Sharks! In nature documentaries they're usually aloof animals who casually investigate human divers, rarely looking to attack. In cinematic features, however, sharks are blood-thirsty animals always searching for their next meal of human flesh. They're cold-blooded hunting machines that love stalking their prey and seem to get off on humans gasping in terror as they see that fin slicing through the water. What is it with movie sharks anyway? They're so moody.
'The Reef' is a low-budget Australian shark horror movie about people who come face-to-face with stock footage of a great white shark attacking them.
A group of five friends set out on a sailing boat in the Great Barrier Reef. Luke (Damian Walshe-Howling) has what has to be a made up job. He flies around the world delivering nice boats to rich people. This time he's decided to take his friends with him. Joining him on this pleasure cruise of doom are Matt (Gyton Grantley), Suzie (Adrienne Pickering), Kate (Zoe Naylor), and Warren (Kieran Darcy-Smith).
The five friends are having a grand old time. Soaking up the Australian sun, taking in the sights of the open ocean. It's nothing but smooth sailing. That is until they run aground on a reef out in the middle of nowhere. The boat capsizes, stranding the five of them out in the middle of the ocean. Luke is convinced that the boat will end up sinking and convinces three of the his friends (Warren is too much of a wuss) to swim for the nearest island which he guesses is somewhere over there… or is it over there? Oh well, we'll just swim and hope we hit land before we all die horrible deaths.
'The Reef' would be a decent thriller in the same vein of 'Open Water' if it wasn't a) so dreadfully boring for the first 20 minutes and b) if it wasn't the exact same movie as 'Open Water.'
As the group gets further and further out to sea, they soon feel like they're being watched. Indeed they are, a great white is circling them just waiting for an opportune moment to start picking them off one by one. Even though I sometimes laughed at the overly dramatic holy-crap faces the women make in this film, if I were in the same situation I would have soiled my wetsuit long ago.
As you may have guessed, the shark starts attacking people, and the movie starts splicing low budget scenes of actors together with stock footage of a great white shark swimming and lunging in attack. It's all quite terrifying.
There's no hope for the extraneous characters as they begin to be pulled under by the murderous shark. Too bad they didn't try shark tonic on this shark. It could've maybe saved their lives. They need to watch 'Shark Week.'
People who are obsessed with shark related terror may find 'The Reef' amusing. It has its tense moments and it's hard not to picture yourself in the same situation. In the end, this movie has already been done and 'The Reef' offers nothing new.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment brings 'The Reef' to Blu-ray on a 25GB Single Layer disc. The case indicates that it's a region A only release.
Image Entertainment's 1080p transfer of 'The Reef' looks as good as one would expect for a low-budget handheld camera affair. Close ups reveal a good amount of facial detail such as freckles and day-old stubble. Mid-range photography is a bit soft and doesn't feature the crispness that the close ups do.
Some of the shark footage looks noticeably different from the footage of the actors. This is likely due to the fact that the shark footage was filmed completely separate from the scene with the actors. It makes sense, although it kind of pulls you out of the movie when it happens. There isn't much in the way of bright colors, simply because the actors wear black wet suits and swim through the ocean for the entire movie. Blood occasionally bubbles to the surface whenever another character gets eaten, which offers a nice addition of lively color.
The transfer is clean from any annoying artifacts or debris. Blacks aren't as deep as they could be, often times crushing out clearly defined edges. Delineation is sub par. Shadows feel like they swallow up instead of accentuate. It's a sufficient, but underwhelming video presentation.
Image has graced 'The Reef' with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix that neither disappoints or wows. It's just about average in every way possible.
Dialogue is intelligible for the most part. Directionality isn't overly impressive, but does its job when frantic people scream about sharks out of frame. There isn't much in the way of surround sound simply because there isn't much in the way of anything out on the open sea. The surrounds offer some ambience when the boat crashes and when gulls caw in the distance. When the shark gets closer and closer they lightly splashing water can be heard panning through the soundfield adding some audible terror to the experience.
Like the video presentation, the audio presentation won't knock your socks off but you could do worse. Image usually puts out decent releases, even if the movie is lackluster.
There's nothing that sets 'The Reef' apart from movies such as 'Open Water' which go for a more intimate horror experience where people tread water hoping that sharks won't mistake their flailing legs for yummy treats. Unfortunately for them, movie sharks are always ill-tempered and will usually eat you, but will always play with you first. It's like they actually play the 'Jaws' theme in their heads while circling the group of frantic swimmers. I don't think I'd ever recommend 'The Reef' to anyone, but will say it is most likely for those shark horror enthusiasts out there who like to see swimmers treated like gummy fruit snacks.