A group of friends spend the weekend on a yacht, but when they go swimming in the open sea, host Dan (Eric Dane) forgets to let down the ladder that would enable them to get back safely on deck. A long, deadly ordeal in the water ensues
For some reason, there’s a burgeoning sub-genre of ‘based on a true story’ horror movies: see Wolf Creek, They, Hostel and — most relevantly here — Open Water. They are all about folks on holiday or otherwise trespassing in a country or climate where they aren’t welcome, who suffer terribly for their daring.
In Adrift, uniquely, there’s no psychotic killer (or even a shark pack); just someone stupid making a terrible mistake which puts his small circle of friends in mortal jeopardy. The set-up is brisk and efficient, introducing an almost Big Chill bunch, and the crisis comes when the arrogant yacht-owner tries to cure heroine Amy (Susan May Pratt) of her fear of the water by plunging overboard with her, which threatens to doom all his friends to nasty, cold, watery deaths.
Though the personal stories feel like screenwriters’ inventions rather than real life, Adrift works when it concentrates on the simple, physical realities of these people’s plights, fates and behaviour under extreme stress. Shooting in widescreen and mostly at water-level — with only sparing use of undersea shots — director Hans Horn makes it all very beautiful, which emphasises the growing threat, and works hard with his young, good-looking, intrepid cast.
Youll spend the film pondering ways the characters might escape, and be equally frustrated and inspired by their attempts. A touch protracted, perhaps, but a solid suspense picture.