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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.


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