Region 2 Edition

Director:  Chris Kentis

Featuring:  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 a problem.

The disc has been authored so that it doesn't allow bookmarking, by players that offer the function.


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 producers.

Calm Before The Storm - Making of Open Water (16m)

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 Water (24m)

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.

Radio Spots

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 decision.












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