It's time once again for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, and I thought I might play along here at the Batcave. It's a well documented fact that one of the few things that I'm actually irrationally terrified of in real life is sharks, but at the same time I'm fascinated by them. I love shark movies, shark attack books, and Shark Week is easily my most favorite week of the summer.
For the first entry into my Shark Week in the Batcave celebration, I thought I'd do a little write-up of the last shark movie I watched, an Australian flick titled "The Reef". I'm going to do my absolute best to keep the comparisons to other shark movies to a minimum, as these type of things annoy me to no end. Why must every single shark movie be compared to Jaws? Yeah, it's the godfather of the genre, but let's be perfectly honest, it's highly doubtful any shark movie will ever be able to live up to the bar it set way back in 1975. If I absolutely had to compare The Reef to another shark movie, I'd probably go with something like Open Water, and still I think there are enough differences between the two to make that an unfair comparison.
The Reef starts off with a group of friends out on a boat scuba diving, and basically living the good life. Something goes wrong and the boat capsizes, leaving the group stranded and being dragged out to sea by the current. With no other viable option, four of the group decides that the only way they'll survive is to attempt to swim to shore, while the other four opt to wait on the boat, and hope that help eventually comes by. As we follow the group that decides to swim, they aren't in the water for long before they spot a great white shark circling. Desperately they struggle to survive in the open water as the shark picks them off one by one.
This movie just works, and does so on almost every level. It's evident that the director wasn't working with a huge budget here, and as such we don't get to see a lot of what takes place leading up to the boat overturning. We are basically thrust right into the situation along with the characters in the movie. There's absolutely no CGI here, all of the shark footage is of actual sharks that were filmed elsewhere, and then cut into the movie. I knew this going in, and was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. The kills are probably what got to me the most, despite the fact that the actors never interact with any sort of sharks, cgi or otherwise. What you get is a fin headed toward one of the stranded swimmers, followed by lots of thrashing, screaming, and a ton of blood. It's incredibly realistic looking, and pretty damn disturbing, for those of us terrified of sharks anyway. The cast does a great job of carrying the movie, which is admirable being that it's basically 76 minutes of people swimming.
A recommended view for any fan of fin flicks, you won't get a lot of gore, but what it lacks in that category it more than makes up for in suspense and overall sense of hopelessness for these characters. Open Water and Jaws comparisons aside, The Reef does enough to distinguish itself in a pretty heavily saturated shark attack genre, and does so taking the "less is more" approach. Just don't expect to see the feel good shark movie of the summer, Soul Surfer this ain't.