Friday, September 23, 2011

[SIFF11] The Reef


With the introduction of Jaws, you'd just about know that shark films will probably never go out of date, though with each shark film put out there will be that constant challenge to try and reinvent and go one up against what had gone before. From using animatronics to being computer generated, the Great White has never been more menacing up close, and with news from time to time highlighting incidents when the predator comes close to shores and its razor sharp pearly whites tearing up unfortunate souls, it's stuff of what horror-films are made of.

Written and directed by Andrew Traucki, this Australian film is one of the better ones to have come out in recent years, although it does take a while to get into the scheme of things. Like any film of similar nature (pardon the pun), it goes the distance in trying to establish its shark fodder characters, usually bronzed sculpted folks with model like bodies, since they spend considerable time out in the open. Supposedly based on a true incident, its premise is an amalgamation of Open Water and Adrift with Jaws, or other Jaws inspired shark attack films, that involves a group of five who are out at sea to enjoy a round of snorkeling, only for their boat en route back to suffer a deep gash on its bottom no thanks to the titular reef.

So the reef provides them a lot of grief, since they're stuck out at sea, with no plane, ships or civilization in sight. Worse, the waters they are in is shark infested, so to get out of their predicament they have to either stay put and hope for the best before they dehydrate, or make a swim for it to the nearest coast which is miles away, meaning if one hasn't been exercising, it's as good as knocking on death's door. The naughty Great White here is one playful chap who plays with his food very much like foreplay before going in for the kill, and it is here that this film excels in its gory factor, although much is left to your mind and imagination than to show you upfront other than red waters.

Andrew Traucki successfully puts you into the thick of the action, as if you're one of the party members fighting for dear life. Close up framing is used for the most parts to keep everything claustrophobic and tight even though the vast waters provide that sense of space to nowhere. The predator of the film also springs out of nowhere often enough to make you jump, and this gets balanced with moments where the director holds your anticipation quite expertly, before showing you glimpses of the inevitable when the shark goes after our human sitting ducks, who aren't armed, nor know what to do to try and repel an attack. The only inexplicable task anyone does, is to put on a pair of goggles to try and see where the attack would be from, but that's it.

Don't expect too much from this film since it plays on the shark attack thriller genre with much aplomb, with a little bit of time set aside for the usual bickering humans undergo when put under stressful situations. There's a 3D film called Shark Night coming out soon, so let's see if the recent technological fad can add an extra dimension to this genre of movies.

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