What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?

  • By: Vlad Ivanov
  • Date: May 24, 2023
  • Time to read: 12 min.

Key Takeaway:

  • Open Water (2003) explores the fear of open water, also known as Thalassophobia, through the two main characters, Susan and Daniel. Both characters develop symptoms of Thalassophobia during a dive trip, which ultimately leads to a fight for survival.
  • Susan and Daniel, played by Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis, respectively, are on vacation in the Caribbean, where they decide to go on a scuba diving trip. Despite their initial excitement, they both begin to experience fear and anxiety once they are in the open water.
  • Thalassophobia is a fear of the sea or open water that can manifest in physical and emotional symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and panic attacks. Causes of this phobia can be a traumatic event, fear of the unknown, or a lack of control in the water.
  • The impact of Thalassophobia on the plot of Open Water (2003) is significant, as it drives the character development of Susan and Daniel and creates a thrilling and suspenseful story. The fear and panic they experience lead to dangerous situations and ultimately a fight for survival.
  • Thalassophobia is a real fear experienced by many divers in real life, and taking steps such as seeking professional help, practicing relaxation techniques, and gradually building up exposure to open water can help individuals overcome their fear.

Are you afraid of the deep, dark waters? Open Water (2003) explores the fear of being surrounded by the open ocean, giving us a glimpse of what it may be like to confront our phobias. You’ll discover what character in the movie suffers from a fear of sharks, amongst other phobias.

Phobia in Open Water (2003)

Phobia in Open Water (2003)-What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?,

Photo Credits: triumphoverphobia.com by Alexander Nguyen

In Open Water (2003), the characters exhibit a fear of being stranded and helpless in a vast expanse of water. With the fear of sharks lurking beneath the surface, the phobia intensifies, leading to a devastating outcome. The film showcases the psychological effects of this phobia and highlights the importance of avoiding situations that trigger it. It also emphasizes the need for proper safety measures during adventurous excursions in open water.

The fear portrayed in Open Water (2003) is a complex phobia that can arise from the fear of drowning, fear of being alone in open water, fear of dark and murky waters, or fear of marine animals. The extent of the phobia can vary from person to person, but it usually stems from a traumatic experience related to water. In the movie, the characters’ phobia is triggered by being stranded in the middle of the ocean, with no visible land in sight and the looming presence of sharks. This is a realistic depiction of a phobia that affects many people worldwide.

While the characters’ phobia in Open Water (2003) may seem extreme, it is a genuine fear that can have severe consequences if left unchecked. People who suffer from it should seek professional help to overcome the phobia and avoid situations that trigger it. It is important to learn basic safety measures, such as wearing a life jacket, before venturing into open waters.

Pro Tip: If you suffer from a phobia of open water, it is essential to seek professional help and take steps to overcome it. Avoid putting yourself in situations that trigger the phobia and learn basic safety measures to ensure your safety during excursions in open water.

Characters in the Movie

Characters in the Movie-What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?,

Photo Credits: triumphoverphobia.com by Terry Johnson

We will focus on Susan and Daniel’s phobias in the movie ‘Open Water (2003)’. To understand how their fears play a role in the plot, let’s analyze their reactions in the open water. This can give us an insight into the characters and their anxieties.


One of the characters in Open Water (2003) displays aquaphobia, which is a fear of water. The character’s fear of water is seen throughout the film, leading to several tense moments. Her phobia also contributes to how she reacts and copes during the life-threatening situation.

Looks like Daniel’s fear of open water doesn’t just stem from the sharks, but also from the realization that his girlfriend is a terrible navigator.


One of the main characters in Open Water (2003) manifests hydrophobia, a fear of water. Daniel, who is played by Daniel Travis in the movie, struggles to cope with the ocean and its dangers throughout the film. As they are left behind by their scuba diving group and forced to survive on their own in shark-filled waters, his phobia becomes more pronounced.

Throughout the movie, Daniel’s hydrophobia intensifies as he tries to stay alive amidst marine life that could potentially harm him. His character draws attention to the debilitating effects extreme fear can have on a person’s ability to think critically and rationally in dire circumstances.

Interestingly enough, Open Water was inspired by a true story about Tom and Eileen Lonergan who were mistakenly left behind during a scuba diving trip off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 1998. Although Open Water deviates from the real-life events, it taps into an all too human terror of being stranded alone surrounded by deep dark waters that feels almost limitless and cruelly indifferent.

