Monday, August 05, 2013

Shark Week 3: 'The Reef' (2010)

Not to be confused with the 2006 animated movie of the same name (which also features sharks), The Reef is an Australian thriller based very loosely on a true story, about five friends whose yacht capsizes after hitting the titular object, stranding them in waters infested with great white sharks. Four of the friends decide to attempt to swim to a small island several miles away, while the fifth crew member stays behind on the overturned boat. The swimmers are constantly on edge as they look out for sharks, and although it takes until more than halfway through the movie, eventually the sharks deliver.

The Reef is a lot more serious than your average low-budget shark-attack movie, and was actually pretty well-reviewed upon its release. Writer-director Andrew Traucki does a decent job of building suspense before the shark attacks start, but once the first shark chomps into one of the characters, the movie loses momentum, since we're just sitting around waiting for the inevitable next attack. Comparisons have been drawn to Open Water, but while that movie waited until the very end to show any real violence, The Reef has several pretty gory shark-attack scenes. They may be impressively staged, but they also turn the movie from a low-key suspense story into a full-on horror movie.

The characters are thinly sketched to begin with, but the dialogue really deteriorates once the shark attacks are in full effect, and the actors (especially Zoe Naylor) really overdo it on the hysteria. The Reef is certainly a cut above the majority of shark-attack B-movies, and it compares favorably with Open Water, but those aren't the highest bars to clear.

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