A great white shark hunts the crew of a capsized sailboat along the Great Barrier Reef.
Director – Andrew Traucki
Starring – Damian Walshe-Howling, Gyton Grantley, Adrienne Pickering, Zoe Naylor
As if you needed another reason not to venture out into the ocean, along comes a little gem of a movie called “The Reef.” Based on true events, this movie definitely knows how to ratchet up the tension and keep it there. And while the plot follows the same dangers and rough plot of “Open Water,” it more than holds its own.
Ah, the beauty of Australia. Picturesque lands, pristine waters that are inviting. Sounds like the perfect place to take a holiday. And that is just what three people do. Matt and his girlfriend Suzie (played by Adrienne Pickering who was in Shutter) decide to do some underwater snorkeling. Coming along with them is their friend Kate (Zoe Naylor). Their guide happens to be Kate’s former boyfriend, Luke. He and Kate are still on relative good terms and you get the sense that they really wanted it to work out, but circumstances kept getting in the way.
Along for the ride is Warren, a local fisherman who has agreed to help Luke out on this trip. It isn’t long before the five of them are off to a nearby island. Once there they don their gear and start snorkeling. The underwater shots are really beautiful as we watch them swim about the coral and fish. Later on the island Luke and Kate take time to catch up while Matt and Suzie enjoy the sandy beach. All is going wonderful until they decide to head on back.
Seems the tide has pulled back and they find themselves sailing in some very shallow water. It isn’t long before they hit a reef, capsizing the boat and putting a nice hole in the bottom. They quickly manage to get on top of the boat and Luke makes numerous dives back under and into the boat to get various supplies, most importantly a bottle of water. The sun is out and beating down and the options they are facing are bleak.
You could stay on the boat and hope that someone comes along and finds you before it sinks. Or you could make a ten to twelve mile swim to nearby Turtle Island and wait it out there. Warren is staying put. He mentions that in the wetsuits the sharks will think you’re a seal. Luke becomes the de facto leader and the one who wants to make a swim for it. After much discussion everyone save for Warren agrees to try and reach Turtle Island. And once they are in the water and their journey begins, the tension just builds and builds as you immediately get the sense that they might not all make it in one piece.
The directing in this movie is really superb. Andrew Traucki, who also directed Black Water, really puts you out there in the character’s shoes, or wetsuits in this case, and you feel yourself tensing up whenever you see the fin of a shark appear. It’s a credit to him because even though you’ve seen this movie before with Open Water, you’re not quite sure one, when those attacks are coming and two, who exactly may or may not make it to safety.
The acting is really good as well all around. The fear is very evident on their faces as they wonder whether or not they’re getting out of this alive. One interesting technique used is that of Luke donning his goggles and looking under the water whenever there is a sense of danger. First we get some great looks of the shark swimming very close but more importantly, we see how from the murkiness the shark can literally appear from nowhere.
I would definitely say rent this one if you love the premise of people being stalked by a shark. After seeing this, if you haven’t already, you may never want to take a trip out into the ocean. I guess there is a darn good reason the good lord didn’t give us gills. Take the hint and stay on land.