The Reef DVD Review
Directed by Andrew Traucki
Written by Andrew Traucki and James M. Vernon
2010, Region 2 (PAL), 94 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD Released January 24th 2011
Damian Walshe-Howling as Luke
Gyton Grantley as Matt
Adrienne Pickering as Suzie
Zoe Naylor as Kate
Kieran Darcy-Smith as Warren
I guess any movie that features people getting attacked by a big shark is going to require that the reviewer mentions Jaws at some point, so I’m just going to get this out of the way; The Reef is nothing like Jaws.
Except for the shark, obviously.
Now that’s out of my system I won’t need to drop the J-bomb again for the rest of the review. Be sure and pick me up on it if I do, OK?
When four friends get together and set off on a sailing trip in the beautifully azure sea of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, they couldn’t have imagined that things would go so horribly wrong so quickly. When their boat hits coral and capsizes, they all manage to scramble to safety on the upturned hull and face a stark choice; try to swim some twelve miles to the nearest shore or stay on the boat and hope, by some infitesimally small chance, that a boat or plane comes close enough to rescue them.
While the four friends decide to swim for it their crew-hand, Warren, is an experienced sea-dog and opts to stay on the hull, fearing the open water and what lurks beneath the surface…
What’s a filmmaker to do when his budget won’t run to convincing CGI sharks? In Andrew Traucki’s case he opts to use real 14-foot Great Whites to get the shark footage he needs. Some directors would have overused the footage they shot, after all you put cameras and crew in the water so these babies should get a ton of screen time, right? In The Reef there is very little shown of the killer and, like any good monster movie, less is more.
Despite many of the scenes in The Reef having a very familiar feel, they work extremely well thanks to Traucki’s tight direction. The running time is sufficiently brief that events can unfold at a pace that maintains tension throughout. The small cast means there is a perfect balance between developing the characters and letting the story run. Just four actors take up the majority of screen time and each one is completely solid in their role.
Set-pieces are limited to a filmmaker shooting a shark attack movie; in open water with a lurking threat, someone always manages to get cut, there’ll always be some thrashing legs in the water as some unseen beast approaches and you’ll usually find a shot of heads above water as one person gets picked off. The Reef uses these limited scenarios to great effect and many of the underwater shots will have you pulling your legs up onto the sofa in fear of something snapping at your toes.
So I said I wouldn’t mention it again, but one more time won’t hurt to make the point. The Reef is not just a cheap Jaws clone, it’s every bit its own movie with as much fear, tension and jump-out-of-your-seat scares as the one that set the standard for shark films.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Not graded as this was a screener.