peril not because of someone else’s negligence, but due to their own stupidity. When three couples out on a yacht to celebrate one of their birthdays, they all slip into the water without first checking to be sure the ladder or a landing was put out so they can get back on. Add a baby left behind, and I still can’t get too worked up about whether or not these idiots survive. The stupidity continues as each stage of further danger is only brought about by one moronic action after another. Finish it off with an ending that tries to be mysterious but only ends up being the idiot cherry on top of this idiot sundae.
I asked to see this film, perhaps expecting to see more of the raw tension and simple genius of the first film. I was disappointed, as you will be if you get it expecting more of the same. The result is a slick quickie story that will leave you feeling a little cheated. Tension and suspense are replaced with a ton of extraneous dialog. It’s basically “I talk, you listen.”
Both films are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 respectively. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC/MPEG-4 codec at an average of only about 18 mbps. Again, the first film looks better. Colors are generally a bit soft. Black levels don’t rise to the occasion one would expect in a high-definition image presentation. Detail and contrast are really only a slight upgrade from the standard-definition versions. These were done on video, and it takes something away from the final product. The life of grain and film would have gone far to add more animation to the movies.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is better in the first film. Waves and wind and other sea sounds are constant, and the rear speaker level is very strong. There is slight harshness to the dialog (again, the limits of the budget), but the surround effects are arguably superior to the experience of seeing the film in the theatre. In the second film what you get is pretty minimalist here. This is another one of those 5.1 tracks that really makes little use of the surround speakers. Just about everything is dialog, so the entire presentation appears pretty much limited to the front. A few subtle water slaps can be heard from time to time, but never enough to create the setting needed to put you in intimate contact with the action. There isn’t much of a score, so there’s never any real dynamic range to speak of.
Both commentaries (Ryan and Travis on the first, director Chris Kent is and producer Laura Lau on the second) are big on the behind-the-scenes aspects, which, given the rather unique way in which this film was made, is fitting. “The Indie Essentials” is a featurette that, while ultimately promotional in its goals, nonetheless has some useful things to say. “Calm Before the Storm” is a fairly standard making-of featurette. Adding interest is a montage of more footage of Kent working in the water with the sharks. There are also seven deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. The menu is fully animated and scored.
Open Water 2:
“Making Of Open Water 2″ This 20-minute feature reveals little more than each actor rehashing the thin story line for us.
There is some genuine tension and suspense to be found here. Make no mistake. The films offer one of the more realistic horrors that you can experience. More than once I found myself completely engaged in the characters’ plight. This is much more true of the first film. The connection of a married couple stands in stark contrast to the usual collection of pretty friends who end up bringing most of their troubles on themselves. The high-definition versions aren’t quite the improvement in sound and image I was hoping for, but they do offer the films conveniently together for the price of one Blu-ray. Watching them so closely together really brings out the differences in the films, as well. I think I liked the second film even less this time around when it immediately followed the atmosphere of the first.
This review was written by David Annandale & Gino Sassani