The Reef: Hunted – Film news |

To paraphrase a Norwegian commentator when discussing shark films over the past decade; the sharks took “a hell of a beating”. Sharknado was the catalyst leading to a whole subgenre of cheap shark movies with amazing storylines, Ghost Shark anyone? The reef was released during this time and was a breath of fresh sea air relying on taught direction and suspense.

Now we have The Reef: Stalked which features four friends two of whom are sisters enjoying the coast around Australia seemingly without a care in the world. This is shattered when Nic’s (Teressa Liane) sister Cath (Bridget Burt) is murdered, sending her into a depression that sees her and her other sister Annie (Saskia Archer) leave Australia to deal with the aftermath of the murder.

Returning about nine months later, Nic is reunited with Jodie (Ann Truong) and Lisa (Kate Lister) and, to his surprise, Annie, who had never shown much interest in the sea. they go on a vacation that they hope will bring them some solace. However, it isn’t long before a shark fin smashes through the water towards them, and an attack sends Annie and Lisa into the ocean.

It complicates when they see two children playing aboard a flimsy platform off an island that collapses as soon as the shark hits it. Upon reaching the island, the women effectively find themselves stranded, forcing them to make decisions to confront the shark and their own traumas.

The problem with many of these horror films at sea is keeping the viewer’s interest for the duration of the film, as the high seas can be quite boring. The Reef and Open Water solve this problem, although in different ways. The Reef relies on nervous tension, while Open Water is much more personal as the two adrift in the sea become increasingly stressed as the reality of their situation dawns.

The Reef: Stalked tries to play it both ways and doesn’t quite succeed. Returning director and screenwriter Andrew Traucki keeps his hands on the direction by building tension with heavy use of the POV camera. When the women are on the kayaks or in the water and the sharks attack, it brilliantly propels the spectator into the universe of the actors by creating great suspense or plunged into the chaos of an attack.

What doesn’t work as well is Nic’s trauma after his sister’s murder, his ensuing global journey, leaving Annie to cope, returning with a jitters from the sea. This psychological aspect – represented by flashbacks about Cath’s death and body in the bath – as well as her sibling conflict don’t fit into the film very well and disrupt the pacing.

Credit though for using character bathos to deepen the story and not having to rely on constant shark attacks which themselves could get tedious in a high tension, low body count movie.

The Reef: Stalked hits digital platforms July 29 and hits DVD August 8.


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