Open Water

Movie review by
Beth Pratt, Common Sense Media
Open Water Movie Poster Image
Intense relationship story isn't for kids.
  • R
  • 2004
  • 79 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 18+-year-old Written byeddie8108 July 24, 2010
sad stupid and scary
Adult Written byckallan April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byDa Review Man November 11, 2020

disturbing af

If you're afraid of one of the following:
-the ocean
Then Don't watch this movie. 14-15+
Teen, 13 years old Written byHereTo Review March 11, 2017

Its a good adrenaline rush

It has you watching more and making you want to pause the movie because that is how good it is.

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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