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The Reef

A 2010 Australian horror-thriller.

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Decent shark flick.

  • Oct 9, 2011
**1/2 out of ****

I'm not going to compare "The Reef" to "Jaws". There are too many killer shark movies; some bad, some good, and it would be inappropriate to compare any of them to that riveting masterpiece of tension. However, would it be fine to compare the film to the killer shark movies that followed? Sure. I think I'll compare "The Reef" to "Open Water". They are both very similar films about unlikely people who are in a sticky situation; stranded in the middle of a shark infested ocean, constatnyl looking for land and/or help in every direction, but getting no response or safe haven in return. It's a rather depressing but riveting subject for a movie, but often times, it works. At least in "Open Water" it did. That's a very good flick that you need to catch if you haven't already. Seeing it would do you more good than seeing this derivative if not somewhat involving potboiler; which is a pretty well-made potboiler if one at all, but a potboiler nonetheless.

I think the reason behind why some shark movies are good and others are not rests in the fact that with each film, the points are all plotted and the filmmakers know where they want to take the premise. However, sometimes they decide to take little deteurs and embed their own style into the product; in an attempt to make it a quality picture. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately for "The Reef", the film finds itself smack-dab in the middle of things. It's not bad, it's not even mediocre, and it finds itself on the better side of decency; but what it lacks is riveting drama and an introduction to anything new. It uses old techniques, presents them in suitably old ways, and still manages to entertain. This is admirable, because this is an admirable and well-made film. I just wish it could have tried to be something more.

This is the kind of movie that opens by introducing us to characters who are pretty much characterless on sight. That's never good. What I mean by this is basically: just by staring into their eyes, at their hair, bodies, and into their personalities, we can tell whether we're actually going to care about them or not. My personal opinion on this can be said with a single word: nope! I would have been fine with these "characterless characters", and for a while, I was. As long as the film played its cards right, I was willing to like it. And again, for a while, I was.

The set-up: our heroes and heroines take a boat trip to a beautiful reef, go diving for a bit, and then (gasp) the boat capsizes. This leaves them stranded, alone, and without much help on their side. There are no islands - little or big - in sight. How unfortunate. They decide to swim outwards a ways instead of just waiting around for something to happen, and this is precisely the moment in which they meet the villain; the killer sharks.

And oh, do they kill! The film makes a smart move by supplying us with plenty of shark attack scenes, and I liked how the most graphic of graphic details weren't shown. This is always a good approach, since it makes the horror a whole lot more genuine; as does the nearly no-name cast of the film. I had no problem with the methods that the film used when it came to trying to scare and thrill the audience, I just had a slight issue with the attitude present in the delivery. "The Reef" doesn't even attempt to put its own spin on the concept of being in the middle of a large body of water and surrounded by sharks. It IS that movie; and that movie only. The downsides are basically that it lacks substance, REAL human drama, or definitive horror; while the upsides are that it has some beautiful cinematography (something that most low-budget killer shark movies certainly lack), some engaging underwater sequences, solid performances (attached to genuinely boring characters), and a sense of direction that might get the people involved somewhere in their respective careers. I suspect plenty of love and attention went into making this film, and in some parts, it shows. I guess those involved expect us to lower our expectations a bit so that we can enjoy the film; and maybe that's what you should do if my review, which I hope feels like it praises more than it criticizes, arouses your interest in the film. But when it comes down to distinguishing the shark from the movie, "The Reef" only just barely gets both the shark...and some of the movie. Perhaps the shark is a given.

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October 16, 2011
I am a sucker for shark movies....
February 26, 2012
Ok, now I remember! Sold! I guess I kinda breezed through your review before since I kinda wanted to see this. I will stream this first and if I really like it then I will buy the dvd. Be back to comment more once I've seen it....
More The Reef reviews
review by . March 01, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Quite A Decent Survival Horror Film
“Jaws” heralded the birth of the epic-horror genre and none have ever made it close to the success it had attained through the decades. It inspired 3 sequels and quite a few knock offs through the years. In the 90’s the campy “Deep Blue Sea” proved to be a minor success in the killer shark genre, and the awesomely realistic, true-to-life “Open Water” made viewers become afraid to go into the water again. Well, we’ve all learned about the fantastic …
Quick Tip by . February 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Quite a decent shark movie and it is a believable true story too. Sure it isn't "Jaws" and resembles "Open Water" more than anything. Simple, with some rough areas but definitely had credible suspense.      Update: Read the Full Review here.     
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Movies, Horror, Killer Shark


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"Decent shark flick."
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