I don’t know what I thought of “Open Water 2” in the end. I mean everyone knows by now that it’s not technically a sequel, just another movie that was branded “Open Water 2” but it makes its connection to the first film pretty much incidentally. As “Adrift” this is a hellish and grueling thriller that’s reliant of course on paranoia, elemental danger, and being marooned in an area with no hope of rescue or miracles. I’m a huge fan of the original movie “Open Water,” which is one of the most underrated and excruciating experiences ripped from the headlines that translated well. “Adrift” is along the same themes involving a group of friends who go yachting and find themselves in the middle of the ocean stuck in the water after forgetting to pull down the ladder on the boat. As the hours wage on, character Amy’s newborn daughter is still aboard starving and suffering from the heat, and now the folks have to find a way to get on the boat before she dies.
“Adrift” keeps the tension and suspense competently brisk and most of the time I felt a sense of sheer urgency and anxiousness hoping someone would help out the baby left on the boat. Hans Horn keeps the tension always thick as the underlying anger and resentment among the cast of characters already worsens a horrible situation once all seems loss and the unearthing of secrets and aggression begins to take away while the water ravages the victims. Horn constantly pans in the child left aboard the ship crying and flailing helplessly and it makes the tone all the more frantic as main character Amy is faced with the possibility that she may die in the water and never get to save her daughter who is on the verge of starving to death.
Horn’s film has some very good set pieces, along with interesting characterization on the small group of unfulfilled and spiteful adults, and I was entertained. One of the more pressing issue of “Open Water 2” or “Adrift” or whatever it’s called is the fact that the writers seem to press for ambiguity out of conflicting emotions. I love ambiguity when it’s placed in a movie with clever and witty implementation, but the writers here can never stick by their guns when placing the big question mark in the climax. Simply, the ambiguity in the final scenes came off more as confusing and cowardice on the writers parts who didn’t seem to know whether they wanted to end the film on a sad or hopeful note.
I originally saw this as a way to deviate from the first film, but remembering that this wasn’t initially a sequel, I then realized that the writers just didn’t know how to end this. After all the screaming, all the fighting, all the blood we’re suddenly given a happy ending, that’s then turned into a sad ending, and then a huge “What the hell just happened?” ending that’s both hazy and utterly mind numbing. I love it when movies leave behind mystery, but there’s almost too much dependence on audiences imaginations and filling in the gaps to take it with a healthy dose of trust, because the final scenes are so hastily put together that you can never tell what’s real and what’s all possibly supernatural. As for the water marooning of our survivors, there’s not a single death in the water that wasn’t caused by anything in the water.
No one drowns, no one is eaten by sharks, and characters are killed by forced methods including a head to a propeller, while another is conveniently stabbed for purposes that are too idiotic to gloss over. The characters here, pretty much like the characters in the former film, are idiots, and idiots in which they simply don’t find the most obvious answer to this dilemma from the get go. My dad, who is a sea going chap, spent the entire movie screaming a solution at the characters and eventually just walked off angrily when it was finally accomplished two minutes from the closing credits. “Adrift” is filled with too much idiocy to endure sometimes, and it’s tough to root for characters so void of sense. It’s not as good as “Open Water,” when all is said and done, but as an unofficial sequel, “Adrift” is an intense and engrossing but ultimately very flawed film that’s just passable enough for one viewing.