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The Reef (2010)

A great white shark hunts the crew of a capsized sailboat along the Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef is a 2010 Australian horror film. It was written and directed by Andrew Traucki, and it is his second feature film (the first being the excellent ‘Black Water’). The Reef is about a group of friends who capsize while sailing to Indonesia. The group decides that their best bet for survival is to swim to a nearby island but find themselves stalked by a great white shark.

I first heard about this movie because it starred a couple of people from one of my favourite Australian TV shows, ‘Underbelly’. The basic plot is about Luke (Damian Walshe-Howling) who invites his friend Matt (Gyton Grantley) and Matt’s girlfriend, Suzie (Adrienne Pickering) to join him as he sails to a coral reef. Also joining them is Matt’s sister, and Luke’s girlfriend, Kate (Zoe Naylor) and fellow sailor Warren (Kieran Darcy-Smith). On the second day of their journey, after some fun snorkelling, the yacht strikes a reef and capsizes when the keel is destroyed. This is when the 4 friends decide to swim for it in the hope of finding help, but Warren decides to stay with the boat, alone.

Despite my slight bias from being a huge fan of the two guys acting in this from their ‘Underbelly’ days, the small cast was fantastic here. It’s hard to make much of an impression when you spend most of the time in the water and only showing us viewers your head bobbing round, but they were very believable in their actions, and the suspense and tension throughout the film was relentless. It was nice not to be able to second guess what would happen and who if anyone (obviously the shark attacked someone right?!) would survive.

Every film with sharks in is immediately compared to Jaws. Comparisons are inevitable, and no film has ever lived up to those expectations. I have even reviewed a few shark films on my site (Shark Night, Bait) but without doubt The Reef is the best film with a shark I’ve seen since Jaws. It’s a serious film, there are no 3D gimmicks, no campy attempts at humour and it isn’t set in a supermarket. ‘Open Water’ was the last semi-decent serious shark film I watched, but that wasn’t about the ultimate shark which is the Great White. It wasn’t very good either, and was a bit dull. Despite the shark not appearing for a while into this film, and even then just being used sparingly throughout the rest of the movie, it never gets boring and as mentioned above, it is filled with tension.

For me, aside from the great cast, the best thing about The Reef was that it was filmed using footage of real Great White sharks, and at times when the group are in the water with the shark nearby, especially the clever underwater shots which we see through the use of a diving mask, it truly looks as though the shark is right next to them. The film was praised for having an animatronic shark instead of CGI, and quite honestly it just worked so well.

The film is reportedly based on the true story of Ray Boundy, who was the sole survivor of a similar incident in 1983. Although, according to Wikipedia so take from it what you will, Rob Gaison, the chief executive of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, was concerned about the film being advertised as “based on a true story” which he felt could hurt the tourist industry for the area. Col McKenzie, the CEO of Association of Marine Park Operators, said that previous films about sharks near reefs attacking people such as Open Water had hurt the tourism industry.

Sure, there are people that have said there is no way the shark would hunt and follow the group for as far as it does. But hell, it’s a shark, the ultimate predator, and it’s great just watching and waiting for it to appear and strike.

The bottom line is that I loved The Reef. Great acting, perfectly cast, a fantastic looking shark and (spoiler!) some blood spilled. If you like a good thriller and don’t mind looking at half-naked good-looking Australian people then I urge you to check out The Reef. I wanted to score this higher, and it is better than some films I’ve scored 7, but 8 is just out of reach. Just. This is a high 7/10, probably like a 7.8/10. Just to clear things up 🙂

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42 Comments

  1. Nice review, this sounds like a good film. Open Water just made me mad when I first watched it because it claimed to be based on a true story, but kills off the characters, leaving no one to live to tell the story; the camera in the belly of a shark did nothing to save that.

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    • Cheers Vincent.

      Yeah, I hear you. Open Water just needed something to happen, and when it did, it was pitch black and we saw nothing. And like you say the ‘true’ element to it was far fetched to say the least.

