Open Water 3: Cage Dive Blu-ray Review

Let Them Sink

The sharks are the most interesting character of Open Water 3: Cage Dive. That’s only because sharks can’t speak.

“People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals,” a quote from 1997’s Men in Black, always relevant, if rarely more so in cinema than Cage Dive. Two California dude-bros and an embarrassingly typecast blonde end up floating and stranded off Australia’s coast. They then railroad the most basic survival tactics. After they decide against swimming toward a rescue ship, Cage Dive loses its empathy. Later, when characters fight over a flare inside a life raft, there’s a wish the ensuing fire swallowed the trio. The sharks deserve an easy catch.

2003’s Open Water found a niche in the shark genre. The found footage paired with a true life scenario – a diving couple is trapped when their tour inadvertently strands them – didn’t beg for tension. It was organic. Open Water 2, the slightly less plausible sequel where dolts forget to lower their boat’s ladder, stuck to formula. Now the third one, where a freak wave traps a trio at sea while shark diving. Or, maybe the boat crew were desperate to cut these three off.

Gone is the true sense of found footage. Footage is found (the camera stuck in a reef) but then is edited together in a blasé documentary style. Who edited this isn’t stated. Snippets of news reports and interviews with ancillary characters cut away from the ocean drama. It’s a reprieve from dude-bros and the exploitative, lurid “live” camera fawning over bikinis.

Hours into the ordeal, the trio begin blaming one another for their problems. They just need to point at Megan

A few people end up munched by sharks, this after Cage Dive so clearly explains, “Shark attacks are 1 in 900 million occurrence.” Talk about bad luck. Sadly, none of them take Megan (Megan Peta Hall). Her shrill, obnoxious dialog houses the worst damsel traits. Hours into the ordeal, the trio begin blaming one another for their problems. They just need to point at Megan. She convinced them not to swim for the boat. She set off the flare. She’s stupid.

Both Jeff (Joel Hogan) and Josh (Josh Pottoff) fare poorly too. A love triangle surrounds the two. That’s Cage Dive’s extent of character development. Although brothers (visiting their Australian cousin), the two eventually duke it out over Megan while on the water. Then foreshadowing kills one of them. It’s a mercy killing, but primarily for the audience.

If found footage needs anything, it’s believability. Cage Dive doesn’t have it. Although undoubtedly difficult when on the water, performances still sag. There’s nothing natural in their line readings. It’s more of a robotic audiobook reading of writer/director/producer Gerald Rascionato’s first feature length script.

It’s pretty rough when 2017’s other sluggish trapped-in-a-shark-cage movie (how are there two of them?) 47 Meters Down is better. That one didn’t offer much either.

Video

Intended as footage taken from a consumer grade camera, the results certainly make that plausible. Dying in a low resolution fire, the jittery aliasing creeps in everywhere. This is on top of significant artifacting. Think more first-generation web-based HD than Blu-ray.

Most of Cage Dive bides time bobbing in the ocean. The source chokes on the waves, leaving behind artifacts. When night falls, the level of chunky noise only increases. Night vision is a call for banding; the same goes for the underwater shots.

Scenes of TV news fare better. Clarity is preserved at least. Documentary style talking head shots even pull out a touch of fine detail, even if it’s limited. Consider that part of the struggle to find the positives in Cage Dive.

Nighttime as sea does introduce true black. A bit color sprouts early, creating a natural palette. Nothing is done to saturate or otherwise break the illusion of found footage, other than the movie’s own actions.

Audio

Using the front soundstage for a majority of the audio, Cage Dive isn’t engaged with the surrounds. A bit of ambient ocean slips in on occasion. However, it’s minor and barely noticeable.

A touch of LFE happens quickly as the rogue wave topples the boat. Earlier at a party, the soundtrack catches on the low-end too. Like the video, this is a case of trying to find something to merit discussion.

Extras

Director Gerald Rascionato joins with his male stars, Joel Hogan and Josh Potthoff, for a commentary run. The five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette is better than most features of this length. Six deleted scenes and three outtakes – also deleted scenes – make up the bonus package.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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