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Open Water (2003)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 191
Fresh: 138 | Rotten: 53

A low budget thriller with some intense moments.


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 9

A low budget thriller with some intense moments.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.4/5
User Ratings: 55,044

My Rating

Movie Info

Independent filmmaker Chris Kentis directs the dramatic thriller Open Water, based on a true story. Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) are a busy married couple on an island vacation. They board a vessel called the Reef Explorer with a group of other scuba divers, traveling 15 miles out to sea. Since they are certified to dive in open waters, the couple breaks off from the group to go exploring. The Reef Explorer accidentally leaves without a proper head count, leaving them

Dec 28, 2004


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All Critics (199) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (138) | Rotten (53) | DVD (34)

There are no Hollywood heroes in these waters, only two regular people ... plus you and me, huddling in the dark.

August 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sharks are nature's most efficient killing machines. Open Water, which co-stars sharks, is the summer cinema's most efficient scaring machine.

August 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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Considered in its ham-handed entirety, Open Water feels more of an exercise in cinematic sadism.

August 20, 2004 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Terrifying precisely because it doesn't go in for cheesy shock tactics and special effects.

August 15, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The unforgiving power of nature are all on display to amazing, and frightening, effect.

August 13, 2004 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Becomes a slow and steady descent into pure fear.

August 11, 2004 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Intense relationship story isn't for kids.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

Scary, tense, atmospheric, and well acted...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Kentis and Lau have labored to make an almost documentary-style film. It's meant to make us feel like we are really there, and to a large extent it succeeds.

September 27, 2006 | Comment (1)
Christianity Today

"Open Water" works on many levels, chief among them as an examination of isolation, worry, terror, and the dread that can accompany the unknown.

November 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Open Water depends on the audience to be able to vicariously place themselves in the situation at hand, and if you can do that, you're in for a nerve-frying treat.

June 26, 2005 Full Review Source: FromTheBalcony

Lo mismo ya lo dijo, mucho mejor, Steven Spielberg hace 30 años.

April 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

'Creatividad y un guión inteligente reemplazan la falta de presupuesto para crear un producto de buena calidad'

April 4, 2005

A horrifying meditation on how contentment can lull us into complacency, detachment, and ultimately, absolute isolation.

April 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Freeze Dried Movies
Freeze Dried Movies

Low-budget and sparse, but very effective.

March 7, 2005 Full Review

Uses a minimalist budget, a vast outdoor setting, a very small cast, and a narrative that meticulously builds a pervasive sense of dread without giving too much away

March 3, 2005 Full Review Source:

Un exercice minimaliste satisfaisant, mais vite oublié.

February 25, 2005

Sure to push the buttons of anyone with a shark phobia.

February 7, 2005

The sharks were bad enough but who would have thought a jellyfish could be so frightening?

January 3, 2005 Full Review
Broomfield Enterprise

[It's] perhaps the most boring thriller you will ever see that will still manage to thrill you like crazy.

December 28, 2004 Full Review Source:

[Creates] the steadily mounting feeling that something could go terribly wrong at any moment, both in front of and behind the camera.

December 4, 2004 Full Review Source: The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

It's the influence of Reality TV that has made Open Water's naturalistic suffering (and crippling literal-mindedness) seem like acceptable escapism.

December 1, 2004 Full Review

Funciona não apenas como um suspense exemplar, mas principalmente como um estudo sobre a fragilidade do Homem diante da Natureza e sobre a maneira com que enxergamos a morte.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Not likely to help scuba diving become the world's most popular pastime, but only scary if you're already frightened of your own shadow in a cinema.

October 8, 2004 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

an expertly modulated horror movie

September 30, 2004

They float, encounter sharks, float, encounter jellyfish, float, encounter more sharks...zzzzzz. With...tension-inducing music, this film could have been a real nail-biter.

September 19, 2004 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Open Water

Daniel: Other people go on vacation and spend their days just laying around. We have a story we're going to be telling for the rest of our lives.

"Don't get left behind."

Open Water is a well done independent thriller. Supposedly based on actual events, but this event is something I'm not familiar with, so I have a hard time believing that this is even close to the real event. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Open Water a great deal. It may be the scariest(and when I say scary, I mean from the real life aspect of it) shark movie ever. It's a serious movie, that makes the viewer feel like they are floating around in the middle of the ocean.

A couple goes on vacation and decide to go diving on a reef tour. When the count is botched, they are left behind without notice. The rest of the movie is an excursion into the levels of human fear, panic, and insanity. All of it is done very well and I was left feeling claustrophobic even though the movie is set in the the most wide open of settings.

The acting isn't tremendous, but that isn't too big of a deal. Most of the embarrassing acting is in the beginning before the diving trip. In the panic and stress moments though, I think the actors did a fairly good job portraying the characters feelings. What sets the movie apart though is how atmospheric and dark toned it is, and just how real life it all feels. 

Open Water is one of those shark movies you have to see. It's not a masterpiece like Jaws, but it is still one of the best. I think it's a completely underrated film that is deserving of much more admiration than it received. If you give it a shot, there's the possibility of finding a new hidden gem of filmmaking.
September 29, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

True story about a couple who got left behind on a diving trip in the open water.
February 8, 2013
T Tsang

Super Reviewer

A really interesting concept that's HORRIBLY executed. There's no plot. Only a lot of bickering, the occasional scream, and a situation that runs out of gas about half way through the film. Thank god they all died.
August 20, 2011

Super Reviewer

How unsettling of a thought that this has all happened for real. I can't imagine a situation more terrifying than being alone and helpless in shark-infested waters. Filming it with handheld cameras, using only unknown actors, added even more to the realism. Most of the suspense doesn't kick in until in the second half, but once it gets there, it's a non-stop sensation of dread and high anxiety. Because where Jaws was just fiction, the events behind this movie are anything but.
July 25, 2011
Mike S

Super Reviewer

    1. Seth: Let's swim out of this puke.
    – Submitted by Christy B (22 months ago)
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