Shudder released The Reef: Stalked, a sequel (and I use the term loosely) ten years after the original, on July 29th, just before the end of Shark Week – and it is maybe the worst shark movie I’ve ever seen. I love shark movies. Ever since Jaws made me afraid of even the deep end of my pool, I have been a fan. Until Deep Blue Sea, Jaws 3 was my favorite shark film – which goes to show that I enjoy the schlock factor as well as the blood and gore. The Reef: Stalked had none of that. In preparation for the Shudder release, I watched The Reef – available on Netflix.
The Reef from 2010, available on Netflix, proves that what you can’t see is often scarier than what you can.
The Reef is based on true events that occurred off the coast of Queensland, Australia in the 1980s. The movie is a low-budget Australian survival movie with only six actors that was filmed on location with real shark footage. Director Andrew Traucki is no stranger to the underwater monster genre as he also directed the killer croc movie Black Water.
The Reef is about as heart wrenching as the true story with real emotional pathos driven by the relationships between the characters, and heart stopping suspense as the group travels through shark-infested waters after their boat capsizes in the middle of the ocean. It is a LONG swim as they can’t even see the island they’re aiming for, but once they realize they are being stalked by a large shark (a Great White in the movie, but in actuality it was a 15-foot tiger shark), things get really dicey, and not everyone survives. With a ninety-four minute run time, I recommend this movie to any fan of the genre.
The Reef: Stalked tries and fails to recreate the suspense and emotion of its predecessor
The Reef: Stalked takes its sweet time even getting to the shark. It starts with some lovely underwater footage of friends diving and spearfishing (well, we see the speared fish, but not the spearing). Things take a turn in the personal lives of the women immediately after the first dive, which sets up the trek to a remote Pacific island for a kayaking and diving adventure. It doesn’t take long for the foursome to suddenly run afoul of a Great White shark which stalks them, trying to pick them off one by one.
The Reef: Stalked tries to recreate the pathos of the first film by including complicated familial relationships, but it doesn’t work. These characters are so flat and the acting so bad, I never cared about any of these women enough to be upset about their impending doom. The shark footage is awful, the attacks completely unrealistic, and the movie as a whole is just boring. A good shark movie, like The Reef, doesn’t need much to entertain – a scary looking shark that is aggressive although still somewhat realistic, characters that you care enough about to not want to watch them die, and suspenseful underwater shots of dangling appendages that may or may not make it into the boat on time. The Reef: Stalked misses the mark in every way – it’s so bad that it’s just…bad.
Whatever you do, don’t swim in these waters. That is 90 minutes of my life I will never get back.
What is your favorite shark horror film? Let me know in the comments!