While some film critics are falling over themselves to bill the sharky scare-fest Open Water as a cross between The Blair Witch Project and Jaws, they're wrong. Though definitely scarier than the ho-hum shenanigans of Blair Witch, Open Water is less of a horror movie than a tense and fascinatingly fatalistic philosophical treatise. With sharks.
Susan and Daniel are your all too average 21st Century couple, so beleaguered by their high powered lives that they're unable to relax, even while vacationing in the Bahamas. Things perk up, however, when the two take a crowded scuba boat to the middle of the ocean--and due to a very unfortunate series of accidents, are left floating alone in the briny blue. The film follows the couple over the next 24 hours of attempted survival; through denial, panic, mutual support, and even bitter bickering over who should claim responsibility for their being in such a crappy situation. Not helping matters are the sharks: Lots and lots of sharks who are continually bumping and nipping at the pair, making Susan and Daniel's predicament even more torturous.
Shot on digital video in a shaky, home movie style, Open Water is short on plot--to its advantage. The characters of Susan and Daniel (who are based on an actual couple) are certainly no Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic--the two are so pleasantly bland and normal that they come off as antiheroes. They are perfect representations of humanity itself, who are, philosophically speaking, tossed around in a dangerous universe, tortured by unseen demons, and finally come to the rather unhappy conclusion that they are undeniably alone. See what I mean by fatalistic?
However, the film's rather mean-spirited (but nevertheless, fun) philosophy is something to be discussed after the movie's end--and there is a LOT to discuss. During Open Water, the viewer will enjoy a state of tension rather than horror; a tension that rises and falls like the waves, as the couple attempts to solve a never-ending litany of problems, such as seasickness, exhaustion, hypothermia, diarrhea, and... did I mention the sharks?