Dead in the Water (2001) from Tuna


Dead in the Water (2001) is a freshman effort at a thriller by Brazilian Gustavo Lipsztein (wrote, produced and directed). From the opening shot during the main titles, which is an absolutely fabulous harbor sunrise shot of Rio, I wanted to like this film. Several breathtaking scenery shots later, we see star Dominique Swain with her boyfriend in a clear, beautifully saturated scene. The premise was ok. Swain and her boyfriend are to go to their vacation home and work on their relationship, and their best friend is coming. Why? We never know. Her father insists she take the son of a rich Brazil business associate along and show him the ocean. So the four drive to the beach villa, and board a small cabin cruiser.

Swain and the boyfriend are having problems, the best friend really wants Swain, and Swain is not immune to the charms of the handsome Brazilian. At this point, what could have been a first rate romantic drama or comedy was turned into a terrible thriller. The boyfriend and his buddy go snorkeling, leaving Swain with the Brazilian. The two kiss, as much her idea as his, just as her boyfriend arrives back on the boat. The boyfriend knocks the Brazilian over-board, and drives off in the boat. When they finally return, the Brazilian is not to be found. It soon becomes every man (or woman) for himself, as they decide how to handle this death.


see the main commentary
At this point, I was still hoping for at least some real nudity, or a little more pace and excitement, but was disappointed on both accounts. Dominique does show most of one cheek as her ass tries to eat her bikini bottom, and the top of her breasts are visible as she bends forward, but no real nudity. In case the film looks appealing so far, it is time to stop reading, as the rest is a total spoiler. The boyfriend attempts suicide, then Dominique and the best friend decide the only way out of the predicament is to kill the boyfriend and blow up the boat. The best friend goes into the cabin and hits the despondent  boyfriend over the head with a fire extinguisher. Cut to boyfriend coming back on deck holding a knife in both hands, everything drenched in blood. Swain darts into the cabin, sees the best friend holding his intestines in, and oozing blood from the stomach, and says, "Are you ok?" This was so jarring that I had to pause the film to recover. After that, her strangling the best friend with a pillow, then kissing him, her stuffing a flare in a gas tank, jumping off the boat, and watching it explode when the engine starts, and the ending where, it seems the Brazilian is cavorting in a pool with a young woman who obviously rescued him from the water didn't even phase me.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

The photography is stunning, and Swain's looks are almost their equal, but the story went terribly wrong. IMDB readers say 6.2 of 10 based on 9 voters. There is nearly nothing else on the net about it. It seems to have had a theatrical release in Brazil, or at least a premiere, but is, I think, straight to vid here.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews on line

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 6.2 of 10


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D.  It looks fine, and the scenario had some potential, but even if you like thrillers, you will probably not care for this one.

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