I remember The Reef, but only vaguely. It was another one of many killer shark movies that decided to try and make things more exciting by having the cast in the water with at least one real shark. Written and directed by Andrew Traucki, The Reef was one of those films that you watch once, enjoy or don't enjoy, and then never really think about rewatching. It managed to be just above average, it is out there in the world, job done. It certainly wasn't a film that I expected to see a sequel to over a decade after it was initially released. Yet here we are.
Traucki returns to the writing and directing duties, and seems to have a habit of waiting thirteen years in between his original films and any sequels that he helms (that same timespan lies between his Black Water and Black Water: Abyss). Unlike his killer croc movies, however, there's no improvement shown here, and nothing to really draw viewers in. Apart from the fact that there's a shark onscreen.
Nic (Teressa Liane), Jodie (Ann Truong), Lisa (Kate Lister), and Annie (Saskia Archer) are four friends who set out to enjoy a kayaking adventure around some gorgeous island waters when a pesky shark starts to view them as a potential snack. That's all you need to know. There's a prologue/framing device that attempts to add some more weight to everything, and one or two extra characters end up getting too close to the shark, but the only thing worth mentioning here is the shark. And maybe Truong, who is generally better onscreen than anyone else.
Not only is the extraneous material in The Reef: Stalked bad, it's quite an insultingly lazy way to try and create more emotional impact for the main section of the movie. It's an unnecessarily dark extra part of the film that will only serve to unsettle those who have been, or are, in that kind of situation. Which wouldn't seem so bad, because films can certainly tackle difficult and uncomfortable subject matter, if it wasn't just used as a cheap way to pad things out, in terms of both runtime and layering scenes with extra meaning.
Nobody does well enough onscreen, Truong aside, to detract from the weakness of Traucki's script, although it's hard to think of what they could have done to overcome the material they had to work with, and there's a disappointing lack of any real tension when you start to see how the killer shark gets into the habit of biting into people and then letting them go, making you suspect that the characters would be more in danger if they accidentally stood on a deadly jellyfish.
Some of the shark footage is decent, that's all I'm going to say as a positive. I have no urge to be kind to Traucki, considering how ill-considered and clumsy the film is. It's lazy and thoughtless, at best, and insensitive and outright cruel, at worst. And it's also a slog, feeling as if it runs for much longer than the relatively brief runtime of just over 90 minutes.
At least it may be another 10+ years before Traucki tries to make another instalment in this film series.
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