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July 28, 2011

Movie Review: The Reef (2010, Blu-Ray)

Open Water was a huge hit in 2003. With the constraints of a low budget of $500,000 dollars it went on to make a hundred times that in worldwide sales. I’ll give director Chris Kentis and his producers a pat on the back for that. That’s an amazing accomplishment. Maybe I’m in the minority though because Open Water bored me to tears. Andrew Traucki’s The Reef has been compared to said film. Going into this I was hoping the comparisons weren’t of all the negatives that littered the highly overrated Open Water. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised.

Buy The Reef Blu-ray or DVD or Watch it Instantly

Australia (along with South Africa) is one of the shark capitals of the world so for me, that alone amps up the intensity of this film, just for the pure fact that these toothy bastards are in such high number. Two snorkeling couples (Gyton Grantley,Zoe Naylor,Adrienne Pickering,Damian Howling) and their boat-driving pal, Warren (Kieran Darcy Smith) decide to head off on their own underwater expedition to the Great Barrier Reef. Their adventure is soon interrupted when their boat is capsized in the shark-filled waters. They have two choices: sit on top of the boat, dehydrate and fry from the searing heat or swim several miles to shore with the possibility of being shark food.

The great thing about The Reef is it’s not just a “shark film”. Mind you, the sharks act as a wonderful supporting cast but in essence it’s a film about survival. The acting is very good. All of the players have a wonderful sense of urgency that’s paramount in maintain a degree of suspense because of their desperation. The cinematography is also an area of excellence here as the underwater sequences look quite lovely – especially on this Blu-Ray edition. There’s a pretty impressive scene during the couples trek to find land where one of the sharks pursuing the group dives through the air and over one of the actor’s heads. Was it a stuntman? I have no idea, but anybody getting that close to one of those beasts has got some balls. In addition to the film, Image has also supplied a nifty extra feature called “Shooting with Sharks” that’s a very cool watch if you take it in after the feature.

I really hope more people are able to see The Reef instead of passing it off as an Open Water clone. While not a classic like Jaws, The Reef stands on its own with its unfailing tension, solid performances and fine direction.

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