The characters in Open Water might have thalassophobia, but at least they didn’t have to worry about getting a sunburn in the middle of the ocean.


Thalassophobia-What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?,

Photo Credits: triumphoverphobia.com by David Wilson

Do you understand Thalassophobia? It’s the fear of the sea and its vastness. It affects people in a big way. This phobia is normal. It can be very disabling for some people. Let’s quickly look at the Symptoms and Causes of Thalassophobia.


Individuals experiencing significant fear and anxiety towards the vastness of the ocean may have thalassophobia. In Open Water (2003), characters Susan and Daniel suffer from this phobia, leading to their distressing experience of being left behind in shark-infested waters. Symptoms vary, including feelings of panic, weakness, difficulty breathing, sweating, nausea, heart palpitations, and a strong urge to flee or escape. These symptoms can also be triggered by certain circumstances or stimuli like waves, depth perception, marine life sightings, or stories of ocean-related tragedies.

It’s essential to identify and understand the triggers of thalassophobia as it’s often an underlying fear that can cause distress in everyday situations like beach vacations or sailing trips. Cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy can help individuals gradually become comfortable with water-related situations and overcome their phobia.

Pro Tip: If you’re experiencing thalassophobia symptoms during a water activity, try adjusting your breathing technique by taking slow and deep breaths while visualizing calming scenes. Seek support from a therapist if symptoms persist or worsen over time.

Why go to therapy when you can just watch Open Water (2003) and develop a phobia for free?


The roots causing Thalassophobia in the characters of Open Water (2003) are deep. The movie portrays the fear of being lost or abandoned during an oceanic excursion or mishap. The mere thought of being adrift with no hope of rescue is terrifying and can cause severe anxiety and panic attacks.

The vastness and unknown depths of the ocean trigger feelings of unease, as humans are not meant to survive underwater. The characters’ imagination runs wild, conjuring up gory tales involving sharks, jellyfish, and other menacing sea creatures.

Moreover, the depiction of murky waters in the film increases the suspense, making it difficult for viewers to anticipate when the characters’ fears will manifest.

To add a unique detail, studies suggest that Thalassophobia may stem from an evolutionary response to dangers lurking beneath opaque water surfaces. This genetic predisposition is difficult to overcome without proper therapy that helps individuals manage their reactions.

If you suffer from Thalassophobia or are curious about its causes, this article sheds some light on the subject while emphasizing that professional help is available for coping with this condition. Don’t let your fear prevent you from enjoying life’s oceanic wonders – take control today!

The characters’ fear of open water may have been better solved with a pool party instead of a scuba diving expedition.

Impact on the Plot

Impact on the Plot-What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?,

Photo Credits: triumphoverphobia.com by James Adams

To comprehend the effect of the characters’ fear on Open Water (2003), let us take a peep at character improvement and the thrill component. These pieces are key in forming the plot of the movie. Moreover, they display the psychological effects that terror can have on one’s decision-making.

Character Development

The Evolution of Characters in Open Water (2003)

As the plot unfolds, we see how the main characters of Open Water (2003) develop and evolve. From an initial state of enjoyment, pleasure, and carelessness towards their surroundings to a desperate fight for survival. The character development lies in their phobia of being alone, abandoned, and forgotten.

As Susan and Daniel are stranded in shark-infested waters, they realize that they have no one but each other. With no sign of rescue or hope, they start questioning their relationship’s trustworthiness and unconditional love. Their phobia of being left alone intensifies with every passing hour and drives them to make tough decisions affecting their journey’s outcome.

As fear takes over them, they start developing emotional exhaustion leading to delusions causing conflicts between them. They embark on a journey that tests their commitment towards one another as they try to stay alive battling the harsh conditions.

Witnessing the character’s harrowing experience in Open Water (2003), we can’t help but wonder what we would do if we were left stranded like Susan and Daniel. It is a bone-chilling reminder that life could take an unexpected turn at any moment, leaving us isolated and afraid.

Step into the world of Open Water (2003) to experience its remarkable storytelling through vivid portrayals of hopelessness, despair, endurance, fortitude; all staged beautifully against this petrifying natural backdrop – a pure embodiment of our worst fears coming true.

Open Water (2003) adds a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘lost at sea’.

Thrill Element

The element of suspense and anticipation is a vital aspect in movies, especially thriller and horror genres, where the plot revolves around characters facing challenges or danger. In Open Water (2003), fear is the central theme that serves as a foundation for the story’s thrilling element.

