Region 2 Edition
Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein, Estelle Lau
Inspired by an event that took place in
Australia in 1999, Open Water tells a very simple story, in a very
straightforward manner: A young couple on holiday are accidentally
abandoned at the end of a scuba-diving trip, fifteen miles from the shore,
in shark-infested waters.
The film has often been compared to The
Blair Witch Project: it has a similar cinema verité-feel to it, and a
similar structure, and both films were made on shoestring budgets, with a
very small cast. It's a lean film. There are some self-indulgent shots,
and its pace is a little erratic, but it's hard not to get involved with
the characters, and their horrible predicament. The movie isn't sharp
enough to be truly thrilling, but it does have its moments, particularly
when it really begins ratcheting up the tension.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic
widescreen format, with an Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (at 448kbps).
The film was shot on DV format videotape
(using Sony VX2000 and P150 cameras, if you're interested). It looks like
the DVD version has been transferred from the video version, rather than
from the film version that would have been used for its theatrical run.
There are no signs of film dirt or other tell-tale artefacts.
Unfortunately, the results aren't spectacular.
The transfer has clear signs of being
transferred from an NTSC recording, with interpolation errors (combined
images from more than one frame) from the standards conversion process.
There's also some evidence that the image has been artificially sharpened:
there are frequent signs of aliasing (jagged lines on diagonal lines),
although this doesn't seem to have resulted in any distracting
edge-enhancement halos. On a cheap player the picture was often solarised,
like a computer image with a limited number of colours, but a better
machine smoothed this out completely.
Colours are often vivid (the patches of
fluorescent colour on the diving suits are often very prominent), but
sometimes unnatural, and generally smeary. Contrast is adequate, but has a
tendency to get clogged up in shadow areas in some sequences. Despite the
sharpness, apparent detail is somewhat lacking. The average bit-rate is a
high 7.7Mb/s. The film's brevity is obviously a benefit here.
The film's various on-screen captions
(marking the passage of time) are in the original theatrical format (they
are not player-generated).
The film is supported by optional English
and English HoH subtitles. None of the bonus material is subtitled,
though, including the commentary track.
The film has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio
track (at 448kbps). The surrounds are used judiciously (a full-on
surround mix for the film's final hour might have been rather
overwhelming, not to mention nauseating!) Instead the mix, which includes
an eclectic mix of source cues ("old
Caribbean blues and chain gang songs, south pacific religious and
celebratory hymns", according to the PR for the CD release) and Graeme
Revell's churning score, supports the story without being obtrusive. Some
of the source music dates back to the forties, given stereo presence by
some clever enhancement by Revell. (This is briefly discussed on the
commentary track). There's one outstanding scene, a brief storm, but
otherwise the mix is not especially flashy. Often the audio is rather raw,
and obviously wasn't recorded under ideal circumstances.
The dual-layered disc is very nicely
authored. The menu design is simple and efficient, and fits in nicely with
the film. Transitions between menu screens, and between the menus and the
film, are smooth, and not too annoying.
The layer change (at 62'40" approx) is
slightly disruptive, and interrupts a music cue. Different players will
handle the change with various degrees of finesse, however, so your
experience may be different.
It's not immediately obvious, but the
chapter index is broken down into two screens: the first has conventional
titles Departure, Hotel and Boat (listed in reverse
order, for some reason); the second is linked to from a fourth chapter
heading, Open Water, which takes you to an index of the film's
various time-stamps, which cover the rest of the film. That's not a lot of
chapter marks, but the film's only seventy-seven minutes long, so it's not
The disc has been authored so that it
doesn't allow bookmarking, by players that offer the function.
THE BONUS MATERIAL
The UK DVD, from Redbus, has been created
with one eye on making it more attractive than importing a version from
another region, and some of the bonus features have been made especially
for this version.
