If you’re looking for a solid, “does-what-it-says-on-the-tin” horror, director Andrew Traucki’s Australian shark-slasher The Reef (2010) isn’t likely to disappoint, which is saying something considering the state of most run-of-the-mill Hollywood horrors of late.
Apparently “based on true events”, The Reef follows five “twentysomethings” with negligible back stories sailing off into Antipodean waters in search of relaxation. However (completely unexpectedly), their vessel collides with coral, capsizing and leaving the group stranded, no less than ten miles from land. Do they stay on a boat which is slowly gliding further from safety, or risk swimming towards solid ground through shark infested waters?
The opening twenty minutes cement adequate interrelationships crucial to the group’s survival, and features a claustrophobic sinking boat sequence, if one which is shot and edited rather messily. Indeed, most of the scares are edited with confusing continuity, as well as an irksome, shaky camera aesthetic. They do however, feature real life Great White Shark footage, put to good use during several well composed sequences of tension, as the shark preys on its victims.
The dialogue and acting are suitably mediocre, just good enough to pay off during the ‘Do we, don’t we?’ debate after the boat upends. In addition, despite The Reef’s events being set in the middle of nowhere, Traucki still manages to create a surprising amount of tension.
The Reef doesn’t outstay its welcome at a breezy 80 minutes, but unfortunately the end is something of a disappointment. After certain characters make their exits, one would expect the film to intensify toward a spectacular climax, yet this sadly never arrives. However, this is a minor problem within an otherwise entertaining diversion of a film. There are scares, some (unintended) laughter, and a splash of gore, and most importantly, it’ll all be forgotten the morning after.