Friday, October 29, 2010

Film #46: Open Water (2004)

Jaws made audiences never want to swim again. Open Water made audiences never want to trust an islander.
Because you see, island folk live on island principles. “Work” is something you fit in between hammock sessions, and “responsibility for human life” is something invented by the man to keep islanders down.
We are free and easy on de island, mon! Safety procedures and business ethics need not apply! It’s all in the name of chillaxing and fun! Jia!

And fun times are had, at least at first, in this week’s 2004 low budget sensation screamer. Overworked mainlanders Susan and Daniel decide to take an impromptu vacation to the Caribbean in order to escape the pressures of modern life. Everything starts out fantastic! They imbibe umbrella garnished drinks by the pool, dance to the smooth Caribbean beat in clubs, and even lie around naked in bed (curse you broken air conditioner!).

But then they make the biggest (and possibly last) mistake of their lives: they trust an islander with responsibility. The couple decides to take a scuba diving trip on a local diving company’s rig. But it’s run by islanders. Yep, trouble.

Some fuzzy math is done while conducting a passenger head count by the boat’s resident moron. So when nearly all of the divers on the trip return to the boat, the moron mistakenly says “all’s aboard” and those mofo’s are Outtie-5000 back to shore. Only problem is, Susan and Daniel weren’t on board. They were left in the middle of the ocean.

At first they are optimistic. “Oh, we must have drifted away from our dive spot,” they say. But nope, not quite. You trusted islanders, foos, and now your busted ass is stranded in the middle of the ocean. Worst part is, the idiots on the boat don’t even realize you are missing, nixing any hope for a search party.

But that isn’t the worst part, because soon come the sharks. Oh, the sharks were awesome, welcomed visitors by Susan and Daniel just a few hours before when they were on their “scuba adventure. Don’t try and tame nature, yo! Such arrogance will come back to bite you (rimshot!). These sharks quickly become unwelcome, especially when they start taking chunks out of our dead-meat divers.

They are alone. They are scared. They float… and wait to meet teeth.
Mental and physical horror mounts with each shark nudge, as our vacationing couple swims to survive in the 2004 super-pants-soaker “Open Water.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 2.1
Chris Dimick splashes:
“This movie is awful. But that isn’t a comment on its production quality or ability to convey a story. What I should say is, this movie made me feel awful, in addition to lonely, blue, depressed and maybe a little hungry (…for human flesh. If it’s good enough for Great Whites, it’s good enough for me!).

Horror movies are typically packed to the gills with horrible, awful things. But usually, there is at least a fun element to the horror. Whether their point is to be campy, scary, gross, spooky, offensive or outrageous, horror movies typically try to instill a feeling of fun within their scares and motive. What you see is horrific, but its presented in an entertaining way.

But then there are those other horror movies, like Open Water, whose goal is not so much to entertain but to make you feel depressed. Granted, Open Water inherently should be a depressing movie. It is a flick about people abandoned at sea and being stalked by blood hungry sharks.
As a film, it was very well done. I was amazed that even on a one-note premise, the film could hold a viewers attention for 80 minutes of basically people floating in water. All the marine life, including the sharks, were real -- and this added so much to the fear element of the movie.

But a vital element was missing. There was no fun. The entire time I just felt horrible for these people (the film is based on a true story) and their situation. Each awful thing that happened to them was not so much entertaining, but depressing. Though you wanted there to be some hope for them, the movie makes it clear that they are pretty much screwed. It’s like, ‘Hey, yeah, these people are totally f*$#ed, want to watch them get terrorized!?”

Yes, this was an impactful movie. It was realistic, filmed in a documentary style on digital film that made you feel like you were right in the water with these poor catfish.
But you know what, I don’t want to be in that water; I don’t want to feel their pain; I don’t want to watch people in a hopeless situation get terrorized – UNLESS there is some fun involved… or at least a point, a message, or a reason.

But there was no underlying morale in Open Water, no real reason for being made, other than to show two rather innocent people get completely face-plowed by bad luck. No thanks.
Good effort, love the way you look. But Open Water, you have no point other than to bring me down.
With this guy, if there is no fun, I no like.”

