This relatively short drama about a married couple who are abandoned while on a diving trip in the Caribbean is quietly terrifying.
The pre-release hype seemed to make it a real-life JAWS; but JAWS was a summer blockbuster about fear based on a novel; OPEN WATER is a low-budget cinematic look at relationships, blame and forgiveness, death and dying, and fear engendered by real life. The film asks what we might do in the same situation: the couple was stranded because they were late coming to the surface after their scuba dive, but worse still, the boating company’s employees failed to account for all the divers. So they left and the couple was left behind.
I doubt if the filmmakers realized that by moving the action from off shroe Australia to the Caribbean they made the people responsible for the catastrophe two black men and a woman. I would have wished for a little more creativity since they were fictionalizing the story anyway.
The film worked for me though I would have liked some final commentary about the questions that linger after the original catastrophe and the consequences for the boating company and the families of the couple.
(Confession: since I had never seen JAWS all the way through – I have a healthy respect for the ocean and ocean tragedies are scary for me – my sister and I rented the video and saw it before going to the movie. She had seen JAWS before, but you know, she screamed more than I did. OPEN WATER is not about sharks, it’s about what people do in impossible, unthinkable situations.)