You know that feeling when in the first few minutes of a movie it does everything right and you slowly start realizing that you’re about to watch a true masterpiece? I had that feeling with The Reef and I have to admit that by the end of it I was a wreck, totally immersed in the story and characters and vowing never to go near any goddamn sharks. It’s strange what paranoia, emotions and empathy do with your reasoning. If this movie was shot some thirty or forty years earlier it would definitely be the best shark movie out there. However, since Jaws took us all by surprise and is now already a cult classic, The Reef will have to be satisfied with position number two. On that note, I have to also comment on another movie that’s often hailed as the second: Open Water. While it is admirable what they have done with it, is not nearly good enough to be even on the list. The sheer quality of footage (after a while I had to take a break because of the shaky camera) disqualifies it from the list and qualifies it as an honorable mention.
Anyways, let’s not get distracted here and get back to one of the best shark movies. First of all, this monstrosity is based on true events and when I say based on true events, I really mean it, because they only changed a couple of things to create a better storytelling vibe, everything else is true. If you want to know more about the actual event, I will leave the link for the story after the review. This adds so much weight to everything you’re experiencing and helps with the immersion immensely, however, all that would be for nothing if they haven’t hired the right actors. And hire them they did, as they always do in great movies. They were not over-the-top or annoying but very on point and subtle, as if they were paying homage to the casualties of the real attack.
It’s always fun to mix business and pleasure and Luke thought so too as he invited a couple of friends aboard a yacht he’s supposed to deliver to a customer. But not before they have a little innocent fun on the way. However, while they were sailing above a particularly nasty coral reef, the vessel gets stuck and starts taking in water. Soon the situation escalates…
Now that we’ve established that The Reef built its characters carefully and with great attention to details, it’s time to dive into the technical stuff. By using real shark footage, shot around Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, the movie managed to create very authentic and frightening underwater scenes. With amazing cinematography and all the things we already praised, the only element we haven’t covered is the incredibly intense atmosphere. Since the character development was so good and this whole thing is based on a true story, you simply cannot escape that feeling of impending doom that’s slowly coming as the story is progressing.
With great camera-work that makes you feel like you’re with our protagonists in the shark-infested waters of Australia, I cannot find a single thing that I wished was different about this movie. Directed by Andrew Traucki, whose previous project was Black Water, also based on a true story of a deadly animal attack, The Reef features a much stronger narrative and technical characteristics. In the end, I have to recommend this movie both to shark movie lovers and everyone who loves watching movies in general because it’s one of the best, if not the best, shark movie out there.