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‘Open Water’ filmmakers escape tsunami

Kentis says approaching wave was like something from a movie
/ Source: The Associated Press

Married filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau escaped being pulled into a real-life version of their thriller “Open Water” when the resort island of Phuket in Thailand was struck by last weekend’s tsunami.

“I heard people yelling, ‘Run, run!”’ said Kentis, who wrote and directed the 2003 sleeper hit about two scuba divers stranded in shark-infested waters. “I looked behind me and I thought, ‘This is what happens in a movie when there’s a tidal wave.’ You could hear the rumbling and this wave was coming right at us.”

Kentis, 41, told The Associated Press by phone Thursday from Singapore that he fled to his upper-story hotel room, where he found his sister-in-law and other relatives.

But at that moment, his wife and 7-year-old daughter, Sabrina, were in a second-floor Internet cafe, trapped by a phone booth lodged in the stairwell. The power went out and electric lines popped all around them.

“I saw the wave come over the street. It just washed away absolutely everything in its path. I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Lau.

Lau, 41, said she pulled about a half-dozen Swedish tourists to safety using a bamboo ladder before using it herself to escape from the cafe’s balcony with Sabrina on her back. They reached Kentis by hiking in waist-deep water back to the hotel.

The couple then hiked several miles into the mountains with their luggage. They took two minicabs to Phuket’s east coast, which Kentis said seemed almost unaffected by the tsunami.

“When we got there, it was all people on yachts having a good time. It was just surreal,” Kentis said. “Two hours later, our kids were swimming in this beautiful hotel pool and we’re ordering food.”

“Open Water” was released Tuesday on DVD, but Kentis said that was the last thing on his mind.

“In the wake of all this, it’s meaningless to me,” he said. “If we’d done anything differently, who knows if we would have come out alive or not?”