Susan May Pratt
Richard Speight Jr.
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4th Sep 06
Six friends jump off a yacht.
Review ”We’re going to need a bigger boat” is the infamous line from Spielberg’s peril-at-sea classic Jaws, and while that may be true for Hooper, Quint and Brody in their attempt to catch Bruce, the opposite applies to Hans Horn’s debut feature Adrift, where six friends soon realise they would have been much better off with a far smaller boat indeed. See? Bigger isn’t always better.
It’s Zach’s birthday, so to celebrate, Dan has invited his old friends (plus new partners) to spend a weekend on his brand new yacht, the Godspeed. As well as birthday boy Zach and his girlfriend Lauren, we also have nubile Michelle (who has been with Dan for two weeks, four days…) and hydrophobic Amy with her husband James and baby daughter Sarah.
It takes Amy a moment to overcome her fear of water before boarding the yacht, but once aboard, the boat sets sail for sea breezes, bikinis, breast-shaped birthday cakes, and much partying from the old high-school friends. The yacht is soon anchored and four of the party dive in the water for a swim, leaving Dan, Amy and baby Sarah on board. However, when Dan tries to heal Amy’s fear of water by ”taking her to the circus” and jumping in the sea with her in his arms, the day takes a turn for the worse when they realise they have forgotten to lower the yacht’s steps and now have no way to get back on board…
Ok, comparison’s to 2004’s Open Water are inevitable here, so for what it’s worth, my opinion is that Adrift is a far more accomplished film than it’s predecessor. Sure, it may not have the indie-cool cred of the ultra-low-budget Open Water and the concept may not be as fresh now, but the addition of four extra characters into the bobbing up and down in water situation allows a lot more room for character interaction and dynamism.
You see, this time, the danger isn’t sharks, but the group themselves and how they react to their predicament. Initial ideas involving inflatable dolphins and climbing up the flag fail, and matters are made even worse when their only mobile phone gets too wet to use. With already complicated relationships (Dan used to go out with Amy, James is slightly jealous…), the ever-growing panic raises the group tension to a high as they get more and more desperate to get back on the yacht. Especially as only one of them has a knife.
Admittedly, if you stare at Adrift too hard, many plot holes emerge. For instance, a yacht that size would require a crew of at least five experienced sailors, of which none of our characters are. Also, surely a yacht that size would be equipped with a GPS system, which would highlight their position to the authorities. But hey, if you can look behind all the logical flaws, and just place yourself in the position of being trapped in open water, with no chance of getting back on board the boat, and no idea of when any rescue may come, the film is crafted well enough to send shivers down your spine.
Over-cooked editing, and basic plot flaws mean that it certainly doesn’t reach the heights (depths?) of the classic Jaws, yet all in all Adrift is a reasonably solidly made thriller set in the water, featuring a cast of six good-looking twenty-somethings who ”nude up” 45 minutes into the film. And if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat, whatever size, then you should definitely check this movie out.