DVD Review – ‘Open Water 2: Adrift’

     February 15, 2007

Reviewed by Aaron Roxby

Released in 2003, Open Water was one of those indy films that made up for it’s inadequacies with it’s gritty, experimental style and excellent premise. Based on the true story of two divers, accidentally abandoned in the middle of the ocean, shot on DV and featuring real, untrained sharks, it managed to elicit tension and suspense, despite having a pretty weak script.

Open Water 2: Adrift was released last year. While itmaintains the “Damp yuppies yell at eachother” premise, the sequel is missing much of what made the first film unique. This time out, they triple the number of irritating white people unlucky enough to be on mighty Poseidon’s shit-list. Three couples get together for a weekend ofnautical fun aboard a yacht in the Gulf of Mexico. You have Amy (Susan Mary Pratt, The Substitute 2: School’s Out), a new mother who is terrified of water but still decides to bring her infant daughter Sara (Some baby) aboard, her doofy husband James (Richard Speight Jr., Band of Brothers ), Lauren (Ali Hillis, Must Love Dogs), who is… well she is female, Zach (Niklaus Lange, Legally Blonde), who is… well he smokes a lot (Apparently these two characters are supposed tobe long time friends who have been secretly carrying a torch for one another. I know this because someone mentions it in the special features, not because the film ever gives you any indication), Dan (Eric Dane, Gray’s Anatomy), the owner of the boat, a millionaire with a deep secret and pretty much the king of all annoying WASPy jackasses and, finally, Michelle (Cameron Richardson, National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze ), hisnew bimbogirlfriend.

After the federally mandatedtwentyfivepages of poor character development and premise set up, disaster strikes when, and I am being totally serious here, they all jump off of the boat and forget to put down the ladder. The sides of the boat are just barely too high to allow them to climb back aboard and so they are stuck, inches from salvation and surrounded by miles of angry sea. Matters are made worse by the fact that baby Sara is still aboard the boat and far too young to feed herself, let alone throw out a damn life preserver.

While I wish that the following information had been relayed to men prior watching this movie, it does sort of give something away, thus I am going to have to preface this next bit with my first ever…


There are absolutely no sharks in Open Water 2. Not one. Something swims by someone’s leg at one point, but it is never actually shown to be a shark. I bring this up, simply because I was really looking forward to a nice shark attack movie when I put this in and on that front, the movie fails completely.

End Spoiler.

Still, the movie does manage to build feelings of dread, tension and fear. Like the first film, Open Water 2 gets a lot of mileage out of how desperate and believable the situation is. The fact that the boat is right there, salvation just barely out of reach, creates a palpable sense of frustration. When death does come to the characters it is usually in a relatively unexpected way.

However, aside from the premise, Adrift fails to capture any of what made the first film intriguing. Where as the first film sported an almost documentary feel, director Hans Horn (The Last Bomb) never met a cinematic trick he didn’t love. While the film is at times very pretty, it really feels just like any other modestly budgeted, foreign funded, straight to video thriller. Horn seems to have absolutely zero faith in his audience. Every emotional scene is accompanied by slow motion, every thrilling moment by an overbearing score. Frequent flashbacks also serve to distance the viewer from proceedings. While the characters in Open Water felt like a real (albeit irritating) couple, Adrift’s doomed mariners are pure stock movie characters. Each character’s arc is immediately obvious from the first moment that they step on screen. The actors are perfectly serviceable, given what they had to work with, and as a pretty major plot point involves all of them getting nude, they are all sufficiently attractive. On this note, cinematographer Bernhard Jasper (Tsunami) impresses with his ability to keep male gentiles just out of frame, even during underwater action scenes.

Video / Audio / Extras

The video transfer is sub par at best. Open Water 2 has several dark underwater shots. They are pretty severely pixilated. The bright scenes fair a bit better, but are far from spectacular. This is unfortunate. As I mentioned before, there is some very pretty cinematography here. The audio fares much better, giving all 5.1 speakers a healthy workout.

You get one extra: The Making of Open Water 2 featurette. It is, frankly, one of the worst EPK behind the scenes documentaries I have ever seen. It consists of the actors, director and one of the writers basically just giving a scene by scene rundown of the movie, inter-cut with long scenes from the movie. It cuts off abruptly about halfway through this synopsis.

Final Words

The title is this movie’s cross to bear. If it had simply been called Adrift, it would have stood out as a slightly better than average straight to video thriller. Making it a sequel invites comparison to the first film and, in this respect, it simply cannot stand up. I also have to mention that Adrift makes very little sense as a title here, sub or main, as the whole plot revolves around the characters being stuck in one place around an anchored ship.

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