      With The Reef, its just a great watch regardless how true it is. Scary because it looks so realistic.

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  2. theipc

     /  November 7, 2012

    I almost watched this the other day and didn’t. Instead I watched NIGHTMARES. You make this sound better then the blurb on the TV when I click the “info” button. I’ll have to give it a shot sometime.

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    • Cheers theipc 😉

      My aim is to always sound better than the info button. In the UK, ours is awful, or spoils stuff. Hope yours is better over there!

      Its a good film, but if I liked it, chances are you will detest it lol. Thanks buddy 🙂

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  3. I was pretty intoxicated when I watched this one, to be honest, but I rather enjoyed it. I really got a kick out of this as well as Dark Tide and Bait.

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    • Is Dark Tide the Halle Berry one? Hmmm……I really didn’t enjoy that to be honest.

      Glad you enjoyed this one and Bait though, however intoxicated you were! 🙂

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  4. jmount43

     /  November 7, 2012

    Open Water is loosely based on the couple Tom and Eileen Lonergan. They were left behind while diving with a group of divers after the boat that was carrying the divers departed before the Lonergans returned from their dive. No one noticed that they were gone until two days later and by then it was too late. Their bodies were never found and the presumption is that they died at sea. There is also the suspicion that it was a murder-suicide or double suicide; but that’s never truly been backed up.

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    • A bit like how Wolf Creek and such films are ‘based on true events’ then, as they are about people that have gone missing. The filmmakers just filled in their own blanks so to speak.

      Cheers for that info John, appreciate it. I still don’t like Open Water the movie though 🙂

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      • jmount43

         /  November 7, 2012

        Wolf Creek is loosely based on the abduction of Peter Falconio and the assault of his girlfriend, Joanne Lees by Bradley John Murdoch. Also, elements of the Ivan Milat Backpacker murders played a part. I liked Open Water, but I’ve seen better (The Reef) since then. As for Wolf Creek John Jarratt as the killer was effing chilling.

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        • Yeah I had seen the stuff for Wolf Creek as I researched it for my review of it. Although I still feel it didnt need to say that stuff, as there are loads of people that have gone missing so its already scary. Great film though, and as you say John Jarrett was superb. You looking forward to the sequel?

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        • jmount43

           /  November 7, 2012

          Depends, is Greg McLean directing the sequel? Why is a sequel needed?

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        • Yeah, he wrote it and is directing, Jarrett is back too. The synopsis sounds eerily similar though, bit worrying. Struggling for finance too but they were hoping to film early next year.

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        • jmount43

           /  November 7, 2012

          Eh, maybe.

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  5. I’ve always been terrified of open water since seeing Jaws waaaaaaay to young so this one might create too many new scars, lol. Thank god I don’t live in Australia or I wouldn’t even be able to swim in a public pool for fear of being eaten alive

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    • I’m terrified of spiders, so as much as I always wanted to go to Australia, I think I would be a nervous wreck. Nowhere is safe! Water is full of killer sharks, land is full of spiders, snakes, scorpions and serial killers (according to films!). Think Ill stay in the freezing cold UK 🙂

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  6. Sounds like a cool movie, going to check this out ASAP! I guess im one of the few that liked Open Water and Open Water 2. Nice review!

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    • Hope you like it as much as I did! Don’t get me wrong, Open Water was OK, but the sequel was awful, there weren’t even any sharks! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by buddy!

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  7. gregory moss

     /  November 8, 2012

    Excellent review Tyson! It sounds a lot more serious than Bait – although, as you know I thought Bait was fun in a goofy way. And don’t be put off by the sharks, spiders and snakes which infest Australia – it’s the DROP BEARS you have to worry about! 🙂

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    • Thanks Greg! Definitely more serious in tone, but then I liked Bait too, this was just a very different style.