The film is supported by a commentary
track, by Kentis, his wife, producer Laura Lau, Ryan and Travis. It's
an engaging track, made by a team that's obviously developed a close
relationship (the film was shot over the space of two years, so they had
plenty of time to bond - not to mention the obvious mutual hardships
experienced during the filming. Kentis defends some of the criticism the
film has received, saying that people who don't have experience of diving
sometimes don't understand what motivates the characters at certain points
in the film. There are a few amusing stories - for example, they recall
how Susan and Daniel (the leading characters) were almost "rescued" by a
passing ship that the filmmaker's, seizing on a chance to add to their
production values, decided to incorporate into the story.
The Indie Essentials - Gearing Up For A
Marketable Movie (5m)
Interviews with the suits at Lions Gate
Films about what they're looking for when aspiring filmmakers come in to
try to sell their movie, and some words of advice from the film's
Calm Before The Storm - Making of Open
Interviews and behind-the-scenes footage,
explaining how the film began (the producers saw the opportunities
low-cost digital video camera technology offered, and, as keen dive
enthusiasts, created a script - initially called Blue Desert -
tailor-made for the new format). Kentis also explains why they wanted to
use unknown actors, and how the script evolved during the rehearsal
process. Amazingly, the film was shot while Kentis was still working a
normal nine-to-five job (some of his colleagues didn't even know he was
making a movie!) He also explains how screenings at various festivals
helped shape the film.
Beneath The Surface - The Making of Open
This featurette, presented in anamorphic
widescreen format, looks like it was made for the UK. It features
interviews with Kentis, his wife, producer Laura Lau, Ryan and Travis.
Two minutes of British radio adverts
promoting "the UK's number one hit".
TV Spots & Trailers
A compilation of UK TV ad's and trailers,
and one that seems to be a US theatrical trailer (5m)
Deleted Scenes (9m)
Nine minutes of scenes sensibly excised
from the film. Although there are a few nice character moments, some of
the sequences are rather tiresome. There are seven scenes in total:
Alternate Opening (with Music) -
This version opens with [SPOILER - Click and drag to view]
a shot of an empty wetsuit being washed up
on shore, and then flashes back to
Susan and Daniel arriving at their hotel. The filmmakers were wise to
change this, because, even though it's shot obliquely, it would still be
recognisable to many audience members.
Hanging At The Pool - random shots
of Susan and Daniel, and other hotel residents, lounging by - and in - the
pool. No dialogue.
We Really Need A Vacation - Susan
finding it difficult to escape work,
and Daniel urging her to take a break. Another nice character moment, and
a release of tension between them.
Into The Sunset - A longer version
of the scene where Susan and Daniel stroll along the shore, this time with
dialogue, about their wedding plans.
Eye Contact - An intimate moment
with Susan and Daniel, lying next to each-other.
The Morning of the Dive - an
extended version of the scene where Daniel and Susan wake up.
Self-indulgent shots of the ceiling fan, and a few minutes of Daniel
packing for their trip.
Susan's Not Responding - a very
short sequence from late in the film, where Susan has passed out.
White Shark Mode
A Follow-The-White-Rabbit mode.
Unless it's mentioned on the packaging, there's no explanation as to what
this is: the disc authors have assumed that DVD buyers are familiar enough
with the concept by now. With this switched on, at various times during
the film a shark logo appears. Pressing the enter button while this is on
screen will take you to a short interview clip (shot at the same time as
the Beneath The Surface material), sometimes intertwined with
behind-the-scenes material. The clips are generally very short - a couple
of minutes or less. Some of this material is repeated elsewhere.
Naturally, this wouldn't be a problem if you used this mode when watching
the film again after some time had elapsed. Unfortunately there doesn't
seem to be any way of accessing this material any other way (other than
messing around with title / chapter browsers).
Open Water is a slick, high-concept
thriller. The film was shot on DV, which may have contributed to a
less-than spectacular DVD transfer. The bonus material is solid, and
worthwhile. Redbus has created some unique content for the UK disc, and
this should be a factor when potential customers make their buying