Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
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  1. Without doubt one of the scariest, creepiest, gut-churningly unsettling pictures to come along in ages.
  2. Worth a dozen "Blair Witch Projects," with much more harrowing psychology and pithy dialogue. It's a bone-chilling plunge into no-holds-barred storytelling.
  3. The nagging desire to help these people underscores the involvement of the audience in this superbly told story. You can almost taste the saltwater, and the fear.
  4. In spirit, Open Water reduces us to children peering through our fingers, waiting for the horrid deliverance we're not quite sure we want to see.
  5. 88
    The ending -- a more devastating surprise than "The Village" could manage -- caps eighty sweat-job minutes of imaginative, jolting suspense.
  6. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    Open Water may not be a pristine or complex suspense thriller, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anything else as terrifyingly potent in such a tiny package.
  7. 88
    Rarely, but sometimes, a movie can have an actual physical effect on you. It gets under your defenses and sidesteps the "it's only a movie" reflex and creates a visceral feeling that might as well be real. Open Water had that effect on me.
  8. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    A tour-de-force thriller that deftly transforms its low-budget limitations into spectacular assets.
  9. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    Superlative chiller.
  10. 80
    Rarely have the dangers of drifting apart been given such a visceral and genuinely upsetting emotional wallop.
  11. Terrifying precisely because it doesn't go in for cheesy shock tactics and special effects. (Those sharks are REAL.)
  12. 75
    It offers genuine scares and chills without the self-aware, packaged feel of many horror/thriller films.
  13. Reviewed by: Sid Smith
    A slow drip, but one all the more intense for its Gothic minimalism and its underlying parable of naturalistic determinism: It's no fun to fool with Mother Nature.
  14. 75
    While immersed in the horror of their plight, you might forget to breathe.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    There's more terror than entertainment here, though. I've seen a lot of movies in my life I couldn't wait to see end; this may be the first good one.
  16. The year's most unsettling movie experience - and in this case, that's a very good thing.
  17. 75
    A fascinating experiment in both filmmaking technology and narrative style, but one that can be counted a success only in limited ways.
  18. Could develop a cult following. But it is hard to envision repeat viewings or any great number of people willing, even vicariously, to undergo the couple's ordeal.
  19. An expertly made suspense thriller based on an actual incident, but on a visceral level it's about as much fun as watching someone pull the wings off a butterfly.
  20. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    Open Water, which was made for $130,000 -- and seemingly without special-effects assistance -- proves you don't have to have a big budget to have an audience on the edge of its seat.
  21. 70
    Kentis and Lau succeed in doing what all filmmakers worth their salt strive to do: They make us care about their characters.
  22. 63
    Unlike "Jaws," Open Water isn't much for traditional popcorn-movie scares. Instead, the movie is more interested in depicting the gradual deterioration of its protagonists' sanity, and how that affects their relationship.
  23. The actors are unknowns, but Ryan does a lot with her little downturned mouth. There are as many shades of anxiety as there are shades of blue in the sea, and Ryan manages to find them all.
  24. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Open Water is a stunt, one you either buy into or not.
  25. The movie is also banal in ways that are irritating and second-rate.
  26. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    Every hour that ticks by your stomach drops a little more as the outlook becomes more bleak.
  27. It's moderately compelling drama, but also fairly static stuff, image-wise.
  28. The sharks are scary, and the ocean is vast and indifferent, but the most effective parts of Open Water, which is ultimately too modest to be very memorable, evoke a deeper terror, one that can chill even those viewers who would never dream of putting on a wet suit and jumping off a boat.
  29. 60
    The film's dispassionate examination of the shifts in Susan and Daniel's relationship as they drift from irritation to barely suppressed panic is at least as nerve wracking.
  30. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    This isn’t your average against-the-odds survival story.
  31. 50
    Writer-director Chris Kentis has dreamed up an ingenious premise, but he botches its execution. Every once in a while, the film stumbles upon a twist that ratchets up the tension, but then haphazardly discards it.
  32. Reviewed by: Bill White
    By no means a good movie. Although based on a true story, the mathematical error that led to Daniel and Susan's predicament is handled with such dramatic slovenliness that the viewer is apt to be confused as to what actually happened.
  33. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    This is not to say that it is bad writing, shooting, or acting: It would need to be more ambitious to be bad. It is simply the most mundane sort of behavior presented in the most mundane sort of way.
