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ALL SHARK NO BITE
THE STORY OF HOW OPEN WATER WAS MADE IS MORE ENTERTAINING THAN WATCHING THE FILM ITSELF

I was eagerly awaiting the new shark movie Open Water, and though I found it to be a bit fascinating to see, I was ultimately more impressed with how they made the film than actually watching the finished product.

Much is being made of the renegade film style behind this movie, which the two lead actors were filmed in actual shark infested waters to dramatize the tale of scuba divers stranded at sea, with no rescue in sight. With nothing but shark proof chain mail (cross your fingers that it works) to protect them from the bloodthirsty tigers of the sea, it's quite a kick to watch. But once you get beyond the gimmick and remember that it's still just a movie, the filmmaking shortcuts and amateurism behind it all really shine through.

For a film that is only 80 minutes long, it's often a dull and tedious experience.

Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan play the unlucky couple good enough to watch, but the first 20 minutes just drags. You just want them to be in the water with the sharks, 'cause that's the only reason you're even watching this. Luckily, some gratuitous nudity in the beginning from the insanely beautiful Ryan (who you might remember from Super Troopers) makes the wait a bit more tolerable.

Once tragedy strikes and they are stuck in the ocean (I won't tell you how), the fun begins. It's a kick to see the first real shark fin go by, and eventually swarms of grey skinned beasts herd around them, knocking them about. Ryan was apparently bitten by a barracuda during the film's shoot, but that's nothing next to the fear they must have felt with the real life man eaters swimming all over the place.

This is what works well in the movie. The same sort of terror you get watching a good zombie movie when the survivors are holed up in some small place keeping the undead brain eaters out with just scrap wood over the doors and windows, is flipped over in reverse here, with them right in the middle of the mysterious ocean with absolutely no clue what's even inches beneath your feet.

A particularly horrifying sequence takes place during a lightning storm, with the entire screen in darkness except for the brief illumination of the sky's electrical display.

The problem? The director, Chris Kentis, chooses to show scenes back on shore. Some of them just random shots of people enjoying the Caribbean beach front. I'm sure it was meant to juxtapose the danger of our heroes with the idyllic vacationers back on shore, but it only serves to remind you that it's just a movie, and you're really not spying on two people as they fight for their lives.

It's certainly better than any Jaws sequel, but less entertaining than the cartoony Deep Blue Sea. I am still more fascinated with how they made the movie, than the movie itself. A documentary about it all, or some extensive DVD extras might make this a great overall package to watch, but as a film by itself, Open Water is a bit of a disappointment.


 

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