The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder/VOD] - THE REEF: STALKED | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder/VOD] - THE REEF: STALKED

the reef stalked review
Four young women's paddling trip is scuppered by the appearance of a shark.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Andrew Traucki

Starring: Teressa Liane, Saskia Archer, Ann Truong, Kate Lister

the reef stalked poster

Australian writer/director Andrew Traucki is best known for his movies Black Water, The Reef and Black Water: Abyss, all of which feature attractive Aussies battling crocodiles or sharks in a scenic setting. For his latest, Traucki has decided to broaden his palette by…nah, who am I kidding? The Reef: Stalked is yet another thriller that features attractive Aussies battling a shark in a scenic setting.

the reef stalked review

Like Black Water: Abyss, The Reef: Stalked is a sequel to its predecessor in name only, with an entirely new set of characters. The villain is still a man, or in this case woman-eating, shark of course. The original was something of a minor success of the shark sub-genre and featured the novel idea of a group of people stuck in shark-infested waters when their boat capsizes. The Reef: Stalked doesn't have such a high-concept premise, and it too often relies on its characters willingly placing themselves in danger.

Four young woman – sisters Nic (Teressa Liane, yet another of those Margot Robbie lookalikes that seem to come off an Australian production line) and Annie (Saskia Archer), and their friends Jodie (Ann Truong) and Lisa (Kate Lister) – meet for a paddling expedition in remote but idyllic waters. While making their way towards an island they discover they're seemingly being tracked by a "man in a grey suit," slang for, you guessed it, one of our finned friends.

the reef stalked review

Dubbing the shark in this way ties into the film's hackneyed theme of toxic masculinity, with the stalking shark compared to a male abuser. A prologue sees Nic discover her other sister Cath's dead body submerged in her bathtub after being murdered by her husband. The experience has scarred her so much that she quit her job as a diver and is only now returning to the water nine months later. Whenever Nic finds herself in a scary shark situation Traucki edits in rapid flashbacks of Cath's submerged body, which just comes off as cheesy. The film never really grapples with Nic's trauma in any purposeful manner – it's simply something for her to argue about with Annie during the lulls between shark attacks.

Said shark attacks are admittedly well realised, with Traucki and editor Scott Walmsley doing a good job of cutting in footage of real life sharks. Seeing a living, breathing shark is always more effective than some CG creation, which always looks dodgy in a water based environment. But such sequences are few and far between, and the film has a major problem in that its cast is so small that there simply aren't enough victims. It's too obvious which characters are going to make it out alive. Traucki puts children in peril to generate some extra suspense, but we suspect he's not the type of filmmaker to have kids eaten alive in his movie.

the reef stalked review

At this point shark movies have been done to death, yet keep propping up the virtual video store shelves. The Reef: Stalked offers nothing we haven't seen in its many rivals over the past few decades, and its attempts to add a social theme simply come off as clunky and misjudged. Jaws IV: The Revenge is well-mocked for proffering the notion that its animal antagonist holds a personal grudge against the human heroes, a ridiculous idea The Reef: Stalked drifts dangerously close to imitating.

The Reef: Stalked
 is on Shudder UK and UK/ROI VOD now.

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