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Review: The Reef


Director: Andrew Traucki
Starring: Damian Walshe-Howling, Gyton Grantley, Adrienne Pickering

I had seen a few trailers for The Reef, and was reminded of Open Water. I dragged Mrs T to see that back in 2003 (… Jesus… was it really that long ago?)I really liked that too. As a theme, movies where people are isolated in the water intrigue me more than, say, being isolated on a ski lift. Frozen looked pretty good, to be fair, on the trailer before this kicked in. The fact that the trailer shows one of them jumping off the ski lift is a sure fire way there is a way off it, though. Here, in the deep blue sea? There is nowhere to go.

Except turtle island, that is. After the boat capsizes, the survivalist of the group looks at his watch, multiplies it by three, and then finds north. From there he deduces that is where the island is. They have to swim, as there is a current, drifting them further out to sea. The Making Of on the DVD has the Actors saying this is the most interesting bit. I see their point. As a scenario, you can’t help but question what you would do in that situation. As the lead characters discuss it, we know some will want to go, some will stay – but I thought that was handled quite well.

When they do decide, and some go, some stay, I liked that almost immediately some regretted their decisions. I mean, what would you do? Stay on a capsized boat, drifting further from land… or take your chances?

The first sighting of the shark raised the bar for me. I avoided the temptation, but immediately wanted to go on IMdB to see if the sharks were real. And if they were, how did they get them into certain shots?

That is a credit to the film, and although brief, the Making Of explains it all. Real sharks. Including one that had a little nibble at the camera. Again, it did a good job of elevating the film against other creature films. I like Rogue, which I saw recently. But it all seemed a bit fake.

The camera is used really well through out, as well. Rather than constant shots from beneath the water, the camera just sits on top. Not even suggesting there is something underneath. I really liked that idea. Spielberg has been pastiched so much now; that in this sort of film you may as well try something different.

Another scene that worked really well was going to get supplies from the capsized boat. Very tightly shot, no space, no air, confined. It worked really well.

Inevitably, the film peters out a bit. We know what is coming after the first attack (which is admittedly ferocious, and well done). The question is… do we care enough about the leads to see them to the island?

Surprisingly, I wasn’t desperate for anyone to die. You know how in a group like this, you’re sat there thinking you hope he dies first… or that she gets the most gruesome death? I didn’t really get that. One of the Women keeps freezing with fear. She literally can’t move. I couldn’t argue with that. It’s understandable, after she’s just seen her mate lose their legs.

So I stuck with it, to see what did happen. There is no chair lift to jump off, so does a plane fly over at just the right time? Will a boat sail past, with Sam Neil and Nicole Kidman on it? Hell, maybe even Billy Zane?

The Making Of goes at lengths to show you how the film played it straight. Used real sharks. Real locations. I think that won me over. It’s as memorable as Open Water, for sure. Apart from the grim ending of that film, (OK, OK, and a topless shot of the lead woman), I don’t remember a lot. The acting is alright, and the script asks all the questions you want asked.

It’s a true story, allegedly. I guess that means you have to play it straight. I would be lying if there weren’t a part of me wanting the shark to jump ten feet in the air, and have lunch. But hey, blame Renny Harlin for that… not me.


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