  34. I longed for something - anything - unexpected to occur. What I wouldn't have given for Wilson, the "Cast Away" volleyball, to float past with his bloody "face" print grinning at the pair!
  35. 40
    Open Water is just one tedious scene stretched out to feature length. It's terrifying all right, but only for what it says about the extents to which a couple of hungry actors and a bullish director will go to turn themselves into overnight celebrities.
  36. 40
    Ultimately, it's 79 minutes of footage of a pair of petty, pretty people freaking out over having to go to the bathroom in their wetsuits, and in the end you find yourself rooting for the sharks.
  37. 30
    Open Water is simply a stunt--hopelessly literal-minded and cheap in every sense.
  38. These dramatic shortfalls make us merely worried that two human beings are in danger, but not two compelling souls. There's your missing ingredient, the human X-factor.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 110 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 65
  2. Negative: 36 out of 65
  1. Apr 28, 2012
    I am very disappointed of people's comments about this movie. Some even compare it with JAWS, which makes no sense, because apart from theI am very disappointed of people's comments about this movie. Some even compare it with JAWS, which makes no sense, because apart from the fact that both have sharks involved in each story, they are totally different movies. Open Water is a thriller while Jaws is a monster movie -not really horror as many affirm- which attempts to create fear...and to me it fails. I definitely like Open Water much more than Jaws. Jaws was perhaps the first blockbuster. The idea was appealing and with the aid of a mechanical shark that we only see once, creates a feeling of danger. Nonetheless, the story itself is weak, and silly. The performances are feeble. Nobody cares about the characters for they are fake. I remember when I was a child I liked Jaws but recently I watched again and almost felt asleep. There were movies great movies that also involved animals (i.e The Birds) so Jaws has no excuse. Open Water, on the other side, is pure realism! I am an Australian, thus, I always hear stories about sharks. In fact, I know people who continually dive along the Great Barrier Reef. None of them believe the JAWS is a smart movie while they agree that Open Water shows some of the dangers that they as professional divers face in real life. The smallest mistake can change their lives.

    Moreover, Open Water, goes beyond the issue of sharks. The presence of sharks is indeed an important element of the movie but the core of this film is the situation itself. It is therefore, not a shark movie! This film explores the feelings of those involved in the story and smartly takes us to their world. We see when, how, and why such feelings develop. We feel for them, understand them, and wish we had the ways to help them. Furthermore, the sporadic jokes that the characters make to each other when the the situation becomes clear, and when the tangible threat is perceived, are not stupid; on the opposite, it adds realism. Many of us, under very stressful, desperate, hopeless, and/or frightening, circumstances tend to joke about them; it is a way to cheer us up and distract from those negative feelings; same there. I also love the scene when Daniel starts screaming, what a touching moment! Great performance. It was a totally believable: a desperate yell! There was frustration, despair, anger, sorrow, anguish, desolation; all those feelings together in that particular scene. Powerful!

    Since the beginning when they are in bed and she is naked, and they are just chatting. It happens to be a very smart scene, for it actually helps to create a feeling of reality and it succeeds; hat is why I don't get why people have issues with that scene. Aren't we naked on a daily basis?. If some didn't understand certain moments or the ending, they may need to watch the movie again and more carefully. If they still don't find the answer,...well, it doesn't mean it is not there, for to many of us the movie is as clear as crystal. Finally, If you haven't watched it, please do it, and take into account what I say, so open your mind to the experience...I don't think you will regret it...and if you do, at least you gave it a go.
    Full Review »
  2. retroboy
    Nov 7, 2007
    This was not stuped but boring this was the big ghahona of crapy story lines this was sooo boring this is ther CRAPEST MOVE EVER.
  3. J.F.
    Feb 1, 2006
    Its understandable that many people did not like this movie. The low-budgetness is distracting at times, and you do come into it expecting a Its understandable that many people did not like this movie. The low-budgetness is distracting at times, and you do come into it expecting a thriller/horror/shark movie... but it's really the immature ones (like you people that say "Very boring!") who will come out of it saying that it sucked. You have to be able to appreciate intimate and low-key scenes, which this movie is full of. You have to be able to let yourself go and put yourself in the situation that the characters are in. If you can do that, and forget about the low-budget camera, you'll see what a great movie it actually is. Full Review »