The phobia of being stranded in open water without any help sets up an alarming scenario that captures the audience’s attention throughout the movie. As the film progresses, the feeling of dread and tension heightens, making it difficult for viewers to look away from what’s happening on screen. This buildup of fear keeps the audience engaged in wanting to know what will happen next, making it an essential element of this film’s thrill factor.

What sets Open Water apart from other horror/sci-fi movies is that it takes inspiration from real-life events to create a compelling narrative based on terrifying circumstances. The movie emphasizes how psychological weakness can often be more harmful than physical threats, adding depth to character development.

In addition to its storyline, Open Water subtly incorporates symbols and metaphors throughout its runtime to create even more subtextual elements that add to its appeal. For instance, water has always been associated with life, but here it acts as a medium for death/unseen dangers—one among many such thought-provoking details that lead to an immersive storytelling experience.

To make films more thrilling like Open Water (2003), filmmakers can implement these same concepts into new projects by focusing primarily on one genuine subject matter: fear. Additionally, they can add small touches like symbolism/metaphors when appropriate—something that enhances immersion and creates a memorable atmosphere for their viewers.

Divers with thalassophobia: discovering the ocean is their worst nightmare, yet they still choose to swim with the fishes, or more accurately, swim as far away from them as possible.

Real Life Instances of Thalassophobia in Divers

Real Life Instances of Thalassophobia in Divers-What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?,

Photo Credits: triumphoverphobia.com by Harold Allen

Thalassophobia is a common condition that afflicts divers around the world. Deep-sea divers who have a fear of the ocean or the creatures living in its depths can feel extreme anxiety, panic attacks, or even pass out under the water. The fear of the open sea often leads to irrational thoughts and behaviors in these divers, making it difficult to explore the ocean’s life fully.

Thalassophobia can manifest in several different ways, including fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, fear of drowning, and fear of sea creatures. Divers with this phobia may experience difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and cold sweats, leading them to avoid challenging dives and missing out on potentially exciting diving opportunities.

Moreover, the fear of the ocean can also lead to several physiological and psychological changes in the diver’s body. Increased levels of anxiety and stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline can lead to increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and even heart attacks in severe cases. Such responses can direct divers to distance themselves from the ocean frequently.

To overcome thalassophobia, divers should start small and gradually increase their diving exposure, seeking out calm, shallow waters and familiarizing themselves with the ocean and its inhabitants. Communication with diving partners and proper training and preparation can also help divers manage their fears and stay safe while exploring the ocean’s depths. Ultimately, a better understanding of the ocean and its creatures can lead to a newfound respect and love for the ocean, paving the way for more enjoyable and fulfilling diving experiences.

Five Facts About Phobia in Open Water (2003):

  • ✅ The main characters in Open Water suffer from thalassophobia, which is the fear of deep, dark bodies of water. (Source: IMDB)
  • ✅ Thalassophobia can manifest as panic attacks, extreme anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and nausea. (Source: Healthline)
  • ✅ Exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication are some of the treatments for phobias like thalassophobia. (Source: Verywell Mind)
  • ✅ Open Water is based on a true story about a couple who got stranded in the ocean during a scuba diving trip and were never found. (Source: CNN)
  • ✅ The film’s budget was only $500,000, and it grossed over $54 million at the box office. (Source: Box Office Mojo)

FAQs about What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?

What Phobia Do The Characters Have In Open Water (2003)?

The main characters in Open Water (2003) are suffering from thalassophobia, which is the fear of deep water or the ocean.

What Causes Thalassophobia?

Thalassophobia can be caused by a traumatic experience related to water, such as being stuck in a current or being attacked by a sea creature. It can also be due to a fear of the unknown in deep water.

What Are The Symptoms Of Thalassophobia?

The symptoms of thalassophobia can include sweating, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness, and a feeling of impending doom when near or in deep water.

How Is Thalassophobia Treated?

Therapy, medication, and exposure therapy can be used to treat thalassophobia. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to their fear in a controlled environment to help them become desensitized and overcome their fear.

Is Thalassophobia Common?

Thalassophobia is a common phobia, with as many as 20% of people experiencing some level of fear related to deep water.

Does Open Water (2003) Accurately Portray Thalassophobia?

Yes, Open Water (2003) accurately portrays the fear and anxiety that can come with thalassophobia. The isolation, vulnerability, and danger that the characters face in the open ocean can trigger intense panic and fear in those with thalassophobia.

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