N-Rating: 1.6
Nick Rich splashes:
"What does one say about a movie that takes place almost entirely in the middle of the ocean? My mind is brought back to images of the Old Man and The Sea (which I saw when I was but a lad)... and honestly, I think I was more drawn in by that film. I mean, there's really only so much you can do with characters floating aimlessly for and hour and a half (at least the Old Man had something to do!).

Open Water is a textbook example of what happens when a movie is over-hyped (see image below).

Sure, it does great for its box office return (which is, of course, what distributors care about), but hype can create a rough storm for viewers to weather when viewing a film. "Mark said this movie was awesome!" "Sara said it made her stay up all night!" Blah, blah, BLAH! In my book, the only thing hype does is make it that much harder for me to enjoy a film. Now, I'm not overly hard on films... actually, for the most part, I think I often go a little easy on them... I really only have one criteria: that they be good. Sadly, Open Water did not fit the bill.

Chris and I both agreed that there was only one moment in the film that sent an actual shock of adrenaline through us - one moment! In a feature length film that is supposed to elicit terror this is simply not enough; it is especially disappointing when you are dealing with a feature that bills itself as "intensely frightening!" (again, see above image). Open Water has a good premise: pick something that sucks (getting stranded), something everyone fears (sharks) and marry the two together for an "intense" experience. Well, I'm sorry to say, some intense experiences just don't translate well to film. I'm afraid of immunizations and they definitely suck, but if you made a film about getting shots it would be pre-tty boring... and possibly make you want to scream.

Lament! Oh, Open Water! I respect the fact that you were an indie film that took 3 years to make on weekends while your writers/directors/producers/camera crew held down a full time job... but as much as I'd like to like you, that doesn't change the fact you just didn't move me (well, I almost started feeling sea sick for a minute there, but you know what I mean). Sigh. I really do wish we could have been chums.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you've never sailed before and need to see if you'll get sea sick on your upcoming cruise or if you really, really want to believe in the power of hype."

Things We Learned from Open Water:
-Bored just waiting for sharks to eat you and your spouse? Arguing helps pass the time!
-“Tiredness” is not an excuse for forgoing whoopee-making.
-Don’t ever trust a scuba instructor who says “sharks aren’t aggressive to humans.”
-Nick can do a great Jacque Cousteau impression.
-You can’t dive without a mask, even if you are from New Jersey.
-Best way to hail a boat? Hold your fist in the air.
-Fish love to feast on puke.
-The night time is not always the right time (like, when lost at sea).
-Cable TV can save your life.
-If you drink sea water it will give you diarrhea.
-Always keep candy in your wet suit pockets.
-Never let go of your loved one at sea (we also learned this from Titanic).
-“I’m gonna get wet” is the creepiest way for a man to say he’s going for a swim:

Quote of the Viewing:

[Susan and Daniel’s abandoned at sea situation goes from bad to worse when a school of jelly fish decides to snuggle up close. Stings ensue. The humans freak out.]
Chris: “Have you ever been stung by a jelly fish, Nick?”
Nick: “No, but I’ve seriously thought about peeing on someone stung by a jellyfish.”
Chris: “What, why?! Does that distract them from the pain or something? You are sick, man.”
Nick: "No! You’ve never seen that Friends episode? It is supposed to make the sting feel better.”
Chris: “Lies, you just like to pee on people.”

Sharks: Just Plain Badass
Their huge chompers. Their lighting speed. And that sexy dorsal fin. Mmmmm! The RDHP has a Brasky-sized man-crush on the king of the ocean – the shark. We mean, just look at those son of a guns! You can’t say they are not badest thing in the ocean. And we mean bad in a like a soul kind of way. Bad meaning good. Get it. Ugh, now we are off track. Back to sharks. Sharks are bad, man! Let’s celebrate the villains of Open Water with an internet tribute the sea’s living garbage disposal: Sharks.

RDHP Declares:
This week marks one of the RDHP's favorite holidays. A day that, for once a year, the world shares our interest in all things scary and spooky. On Oct. 31, the RDHP and all horror fans become norms! Quite the mind freak. In celebration of the festival of Samhain, we give you the following Halloweeny pixs and video. Have a great, horrific holiday!

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