"The Reef" (2010)


The Reef (2010)
Directed by: Andrew Traucki
Running time: 88 minutes

Howdy readers! My apologies for the lengthy gaps between reviews recently, I have had a very busy week at uni (often staying until late at night) for rehearsals. And given I did two reviews in the one week last time, I decided to have a break and come back to it today. So here I am! Let’s cut to the chase shall we?

Now Showing this week is The Reef directed by Andrew Traucki. It is an Australian film showing just how dangerous the Australian wildlife is by telling the story of five people who are out sailing onto the Great Barrier Reef. While they are out there, their boat is punctured by some coral and it capsizes. This then leaves them stranded and with a difficult decision: do they stay with potentially sinking wreck, or do they swim north through open water to an island that they believe to be there. Those that decided to swim find themselves being hunted by the ultimate predator: the Great White Shark.

I should just get this out of the way: I am a huge sucker for shark movies. Ever since I was little I have loved sharks; particularly the Great White, it was always my favourite. I was always fascinated by the fact that they are some of the oldest animals on the planet (going back to before the dinosaurs) and that meant that they are the perfectly evolved predator. They can sense a single drop of blood in a million drops of water, from miles away! Their speed and agility is unmatched in the ocean. I suppose my love of them as a child came from the classic childish competition of “my favourite animal could beat your favourite animal!”. And in my case, I was right! Unless the other kid’s animal was a killer whale, then it would have to come down to a thumb war.

Anyway, the movie! I was very impressed by how tense the scenes in the open water were. My body was extremely tense for the duration of those scenes, and the friend I watched it with was curled up in a ball for majority of the film. And the aspect of it all that I would attribute this to would be the cinematography. The cinematography was nothing special, it wasn’t the rotating corridor in Inception, but it was the fact that the director clearly knew what were expecting to happen. The audience is expecting to see a fin pop up in the distance that the characters don’t notice; they’re expecting to see the shark in the distant gloom of the ocean. And the cinematography lined up these shots (some in the distance above the surface and looking back at the people or a point of view shot underwater checking for danger) but then nothing happens! And you’d think that would be a relief, as in “the shark’s not around, we’re fine!” kind of thing, but no. It just raised the tension even more, and when the shark comes out to play it is just adrenaline pumping.

Sadly, however, the actual talking parts of the film left a lot to be desired. There are plenty of cliches that result in the necessary lead up to shark time, but there were numerous attempts to make us actually care about the people and their back story which were pretty awful. One of the men and one of the women were “on a break” in their relationship and it is never exactly clear why or how serious they were together. Their private conversations were simply a series of short/single word responses and some very out of place kissing. If anything, I don’t think I identified with the characters at all; more I saw them as blank slates that I could substitute for myself in the situation. And that’s where the real horror came from for me, the idea of how I would feel out there in the middle of the ocean, at the mercy of my favourite animal.

But who the heck watches shark movies for the people?! Sure the characters were bland and boring, but they performed admirably well at being stalked and eaten by the shark so the main part of the experience was excellent. That’s what I signed on for and that’s what I got, an adrenaline pumping eighty minutes with a Great White Shark. I would recommend this film to anyone else looking for the same thing, but perhaps you should fast forward the opening half an hour until the tension starts to build. Then again, if I suggest you have to skip the beginning then it can’t have been a good film. So maybe it wasn’t, but I thoroughly enjoyed the latter sections with the shark. Man, it’s rare for me to be this torn between liking and not liking something. Anyway, enough pondering, I shall see you next time!

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