Monday, May 14, 2012

The Reef

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Reef - 2 out of 5

Ah the shark horror film...what a staple of the world of cinema.  Ever since Spielberg earned the right to print his own money thanks to the fame of Jaws, every film student graduate has decided to grab a camera, jump into the ocean and make a generic horror movie about sharks and profit off our collective fear of these ocean dwellers who were dealt a bad hand and label man-killers thanks to, ironically, horror films like JawsThe Reef is an Australian horror film based (supposedly) on a true story of a man named Ray Boundy who was the sole survivor of a ruthless shark attack after he and his party were stranded in the middle of the ocean around the Great Barrier Reef.

The dude screams molester.

The film follows five people who go on a trip through the reef.  After a debacle caused by their boat hitting bottom after some erratic currents, their ship capsizes and pulls them several miles from a small island they had enjoyed themselves on not long before.  The group is forced to make a tough decision as all their supplies were ruined when the boat flipped:  They either must sit and wait for Superman to happen by on one of his few trips to the Land Down Under or they try to swim to the island several miles away and not even visible on the horizon.  Four of them take the dive and start breast-stroking their way to the island while one remains behind.  Not long after their journey begins and they are regretting not packing their swim floaties, a stalking Great White shark starts to tail them on a mission of vengeance...or he's out to collect an outstanding debt.  (Those creditors will find you anywhere!)

"Which way is the ocean?"

The Reef is basically a survival horror film--basically, it tries to be a little more realistic than your average horror film but, in reality, it culminates in just being a horror film that involves a lot more scenes of the characters doing very little--in this case, it's four people bobbing up and down in the water.  If you read my reviews religiously (and so help you, you better!), you know I'm not a big fan of the horror genre because I'm a super jaded man who long ago burned out his mental receptors capable of experiencing fear.  That being the case, it's rare to find a horror film that actually frightens me but, for some reason, I keep watching them.  And if a shark is a bad guy in it, you are guaran-damned-teed that I will watch it because chances are good it's going to get silly and laughter is almost assured.  Just look at Deep Blue Sea; until recently, I thought that movie was a comedy.

Hey, it's the Australian Patrick Swayze.

As you can tell from my score, I really didn't enjoy The Reef.  Believe it or not, this film had some potential but I felt it pushed its luck by being a feature length film.  It could have worked as a short film but because the film lacks the meat needed for a Great White to sink its teeth into, the film spends a lot of time padding itself out and when your actors range from being passable to annoying (and there's only 5 main people in the film), these scenes of padding become like fingernails on a chalkboard.  Get used to people treading water through most of the movie and some really bad character development early on as the movie tries to make you care about these lifeless characters in the most survival horror cliche way...by making two of them having some relationship problems that we don't really see but hear them talk about slightly so that when these two characters are inevitably the final two remaining, we see them reconcile in a typical cliche way and admit that their problems weren't that fucking important to begin with--seriously ladies, leaving the toilet seat up isn't that bad of a problem when you consider the possibility that one of you may die from a shark attack in the near future.

The shark looks about as bored as I was during this one.

Furthermore, there's the whole aspect of the shark.  For some reason, this shark is out for blood on these people and acts in a way that goes against everything we already know about sharks.  While sharks are known for stalking prey for long periods of time, they are not know for killing large groups of people the way this film depicts it--tourists groups diving into a feeding frenzy notwithstanding.  Shark attacks happen only as a case of mistaken identity and once the shark tastes our disgusting flesh, he (or she, don't want to be sexist with those sharks) moves on looking for the nearest seal to wash that horrible taste out of his mouth.  Now, like I said, supposedly this film is based on a true story and that the man named Ray Boundy was the sole survivor of a homicidal shark that killed and ate all of his friends but as there is very little in the way of facts for this man's story other than what he claims happens.  I got to wonder if he just didn't kill his friends and leave their remains in the ocean because once the shark tasted one of his friends and realized he's not a tuna or one of the other millions of fish sharks enjoy, it would have moved on and not decided that these people needed to die like they keyed the Great White's car.  I realize this makes me look a tad hypocritical because I like Jaws and that one is in no way a realistic depiction of actual shark life but unlike The Reef, Jaws wasn't sold on the fact it was based on a true story (even though, fun note, the author of the book Peter Benchley was inspired by real events to write the novel).

Get used to this face.  It's pretty much the only one this seemingly nameless character
makes throughout the entire film.

The Reef is sold on the idea that it really happened and a group of people were systematically singled out and killed by some loose cannon shark that probably served in Vietnam (how else you going to explain his psychosis?).  Maybe it's the fact that Shark Week doesn't end when the week is over for me and I still commit myself to learning about these misunderstood beings of the depths but why exactly would the shark act this way?  If this was just out to be a horror film, I wouldn't need an explanation other than the fact the shark is possibly a dick but when it's suppose to be real (I'm telling you, I think that Boundy guy killed his friends and blamed it on a shark) such obvious strays from documented behavior kills the film for me--look at my review of Shark Night--but not as bad as the weak acting or obvious use of stock footage.  In the end, with all these factors working against this movie along with its weak story, The Reef probably would have been better if they took it a little farther and made the shark some genetic super-creation that had heat-seeking missiles (and possibly freaking laser beams) attached to his head.  At least, that way, it would have been easier to laugh at because all I got to laugh at was the weak acting.

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