Chris Kentis’ “Open Water” surfaced as a surprise hit in 2004, drawing comparisons to another effective horror flick shot “on the cheap”, “The Blair Witch Project”. Both films sport cinema vérité’ style production values, grimmer than grim conclusions, and, oddly enough, sequels that cost several times the budgets of the original films. Much like “Book of Shadows” the much (unfairly) maligned Blair Witch sequel, “Open Water 2: Adrift” abandons the gritty digital cameras in favor of the glossier look of film (or something very close to it).
Adrift opens on a young couple driving along the coast of “Mexico” (actually Malta), en route to a birthday celebration aboard rich pal Dan’s (Dane) luxury yacht. Amy (Pratt) has a near-paralyzing fear of the ocean, but boards the yacht anyhow, along with her husband Jim (Speight Jr.) and their infant daughter, Sarah. Their friend Zach (Lange) is the birthday boy, and Zach’s unrequited love, Lauren (Hillis), and Dan’s latest plaything, Michelle (Richardson) round out the roster of revelers. The friends sail out into the great blue, drop sail, and decide to take a dip in the ocean. Dan, meanwhile, decides to help cure Amy of her fear of the sea by grabbing her in her arms and jumping into the water with her, neglecting to put down the boat’s ladder, and leaving our heroes to drift aimlessly around the hull, looking for a way back onboard.
I actually liked the concept of Open Water 2: Adrift, and found it even a little more harrowing than Kentis’ original. The fact that salvation is literally floating right there before the very eyes of the victims, yet, despite their best efforts, is completely out of reach, seems even crueler than the fate which befell the two divers in Open Water. However, I never really learned to care about any of these characters (and grew to hate some of them), so I found myself somewhat nonplussed about the entire situation, and, instead, rubbed my hands together in anticipation of the arrival of the sharks.
But they never came.
That’s right, folks. There are no sharks here. No sharks, no eels, no manta rays; hell, there’s not even a slightly menacing jellyfish. People hit their heads on things, get cut by their own knives, or succumb to tired arms and legs. This isn’t a man versus nature movie; this is a man versus his own stupidity movie. For example, the group disrobes and makes a rope out of their clothes. Good idea!! Then they opt to have the biggest guy in their group climb the rope instead of one of the exceptionally skinny young women amongst them. Bad idea!! Of course, said rope snaps, and they are back to square one. This is just one of several bad decisions made by the group, and one of many reasons I found myself cheering on their demise.
While Adrift isn’t the smartest film, it is a competently made one, and was much better than I originally thought it would be, but, then again, I thought it was going to be horrible and, in the end, it was merely “okay”. It lacks the visceral thrills of the original, but, to be honest, it's fairly obvious that Adrift wasn't even meant as a sequel to Open Water. The making-of featurette never mentions the original film, and, during the making-of’s credit sequence, the title card reads “The Making of Adrift”. The writer and director talk about their collaboration, the story upon which the film was based, and the location they shot the film in, but no one ever says the words “Open Water”, which makes me think this was one of those deals where Lionsgate acquired a film it wasn't quite sure what to do with, and, in an attempt to cash-in on one of their established properties, slapped its name on it. b. In that respect, I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to the original Open Water when the only thing the two films share is the theme of being lost at sea. However, seeing as how it is being billed as a sequel whether or not it was ever intended to be one demands that such unfair comparisons be made.
If one views Open Water 2: Adrift as a standalone film, however, without any connection to Kentis’ original, they’ll be rewarded with a moderately entertaining human drama flick marred by troublesome logistics. However, anyone going in expecting the white knuckle thrills (and sharks!!!) of Open Water will find themselves left high and dry.
Lionsgate presents the film along with the aforementioned featurette, trailers, and more.