Howling at Sea
"The Reef" is the sort of movie which you have to have the right atmosphere to watch it in, anything slightly not right and the movie doesn't work. That atmosphere is a dark night where noise is at a minimum and you can get sucked into this drama at sea where the danger comes from sharks, if you don't have that atmosphere then you are going to end up distracted due to the movies sporadic nature. What I mean by that is that whilst there are some impressive scenes in "The Reef" which deliver atmosphere and fear there are times where nothing happens and unless it hooks you early on you will find your mind wandering through these aimless minutes.
Sailor Luke (Damian Walshe-Howling) sets out to see with his friends Warren (Kieran Darcy-Smith), Matt (Gyton Grantley), Suzie (Adrienne Pickering) and Matt's sister Kate (Zoe Naylor) who was once his girlfriend for some fun out at sea. But when the boat snags some rocks and capsizes it leaves them with a choice; wait and hope to be discovered or swim for it and hope they find land. Whilst Warren fearful of what is in the water insists on staying on the capsized boat the rest lead by Luke make a swim for it in the hope they will find land before sharks find them.
When "The Reef" starts we get a message "based on true events" and unfortunately that immediately suggests predictability because of there being a few other similar movies. And in truth "The Reef" plays out exactly as you expect as once we get past a brief attempt to build characters and relationships and then the accident it becomes all about the 4 of them who swim for it and the less than surprising victims along the way. It is very obvious who will end up as shark bait thanks to the focus on the relationships early on and unfortunately those scenes which attempt to show the relationship between Luke and Kate do little to make it come to life.
But here is my problem with "The Reef" because this is a movie where not a lot happens for a long time and then suddenly a flourish of atmosphere and drama followed by nothing again. It is because of this that unless you are hooked by it early on then in those moments of nothingness, such as watching are 4 protagonists swim for it, your mind starts to drift. And that is a shame because the actual moments of drama are impressive, the shark attack scenes whilst minimal are tense and so is an early scene where Luke dives back into the boat looking for supplies. But these scenes are few and far between which whilst that means that when they suddenly appear they are exciting you are longing for more of them.
And that is about it because to be honest the acting isn't remarkable although to be fair it is all solid. But the actual writing of the characters especially those of Matt, Suzie and Warren is so minimal that these 3 are immediate victims just there as shark bait. The one good thing about this is that at least these are not teen characters looking to party as that would have made "The Reef" even more of a cliche.
What this all boils down to is that "The Reef" ends up sporadically entertaining with the big dramatic scenes working well. But because there is a lot of nothingness in between and the characters are not developed enough to allow us to connect it does struggle to keep your attention.
Tags: Shark Movies