August 27, 2004: Headlines: COS - Tuvalu: Scuba: Movies: Crime: News-Sun: Sharks not flocking to 'Open Water'

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tuvalu: Special Report: The loss of Tuvalu RPCVs Tom and Eileen Lonergan: August 27, 2004: Headlines: COS - Tuvalu: Scuba: Movies: Crime: News-Sun: Sharks not flocking to 'Open Water'

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 10:35 am: Edit Post

Sharks not flocking to 'Open Water'

Sharks not flocking to 'Open Water'

Sharks not flocking to 'Open Water'

Sharks not flocking to 'Open Water'

"Open Water" is being compared to the sleeper horror hit, "The Blair Witch Syndrome" -- and probably for good reason.

Add them both to the gross disease movies "28 Days Later" and "Cabin Fever," and you might guess that the horror genre is going in a new direction -- away from the fantasy monsters of the past and on to more reality-based spine-tinglers.

Both "Blair Witch" and "Open Water" target those who fear the outdoors. How high your personal horror meter rises will depend on how comfortable you are with the natural world.

If you go into spasms at the site of a spider, both movies will make you run for the exit. But if you like the outdoors and you accept that nature is indifferent to your survival, you may very well be indifferent to these movies.

Undoubtedly, "Open Water" -- the darling of last year's Sundance film festival -- is the better of the two, considering that it is based on a true story instead of the hilariously ridiculous premise that drove "Blair Witch." While I don't hyperventilate at the thought of being lost in the woods, I will confess that the idea of being abandoned in the middle of the ocean and terrorized by sharks has kept me a landlubber all of my life.

That's what happened to the pair of Peace Corps workers who inspired "Open Water." When Tom and Eileen Lonergan were left behind while diving with a tour boat along Australia's Great Barrier Reef, they were never heard from again. And even though the diving industry is bending over backwards to assure audiences that these kinds of accidents are as frequent as Haley's Comet, I believe that, if they did happen, the outcome would be much like "Open Water" presents it.

Here, Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) are a stressed-out yuppie couple who take an impromptu vacation to a tropical paradise. They go to some tourist hot spot, although "Open Water" never tells you where -- and wisely so. If any tourist-dependent, ocean-locked country had been associated with this movie, you would be hearing the screams all the way to the North Pole.

Susan and Daniel lounge around for a day and then decide to go on a scuba dive. After a morning of frolicking among the colorful, friendly sea life, they surface to find that their tour boat is nowhere in sight.

Did they swim too far and miss their mark or were they mistakenly forgotten? The couple has plenty of time to contemplate those questions as the hours drag on and no one arrives to claim them.

"Open Water" rings with emotional truth as it chronicles the dissolution of Susan and Daniel's mental state. Good humor and a can-do attitude give way to exasperation, exhaustion, anger, hysteria and despair. As fearful as it is to see them floating alone in the ocean -- with nary a sign of salvation in sight -- it's just as disturbing to see them losing their will to battle the inevitable.

And then there's the shark problem. The sharks lurk about, appearing and disappearing unpredictably, and swimming too close to this couple for comfort.

Here, writer/director Chris Kentis rattles the nerves most effectively through chilling camera work. In his best shots, it appears that the camera is partially submerged so you can see the couple bobbing above the surface while sharks the size of a PT Cruiser circle below their feet.

In terms of numbers and screen time, though, the sharks are skimpy. Although some critics have been hailing "Open Water" as the scariest shark movie since "Jaws," the sharks are so few that I would have a hard time even calling "Open Water" a shark movie. If you're expecting sharks to arrive like flocks of crows in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," you're in for a letdown.

The story is thin as well. At 1 hour, 19 minutes, "Open Water" is short for a feature film, but it still takes a good 20 minutes to get this couple from their house to the dive site without developing the characters. Not having a reason to care about these people certainly makes the horror of their situation easier to bear.

For most of this movie, I was more concerned about how the actors were making out than what was in store for the fictional couple they were portraying. If there were an Oscar for "Best Nerves of Steel," I would give it to Ryan and Travis for even thinking about making a movie that involved being stalked by sharks, must less climbing into wetsuits and swimming with them.

Released by Lions Gate Films, "Open Water" is rated R for language and some nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. It is playing at Lakeshore Cinema 8 in Lakeshore Mall, Sebring; 471-1179.

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: News-Sun

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tuvalu; Scuba; Movies; Crime



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