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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Review: The Reef: Stalked

Director: Andrew Traucki

Screenplay: Andrew Traucki

Year: 2022

The large number of movies about sharks with absurd plots have generated a bad reputation for this subgenre that makes it difficult to take seriously any movie presented with this theme. “The Reef: Stalked” is one of those that stray from the topic of absurd comedies and presents a serious story. 

After a traumatic event, four friends go on vacation to a tropical paradise to enjoy the sea and heal their trauma. While out on a sea kayaking adventure, the friends begin to be stalked by a shark. To survive the attack, the friends must stick together and work as a team to overcome their fears.

Director Andrew Traucki (“The Reef,” “Black Water”) steals a page from director Johannes Roberts (“47 Meters Down”) by offering a sequel to a popular shark movie that is nothing like its predecessor. Although "The Reef: Stalked" seems to be a sequel to "The Reef", the reality is that it is an independent film that uses the name to capitalize on the success of its predecessor. It also seems to steal a page from director Neil Marshall, using a plot very similar to that of “The Descent”, only changing the caves for the ocean and the misshapen creatures for sharks.

Although the plot is quite similar to that of “The Descent”, with a protagonist who recently had a traumatic experience and who, together with her friends, goes to try to heal her wounds with an extreme adventure, their similarities end there. The characters we follow in the development of “The Reef: Stalked” are interesting, genuine, and well-acted, but they don't have the depth (pun intended) that the characters in “The Descent”. The big difference lies in the script.

The most significant barrier between the characters and the viewer is how often the situations they expose seem overly dramatic, and the characters make a series of mistakes in their decision-making that makes it difficult to believe that they are experts in this type of aquatic activity. Another problem is the quality of the special effects and the shark visuals, some of which are very good, but they are interspersed with visuals that seem to be taken from a documentary that could be presented as part of “Shark Week” and some CGI effects from laughter. 

“The Reef: Stalked” is one of the few serious shark movies we've gotten in recent times, and for the most part, it's an entertaining adventure. Its biggest problem is its lack of originality in both its plot and its visuals. The characters are interesting but not enough to load the film and overcome its flaws.

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