      WTF is a drop bear???!!!!! 🙂

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      • Drop Bears are related to Koala Bears, but they’re more like Tasmanian Devils. Really viscious – big gnashing teeth, razor claws. They lay in wait in tree branches and drop down onto anyone passing below – ripping out their throats. Actually, it’s just a scary story aussies tell unsuspecting foreign tourists – just to freak ‘em out. They don’t really exist (we’re a jovial bunch, huh?). 🙂 But don’t be put off coming to Oz by all the stories you’ve heard about our local fauna. I’ve only seen a snake once in my life, but never a shark (or croc for that matter). But then again, I never go out bush (or to the beach), so it’s not surprising really. I’ve seen plenty of spiders though. Only a few of them are poisonous and no-one has died as a result of a spider bite in over thirty years – not since antivenene has become readily available. But having said that, there’s no way I’d wanna live in Sydney ‘coz it’s infested with the infamous Sydney Funnel-Web Spider (Google it). These things WILL attack you if they feel threatened and as they tend to hide out in people’s shoes if they get lost – Sydney-siders are regularly bitten. Oddly enough, cats are apparently immune to their venom. No idea why that is – but there you go. 🙂

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        • Evil bastards the aussies 😉 Those bears sounded awesome!!!

          I think I would be fine with anything dangerous, but since I’m arachnophobic I would be a nervous wreck, on edge where ever I was. I even shake my shoes over here, have done for years, since I found a spider in them years ago. No idea how you sleep at night, waiting for an evil spider to bite you in your sleep 🙂

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      • Nah – easy done! – Just whack ’em! 🙂

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        • I cant get close enough to whack them! Literally start shaking. Its so irrational, yet I cant do it. That’s why I love my cat, she eats the ones in our house 🙂

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      • Man, since cats are apparently immune to Funnel-Webs – your cat would be fine in Sydney – if that’s any consolation. Just don’t count on me me visiting you there! 🙂

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        • I think Ill go New Zealand instead. Always looks nice and no threat of spiders 🙂 Australia is somewhere I would love to visit though. Fascinated by sharks, on my honeymoon I spent the entire week in Maldives trying to touch Reef sharks, they swim right up to you. Weird, but fascinating! Anyway thats another story 🙂

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      • Yikes! – that’s a story I’d like to hear one day. Perhaps over a beer in your neck of the woods – one day. 🙂

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    • Definitely! 🙂

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      • Or if I ever do get to Aus, if you clear all spiders within a 10 mile radius Ill stop by!

        Actually planning on doing a post one day on here with my shark photos, too good not to share! Also got a video of my wife in the water and only when we watched it back did we see the shark fin about a foot behind her 🙂 Good times!

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      • gregory moss

         /  November 9, 2012

        Whoa! – that’s pretty freaky, man. I’m pleased Carly was cool with that. And I’ll be sure sure to nuke the site from orbit when you guys arrive! (Just to be sure) 🙂

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        • She had no idea. When it got right behind her I told her and she swam out. Watching it back you can see it getting closer and closer! Amazing footage.

          Good work with the nuking, best to be safe!

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    • Wow man – you gotta post that! And yeah – nothing beats a good nuking! 🙂

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      • Yeah, I doubt I can convince her to let me show the world her in a bikini 🙂 Maybe blank her out and show the shark fin……..Ill sort something out!

        We need to be doing these comments on my new review so it looks popular lol

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      • gregory moss

         /  November 9, 2012

        Popular Schmopular. Doesn’t matter – so long as we’re having fun! 🙂 Hey, I’m about to watch Barry Adamson’s short movie ‘Therapist’. Have you heard of it? Seems like it might be something you might be interested in. I’m gonna review it soon (if I like it, that is). 🙂

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        • No, not heard of it? Look forward to your thoughts on it though, I’ll have to give it a watch depending on your thoughts 🙂

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  8. Glad you liked this one. Awesomely specific rating too.

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  9. I think I’ll have to give this one a watch – make it sound interesting. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it!

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  1. What I’ve Been Watching….. | Head In A Vice

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