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DEAD IN THE WATER (director/writer/producer: Gustavo Lipsztein; cinematographer: Marcelo Durst; editors: Kurt Bullinger/José Pulido; music: Heitor Pereira; cast: Henry Thomas (Jeff), Dominique Swain (Gloria), Scott Bairstow (Danny), Sebastian DeVicente (Marcos), José Wilker (Father), Renata Fronzi (Housekeeper); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Evan Astrowsky/Jay So; Lions Gate Films; 2002)
“Its unlikable stars are the kind of selfish twits that give selfish twits a bad name.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A straight-to-video release. Its cheesy storyline might explain why the no confidence vote for a theater release. “Dead” is a shallow action/melodrama set aboard a yacht along the Brazilian coast. Its unlikable stars are the kind of selfish twits that give selfish twits a bad name. Fledgling director and writer and coproducer Gustavo Lipsztein borrows his plotline about a pretty young woman on a boat being fought over by jealous men from a host of films and just keeps piling on twists that seem to lessen any chance of this being a cohesive film. Think “Dead Calm” or Roman Polanski’s “Knife in the Water,” only this film could barely tread water and it certainly couldn’t swim the distance with those other flicks.

Pretty blonde Gloria (Swain) is told by dad (Wilker) that she better take his wealthy business associate’s son Marcos (DeVicente) out for a boat ride as a favor because he’s dependent on his financial support during these hard times. Gloria planned to spend the day alone with her hunky financial trader boyfriend Danny (Bairstow), but yields to her dad’s wishes when he adds that Marcos has never seen the ocean before. Gloria takes Danny along and he brings along his best friend and former workplace colleague Jeff (Thomas). Danny has been living for the last two months in Gloria’s house, ever since he returned from Hong Kong and has been looking for another position.

Marcos speaks a broken English and claims little experience as a swimmer. An instant jealousy develops between the boys, as the sexy but shallow Gloria tempts them all attired in her skimpy bikini while stretching out her tight bod on the deck as her long blonde hair waves in the breeze. When Jeff and Danny go for a long swim away from the yacht to go deep sea diving, Marcos returns to the boat claiming he can’t keep up with the others. Soon he makes a pass at Gloria and the two are embracing, not noticing the others have quietly returned. Danny goes into a rage and tosses Marcos overboard, throwing him a life preserver. To teach Marcos a lesson, Danny refuses to rescue Marcos and heads for the nearest island. Danny plans to return in due time to give Marcos a scare, and does this over bitchy Gloria’s objections. She hid the fact that she didn’t resist Marcos’s advances by screaming that it was not her fault that Marcos groped her. The problem is that upon the American’s return they can’t locate the rich Brazilian, only his life preserver. Gloria wanted to call the Coast Guard against the opposition of the boys, who feared Marcos is dead and Danny would be charged with murder. But Gloria refuses to alibi for Danny, saying Marcos is too important a person to her father and also that his family would never buy into their accidental death story. When Gloria does contact the Coast Guard, she changes her mind and makes up a story about engine trouble. But after a long search, the three worried youngsters are convinced that the missing Marcos is dead and scheme to come up with a story to explain what happened so that they can get away with the murder.

The explosive ending didn’t seem to be a reasonable one, but at that point it didn’t seem to matter what happened. It’s a B-film, that exploits a host of sexy poses and flirts with being a social commentary thriller. Its main asset is that it is set in a beautiful location where the gorgeous blue water is matched by the perfectly clear skies. The storytelling involves these materialistic minded creatures whining about money things. It’s hard to get worked up about these self-absorbed lightweights. I felt just as coldly about this film as the characters felt about each other. Though it is decently directed and acted and photographed, it left no lasting impression on me.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”