Quick Hit: As far from the Hollywood sensationalism that brackets it during DFP’s shark week, this one stands alone.
There are just an absolute ton of shark movies out there. And a lot of them are really, really bad. Sometimes they mean to be, and sometimes they don’t, but the bottom line is this: humanity cannot get enough of sharks. Along with that, sharks are scary when done correctly – look at Jaws for the most obvious example.
I think another thing that is important about shark movies is minimalism. When you look at the CGI that is thrown into lots of shark movies, you see a gluttonous expanse of money being used just on something that looks fake. The Reef, which is based on a true story, decided that it didn’t want to go that sensationalist route. It uses real footage of sharks to paint the picture of terror that forms after a ship runs aground and four friends choose to make a swim for land.
It’s that minimalism that saves the film from being boring. When everything is getting started, I was bored. The non-cinematic quality to the filming brought me out of the film, and the cast didn’t sell the relationships involved. There is a bit of romance that is unnecessary, but there anyways. Things don’t really start happening in any real way until the boat wrecks. In fact, most of the dialogue is about the fact that sharks are scary.
Point in fact: the cast is right – sharks are scary. The clinical, cold bloodedness that follows is what makes this worth watching. Too many films imbue creatures with an intelligence that isn’t a part of their nature. Here, the sharks are just sharks, ingesting limbs and then coming back for more later. The Reef almost plays off of your horror movie expectations by allowing you to think that there will be a “trap” set by a shark. Instead, you just see more scared faces.
The underwater photography is pretty good, despite the fact that it looks like it could have been shot at home. The worst part of the film is the repetitive nature of it. You consistently see shots that echo other shots, to the point where it is done a bit ad nauseaum. Despite all these things, I’m still going to give The Reef a “B-“. It’s a chilling little shark film that will have you hesitant to board a boat.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"