The thing I love about sharksploitation movies is they’re generally fun. Fun is a big part of the appeal, even when – or maybe especially when – they’re bad. “The Reef” is not a bad movie, but it’s also definitely not a fun movie.
When a group of friends find themselves stranded on a capsized and sinking yacht, they decide their only option is to swim to shore. But not long into their trek, they realise they’re being stalked by a killer shark.
Loosely based on a true story, “The Reef” offers a nerve-shreddingly tense survival horror story where the shark is just one of the existential threats to the characters, albeit the most urgent and bitey one. The performances are generally pretty good although after the first kill, some of the hysterics got so grating, I secretly started rooting for the shark to come back and finish Suzie (Adrienne Pickering) off.
Director Andrew Traucki keeps you waiting for the first appearance by the shark, secure in the knowledge that your anticipation is adding to the increasing sense of tension. Eschewing the use of CGI and even animatronics, the film relies on footage of real sharks, occasionally blended seamlessly with the cast, creating several moments of genuine ‘how did they do that?’ awe.
“The Reef” is an efficient and effective survival horror movie, telling its story with ruthless economy and an admirable commitment to realism but as a sharksploitation flick, it’s too serious and too accurate to really merit a place in “Shark Weak”.