Despite the title and presence of writer/director Andrew Traucki, The Reef: Stalked is not a sequel to The Reef. Rather, like his films Black Water and Black Water: Abyss they’re unrelated films that share only a common monster, crocodiles in Black Water, and sharks in The Reef.
This time around we’re introduced to diving enthusiast Nic (Teressa Liane, The Spy Who Never Dies, The Vampire Diaries). After she finds her sister Cath (Saskia Hampele, Arctic Blast, Neighbours) dead, drowned in the bathtub by her abusive boyfriend Greg (Tim Ross, Bloody Hell, Wonderland) however that changes.
Nine months later she can’t even see water let alone resume diving, without imagining her sister’s death. Hoping it’ll be therapeutic she joins her old diving crew Jodie (Ann Truong, Hard Target 2, Cowboy Bebop) and Lisa (Kate Lister, Unhinged, The Final Scream), and her other sister Annie (Saskia Archer, Bali 2002) at the beach. Their kayaking trip turns out to be anything but therapeutic however when they’re joined by an uninvited guest, a great white shark.
After a run of films using all manner of excuses to put their potential victims in harm’s way, a house washed out to sea in The Requin, a plane crash in Great White and stolen jet ski’s in Shark Bait, I have to give Traucki credit for keeping it simple here. Just let the cast go boating, no gimmicks needed.
I want to give the audience a tense, thrilling adrenalin ride. I strongly believe that the best way to achieve this is by using suggestion rather than revelation.Andrew Traucki
I also give The Reef: Stalked credit for how it handles the first appearance of the shark. A fin in the water. Two of the women swimming for their kayaks. A dropped paddle. Traucki gets quite a bit of tension out of it. Then he has to ruin it by showing the shark itself. Granted it’s not Requin level awful, but the CGI here isn’t particularly good and it doesn’t match the occasional footage of a real shark.
Despite that, The Reef: Stalked does have a few things going for it. The characters are at least likable which puts them ahead of most of the chum to be in the other films. They may be thinly drawn and not very well developed, but they’re not obnoxious pricks and idiots you want to throw to the shark either.
The Reef: Stalked also has a plot that at least makes some sense and, for the most part, provides logical reasons for the characters to do what they do. Granted it still works in cliches like the outboard motor that dies at the wrong time and a shark that just won’t die. But at least it doesn’t rely on the characters constantly making bad choices or ridiculous plot devices like the ending of The Requin.
The actual attack scenes are well staged and do keep the shark out of sight as much as possible. A lot of viewers will probably feel let down by the fact there aren’t more of them as well as the relatively low body count and lack of gore. I could have done with more of them myself, but The Reef: Stalked at least delivers a good amount of tension and suspense in between the attacks.
While not a great film, The Reef: Stalked is certainly acceptable and watchable if you’re in the mood for yet another shark film and you don’t want to wait for the forthcoming Maneater or take a chance on Sharkula.
RLJE Films will release The Reef: Stalked to VOD and Digital platforms as well as Shudder on July 29th. You can check their Facebook page for more information. In the UK Signature Entertainment will release it to Digital platforms on the same date and on DVD on August 8th.