No, no the kids movie, you silly.
Know what? Let’s talk about a good shark movie, for a change, let’s talk about The Reef, from director-writer Andrew Traucki, here at his second directorial role for a feature lenght film, after debutting with Black Water, another survival horror film, but about a saltwater crocodile (later followed by Black Water Abyss).
This one is often brought up when discussing the best shark movies, and by pure coincidence it’s another Australian production, like Bait 3D, which happens to be one of my favorites and one of the better received shark flick all around. And boy do we need good ones to offset the avalanche of shit shark movies pumped out on yearly basis, we really do need some good one once in a while.
The premise is fairly simple and quick to lay out: a boat capsizes near the Great Barrier Reef, and after discussing the situation, the crew decides to swim to a nearby island only to find itself hunted by a great white shark.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost the same basic premise of Open Water, and it was also advertised as “based on a true story”, this time citing a similar story happening in 1983, even if the film’s premise has so many elements in common with the real story of the Lonergans, which was used as basis by the first Open Water movie.
BUT i don’t feel it makes much sense to call this a “rip-off” in any way, even if the premise reminds one more of Open Water 2 than the first one, also because this is a basic marine themed survival horror setup that most likely would have existed regardless, as it’s a simple but realistic situation, no need to invent anything outlandish when something like this could easily happen to anyone.
And it’s indeed one of the better ones i’ve seen, simple premise, really good execution, with characters that aren’t that developed but become quite easy to symphatize with, as you feel the distress and costant tension a situation like this would realistically bring, with paranoia that takes reign, every odd wave potentially hiding a new threath, while fatigue mounts and the hypothetical fears are undeniably confirmed.
It’s pretty tense all the way through, and the sharks are often real and well edited into the footage, maybe in a couple of very brief occasions they will look not as real, but this is a very small nitpick, and doesn’t detract at all from the experience, which also doesn’t employ much in the way of blood and gore, because it’s already pretty unnerving even without seeing the carnage, not that you would realistically see much in open sea when a shark decides to sample your flesh and go for seconds.
Acting is pretty good to boot, which makes a bit sad since i feel the australian cast (you can tell from the accents… mostly) will be pretty much unknown outside of Australia, aside from Damian Walshe-Howling, also in He Died With A Falafel In His Hand, the austrialian The Secret Life of Us, and other movies and tv series i feel won’t mean anything if you’re not Australian.
Maybe i’m wrong, quite likely, but regardless, quite good cast, and the production values are surprisingly good, not too polished to detract from the realistic approach, but also not going for a deliberate lo-fi approach like the first Open Water movie.
If i had to really nitpick something, is how a “subplot” is basically abandoned at a certain point, but it’s also to feed into the finale, that by design doesn’t explain everything, leaving something still unknown, but – again – this is to corroborate the “based on true events” approach, and it works.
Overall, i really don’t have much to say or to pad out this review even more, The Reef is indeed quite good if you want a serious survival thriller-horror movie about sharks, i do recommend it, so shoosh, go watch a fuckin good shark movie for once, please.
They do exist. 🙂