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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Reef

     Going in to the Australian indie horror flick THE REEF the other night, I was expecting another OPEN WATER. Both of these movies are low-budget affairs with unknown actors and both are about people terrorized by sharks. And, both movies are based on two seperate but supposedly true stories. I know OPEN WATER doesn't have the greatest reputation among horror movie fans, although I personally enjoyed it.  However, I am thrilled to say that THE REEF takes what OPEN WATER hinted at and took it far and beyond.  It's a full-blown horror movie that manages to be downright scary and frighteningly tense- I actually found the suspense almost too much to bear at times.  And this stuff is right up my alley.

     It starts off in typical genre fashion- introducing the rather bland cast of characters to basically show us who's going to be swimming for their lives in twenty minutes or so.  There is some minor character development here, although just enough to warrant some sympathy down the line. It works. Now this being a horror movie, of course something goes awry in the opening scenes and becomes the setting for terrors to come. In this case, the characters' boat runs aground on an upraised barrier reef and overturns, leaving the characters stranded in the ocean with two rather unsettling choices- stay on the overturned and slowly sinking boat in shark-infested waters, or take the risk of blindly swimming roughly twelve miles to unseen shores in shark-infested waters. What do you do? One out of the five stays on the boat, while the other four risk it and take off swimming.  And it's not long before they realize that they're being followed by a huge Great White. A very hungry one. This is where THE REEF kicks into overdrive and becomes a frightening exercise in terror and suspense.

     What truly makes THE REEF so effective is that the filmmakers didn't use any CGI for the making of this film. The shark scenes are by far the most realistic and scary I've ever seen in any movie. The actors truly had to contend with actual sharks while filming, and footage of the actors are very convincingly combined with footage of a real Great White Shark. The effect is amazing. There is not one second that you don't believe everything you're seeing in this film. The scenes of the Great White circling the group and attacking are so chilling and real that they are a startling reminder of why people are still to this day so terrified of these creatures. It's a situation I would most definitely not want to be in. This is truly intense stuff- and by far the best shark film besides the original JAWS that I've ever seen. We were scared silly watching this movie, it was really that frightening. If you are afraid of sharks or deep, dark water, then this might not be the film for you. But if you are a fan of brutal, agonizing suspense and dread that never lets up for one second, take a swim in THE REEF.  It's very reminiscent of that other indie Australian horror flick from a few years back that I loved so much, BLACK WATER. Those Aussies! Good, dark stuff.

Monday, January 2, 2012




     What the trailer for "Friday the 13th" would look like if it were released today...


I've never been a big fan of the "SAW" films.  I remember watching the original back in 2004, and I remember liking it, but for whatever reason I never really felt compelled to watch any more of them.  However, I recently went back and re-watched "SAW", and I have to say I have a new found respect for the film.  My opinion has changed.

     I found "SAW" much more entertaining the second time.  Maybe I just wasn't in the mood when I saw it years ago.  Anyway, this time I was completely sucked in the first 5 minutes of the film, and honestly couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen.  As I'm sure everybody knows by now, the film starts with two men waking up chained to a bathroom pipe with a dead man lying on the floor between them.  It doesn't take them long to figure out they are prisoners in the lair of serial killer, nicknamed 'Jigsaw'.  It's a sick and gory thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat every second of the way.  I marveled at how scary and creepy it was-I mean, that weird, clown doll slowly riding in on that tri-cycle is the stuff of nightmares. Super creepy.  And "Saw" is very reminiscent of "Se7en"- they both have that gritty and grimy look to them.  It really is a nasty little movie. 

      Looking back, I see it as a smart and engrossing little thriller that's far more than just your average slasher movie. It's not entirely original, but it doesn't matter. Maybe the acting isn't the greatest either, but it was a low-budget film by a first time director and I think the brilliance of the story and script more than make up for it. One minor complaint that I have of the original "Saw"is the editing.  They could have slowed down the pace of the film, and stretched out the tension maybe a bit more.  I prefer a slow burn most of the time- "The House Of The Devil" is a great example of how sometimes slow but  sure can be much more effective.  The almost frenetic editing of the film can be a bit annoying- but like I said, it's a minor complaint.  "Saw" is still extremely engrossing and entertaining.  

     Obviously "Saw" struck a nerve with audiences- released in October of 2004, the film eventually grossed over $100 million worldwide and becoming one of the most profitable horror films since the original "Scream" back in 1996.  Of course they green-lighted a sequel, and audiences happily went on to make the annual "Saw" entry a Halloween staple.  For some reason the franchise started to annoy me and I never truly gave them a chance.  Which is why I went back and re-watched the original.  The greatest horror movie ever?  Of course not.  Do I think it deserves 24 sequels?  No way.  But... I honestly did enjoy watching it the second time around.  Funny how opinions can change on movies sometimes.

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