A lot of people – myself included – have summed up the new film Open Water as “Blair Witch meets Jaws.” This is a pretty easy analysis, but it still misses the point that there have been many “lost at sea” thrillers. And, while some audiences decide to see Open Water over the next few weeks, I want to remind everyone about a classic that shouldn’t be forgotten … Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944).
Featuring an impressive ensemble, Hitchcock’s portrait of human desperation and tension in the middle of the sea is 10 times more gripping than anything in the 75 minutes of Open Water. While Lifeboat has moments of painful American propaganda (it was made and released during WWII after all), there’s a sensational battle of emotions on display.
After an attack at sea, a group of survivors (including star Tallulah Bankhead) find refuge on a tiny lifeboat and try to make it to safety. Meanwhile, they discover a foreign survivor that may or may not be involved with the enemy. The entire thing takes place on the boat. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do but be afraid of each other. The audience becomes familair with the characters, given great performances by a wonderful cast.
So, make sure to remember Lifeboat this weekend. It may not be the direct ancestor to Open Water, but it certainly packs the same kind of terror, only in the classic Hitchcock fashion.