Open Water is the true story of a couple that went scuba diving from a dive boat and were never seen again after accidentally being left out in the ocean by a dive boat crew.
Daniel Kintner (Daniel Travis) and Susan Watkins (Blanchard Ryan) had crazy, hectic lives that didn't allow them to spend enough time together.
**Be forewarned, there is a gratuitous nude shot of Susan early on in the movie.
They decide to get away to the Bahamas for a scuba trip to relax and try to get in touch with each other again.
On the second day of their vacation, they decide to take a trip on a scuba diving boat. When everyone is on board, the diving instructor marks "20" on his note pad to record the head count. On the trip out, someone makes a comment about sharks in the water; but the dive instructor laughingly dismisses it.
When they reach the dive spot, divers go into the water as couples, using the buddy system. The dive is set for 35 minutes; and divers are instructed to be back at the boat within that time period.
A short while later a couple comes back on board. The woman had a problem with pressure equalization and had to abort the dive. The dive master marks three "ticks" on his sheet to record three people on board. Seth, who had forgotten his dive mask, persuades the couple to lend him one; and then persuades the man of the twosome to join him on the dive. The dive master does not pay attention to the couple leaving the boat and does not correct the head count on his note pad.
Meanwhile, Daniel and Susan decide to separate from the group and explore a different area underwater. As the 35-minute time period approaches, couples begin to return to the dive boat; and the diving instructor ticks off their numbers. Prior to leaving, he shows 20 on his pad, when the actual number should be 18. The dive crew believes that everyone is on board and leaves the dive spot.
What actually happens to Daniel and Susan after this point is pure speculation.
The next morning their belongings are eventually discovered on board the dive boat. The IDs are checked; and the dive instructor remembers seeing them on board. Their hotel rooms are checked; and the beds have not been slept in. At 8:55 AM helicopters, planes and boats are sent out on a rescue mission.
This 2003 movie was very loosely based on the story of an American couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who took a scuba diving trip in 1998 to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. They joined a group of divers on a boat from the Outer Edge Dive Company. The head count was wrong and their belongings were not found until the following morning, just as the movie portrays. The picture to the right is of the Lonergans.
This low-budget, $500,000, film was financed by writer-director Chris Kentis and his wife and producer, Laura Lau. Both are experienced scuba divers. The movie was shot with a hand-held digital camera. The film was purchased by Lions Gate Entertainment for $2.5 million after its screening at the Sundance Film Festival; and the film eventually grossed $55 million worldwide.
There is none. The movie went very quickly from a bedroom scene in which Susan does not want to have sex with Daniel to the Bahamas trip. We never get a chance to get to know this couple at all.
Did Kentis and Lau make an effort to contact friends and relatives to get to know the couple better? If they didn't, I think it's disrespectful to make up personalities and lives for these two people.
As the couple bobs around in the water, it's almost as if you're sitting around a pool with them having a drink. I didn't feel any raw emotion, especially from Susan. There was some arguing and a little fear shown.
No one knows exactly what happened to this couple. For all we know, they could have been in the water for 15 minutes and been eaten by sharks. Any injury would have sealed their fate immediately. This movie could have been shot as a half-hour special for as much character development and actual knowledge that was available after the couple was abandoned. I could not get past that fact.
Whenever I watch this movie, I have several emotions going on at one time:
Anger - I am angry that the dive instructor was careless in keeping the head count. I am angry that in a situation involving people's lives that there was no checks-and-balances system in use. The head count should have been performed by two separate people just prior to casting off and again just prior to heading back to shore. I am also angry that we did not get to know the Lonergens; and that their characters were portrayed so lackadaisically.
Depression and Fear - Watching the dive boat disappear into the distance, watching those two unfortunate people bobbing around on the water and realizing the desperation of their situation was depressing. There is nothing but water in every direction; and they are drifting away from the dive spot.
Annoyance - In spite of the anger, depression and fear that I briefly felt, since I didn't get to know the Lonergens, all I have to base my feelings on are a couple of actors that have not allowed me to get to know them. On the sea, Susan is a whiner, which seemed in stark contrast to the little bit of the confident, busy business woman that I saw at the beginning of the movie. As I watch them bob around in the ocean for a half-hour, I'm torn between feeling empathy for this couple and wanting this 79-minute to move along because I'm getting seasick. It sounds crass; but I wanted them to either get rescued or get eaten by sharks.
I think this is a movie that would have worked better as a documentary. There wasn't enough knowledge about what actually happened. Actual facts could have been investigated, the parties involved could have been interviewed, dialogue with families and friends could have been included, they could have spoken to the rescue crew, etc.
I still think the movie is worth watching once. You may have a different opinion than I do; and you'll definitely learn that if you ever go out on a dive boat, be sure that you have someone other than the dive crew check to make sure you're back on board!
This movie is available on DVD or for download and is rated R (Language and Brief Nudity).