Open Water

  • Review Date: December 28, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Intense relationship story isn't for kids.
  • Review Date: December 28, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 79 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The only main character of color is the inept captain that inadvertently leaves the couple behind. Also, the couple are downright nasty to each other at times during their ordeal.


Intense peril, shark and jellyfish attacks (some blood) and death.


Shots of a naked woman lying in bed; she and her husband talk about having sex but end up not doing it.


The couple use lots of profanity in frustration at their situation.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some people at the hotel are shown drinking, but if you blink you would miss it.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie isn't for kids. Although it has been called a modern day Jaws, it isn't a shark movie at all -- the sharks are merely background characters here. This low-budget, dialogue-heavy indie is really about the complex relationship between a married couple, and it will bore teens who are expecting a fast-moving horror movie with high-tech special effects and lots of gore. There are scenes of intense peril that may be too much for sensitive kids. There are shark attacks and we see blood, but the extreme danger the characters face is worse than any actual violence we see. There is a scene in which the couple talks about having sex (we see the woman naked), but they decide not to go through with it. There's a lot of strong language (which isn't too surprising given the couple's dire circumstances). The ending may shock and upset some viewers.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

OPEN WATER is loosely based on the true story of a couple that was abandoned on a scuba trip in Australia. In this version, an overworked yuppie couple named Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) take a last-minute vacation to a Caribbean island when they realize they've started to drift apart and need to reconnect. They go on a scuba trip, and they have a great time exploring the eels and sharks beneath the surface. Unfortunately, the captain messes up the head count and the boat heads back to shore without Susan and Daniel. It takes a while for the couple to realize that they're stranded in the open sea, but it quickly sets in as they have to deal with stinging jellyfish, cold temperatures, nausea, leg cramps, dehydration, and deadly sharks. As time passes, more sharks begin to circle, and the chance that they're going to be rescued lessens, they fight, blame each other, and ultimately cling to each other, bound by hope and love.

Is it any good?


Open Water is definitely not for the Shark Tale crowd -- this is a very intense movie that is for adults only. Although the movie may appeal to teens who think it's a Jaws-like thriller, it's likely to disappoint them when they find out there are no fancy special effects or horror movie-like stylings.

It's ironic that it takes horrible circumstances to bring the couple back together, but the way they react reveals much about their marriage: Susan resents Daniel for not being ambitious, while Daniel resents Susan for always putting work first. Each blames the other for getting them in the predicament at hand, but they're really arguing about more than the current circumstances. As the situation becomes more dire and desperation sets in, they put the pettiness aside and lean on each other. The impending sense of doom is what makes this movie so disturbing -- the uncomfortable feeling one gets from watching these characters realize how bleak the situation has become is far worse than the sight of any blood or sharks floating around.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various reactions the couple have as they begin to understand how serious the situation is. Is it natural to assign blame at a time like this? How do the underlying problems in their marriage manifest when they find themselves stranded?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 6, 2004
DVD release date:December 28, 2004
Cast:Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein
Director:Chris Kentis
Run time:79 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some nudity

This review of Open Water was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written bydirecterdude123 July 24, 2009

not as good as i thought it would be

If teens like intense horror movies then this is not for then. this movie is not about the horror it is about the married couples relationship. A couple is stranded in the ocean and they fight with one and swear. Because this movie is low budget the camera is bouncy but the acting isn't bad. The end of the movie is unexpected and horrible! and it is still not worth sitting through. GO ELSE WHERE!!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Adult Written bya_rayment April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Adult Written bySonia Montejano April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

what happened?

I felt that movie drag on quite a bit.. i mean, they're floating in the water. Its almost pointless because you know the outcome. Don't take a kid who is afraid of the water!!


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?


What are the different ways that you access Common Sense Media ratings and information? (Check all that apply)

Essential Apps Guide