horror movies “based on a true story”: Open Water

“Based on true events.”  Today we’ll look at this oft-used tagline for horror movies to examine the truth behind the shark attack movie “Open Water.”

What is true:

  • In 1998, a couple (Tom and Eileen Lonergan) went scuba diving and did not return because the boat crew did not take an accurate headcount.
  • They were discovered to be missing when a bag of their belongings was found on the boat.
  • Some of their gear washed up on shore.
  • Sometimes weird things are found in shark bellies.

What is not true:

  • No camera containing photos of the missing couple was found in a shark belly.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that the couple was eaten by sharks.

As with most other horror movies “based on a true story,” Open Water takes a true situation and imagines the most horrific possibility.  Most of the film deals with the emotions of a troubled couple (in the movie, the couple is just frustrated that they can’t spend enough time together; in real life, the diaries revealed that the husband had a “death wish”) as they realize they are stranded and most likely won’t be saved.

The verdict? The emotional truth is very likely close to what actually happened.  It is a horrific situation, even without the sharks.  Personally, any water where I can’t see the bottom makes me nervous, so the idea of being stranded out in open water like this freaks me out!

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