Dir. Andrew Traucki
Reviewer. Dan Cook
One of the more effective shark movies to be released in recent years, Andrew Traucki’s tense 2010 Aussie thriller ‘The Reef’ was a standout amongst an ocean of subpar ‘Jaws’ ripoffs and Asylum-funded mockbusters. 12 years later, Traucki has stepped back into the blood-stained waters with THE REEF: STALKED, a spiritual sequel of sorts to his successful sophomore feature that may not quite have the bite of its predecessor yet still delivers agoraphobic scares coupled with some rather good performances.
A female led survival adventure similar in both structure and themes to Neil Marshall’s terrifying 2005 masterpiece THE DESCENT, the movie follows a couple of grieving sisters who, with a small group of friends, go kayaking in the tropical Australian ocean - only for them to end up on the menu of a very hungry and very large great white.
Like the previous film, THE REEF: STALKED uses a combination of pretty extraordinary real life shark footage and computer effects to bring to life the bloody attack scenes and, while nothing especially original, they nonetheless manage to get the pulse racing. One particularly riveting chase sequence certainly had me on the edge of my seat and kept me there for quite a while after it had ended.
But beyond its well choreographed moments of monster madness, it’s the writing and the performances that really elevate THE REEF: STALKED beyond the cavalcade of low budget Z-movie trash that has, for some time now, given the venerable shark movie a bad name. Teressa Laine and Saskia Archer in particular do very good jobs here as Nicola and Annie respectively, the two estranged siblings around whom the story predominantly revolves and who, despite their fractious relationship, must work together to combat the toothy menace that is relentlessly pursuing them. The script also written by director Traucki admirably tries to develop the characters, making them more than just disposable chum for the killer fish and instead actual human beings we can care about and empathise with, helping in turn to make the peril of our leading ladies that much more nerve-shredding.
A disappointingly low body count and a few instances of rather dodge CGI aside, THE REEF: STALKED may follow many of the long-established shark movie conventions but it is a solidly tense and well crafted creature feature nonetheless that will definitely make you think twice before dipping your toes in the sea any time soon.