Monday, August 14, 2006


You know, this movie really gave me pause for thought. I was shocked to realize it was released three years ago already. Directed by Chris Kentis and starring David Travis and Blanchard Ryan, it is a study in the essential wrongness of the human species. Maybe that's not true for the human viewer, but for a fish, yikes!

For one thing, I realized for the first time while watching this, how radically out of touch humans have gotten with the oceans, only THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE ON EARTH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. They still love it, want to live next to it, splash in it, boat, swim, surf, boogie-board, do water aerobics, snorkel, scuba...but they still don't see that it's HOME, the place WHERE WE ALL COME FROM and the place WHERE WE ARE ALL HEADED. Maybe I lacked this insight up to now because I was born part fish and never doubted my destiny. But it explains a lot about why recruiting can be so difficult. And maybe I understand a little more about why the landscum are willing to live in deserts and on arid mountaintops and sun-scorched prairie. THEY REALLY THINK THEY ARE LAND ANIMALS.

This movie explains in graphic detail how alienated humans have become from their true home, the beach. These two people -- charmingly named Watkins and Kintner -- have to pay to travel to get to the ocean, then pay again to go out on the water, because they don't know their way around and have to hire a guide with a boat. Astounding! Why, back in the day humans knew the bottom of their stretch of ocean better than they knew the tree-lined valleys miles from their sleeping caves. Why? BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE THEY SPENT MOST OF THEIR TIME, LIVING IN OUR WORLD, CATCHING US IN THEIR TEETH. Renewing their relationship with their true home daily, they never feared the water.

Look at them now. Watkins and Kintner go out there with a tour group, armed with all kinds of special gear to help them survive in an element that spawned them in the first place. Wetsuits, swimfins, snorkel masks, weight belts, seasick pills, knives, cameras, lights, and of course compressed air tanks with the attached breathing gadgets. Can't they just LOOK IN THE MIRROR and see their greasy, spindle-shaped, hairless bodies (except for the tufts of hair remaining for the use of clinging babies and pheromone dispersal), paddle-shaped hands and feet, blubbery undercoating to preserve heat in the water, on and on, and FIGURE IT OUT?

I guess they can't. Amazing.

I never realized, before seeing this film, what it must be like to be up at the surface all the time, too scared to dive and stay underwater and stay until your breath is gone, because you think you're a land animal. It means you're forced to ride the waves up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and suddenly you're upchucking. I left the theater feeling seasick myself, and I stayed that way for a couple DAYS. This is what, for me, made Open Water a horror movie. It only renews my determination to save these wretched, greasy-haired, bad-smelling mammmals unhappy creatures from their life sentences up on dry land.

It also says a lot to me that the ad people tried to sell this as a killer Shark movie. The trailers said something about two helpless divers stranded in "shark-infested waters." "Infested"? THAT's nice. For your information, Shaved Monkeys, all the oceans of the world are SUPPLIED with Sharks to KEEP THINGS CLEANED UP. YOU certainly aren't doing it. For crying out loud, a boat comes out to a heavily-inhabited coral reef, drops off some garbage as usual, and leaves. THE SHARKS TAKE THE HINT. What are you complaining about?

And yet, I want you all to notice something NONE OF THE HUMANS SAW: The sharks waited politely, for hours or days, until they were sure the humans floating miles from shore were really intended as free meat. Watkins and Kintner got the message about their changed status immediately when they realized the boat had left without them, but they had no way to communicate this to the Sharks. So the Sharks waited and watched. Even after one of them took an experimental nip out of Kintner's leg, and he was bleeding into the water, the Sharks REFUSED to go into the feeding frenzy dictated by every Shark movie since time out of mind. They still weren't sure. THIS IS HOW SHARKS REALLY BEHAVE, even the supposedly ferocious Blacktips featured in this movie. I also want to point out that these were Sharks of the average size found in most waters since Jaws set off the worldwide slaughter of these lovely creatures. No fifty-footers here; just a well-mannered group of Blacktips three feet or less in length.

Maybe that's why so many humans left this movie disappointed. They wanted to see someone flailing in the bloody foam, surrounded by dozens of circling fins, in the very first scene. SORRY, SUCKERS. I see it as a blow struck against Shark defamation, but WILL ANYONE GET THE POINT?

I need to add, before we part for today, that the photo above was appropriated from a site called I avoid help a bitter pang of regret that I didn't think of the name first. That's the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.


Blogger Ur-spo said...

You sure can see things from a different angle; it is always an enjoyment to read your reviews.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Merricat said...

Wow, great review. I wish I were a fish, too. Can I join?

5:29 PM  
Blogger Cliffie, The Lemming Girl said...

Gee, thanks, you guys. Merricat: Just keep eating that tuna-noodle casserole. You'll be one of us before you know it.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

It seems that this guy had a shot at recreating the fiction that was the movie based on a true story.

Cheers from wrongtown

12:03 AM  

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