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Review: The Reef: Stalked (2022)

The Reef: Stalked (2022)

Directed by: Andrew Traucki

Premise: A sequel to the 2010 film. A group of women kayaking between Pacific islands are stalked by a great white shark.

What Works: A lot of stalked-by-sharks movies have been released in recent years and 2010’s The Reef was among the best of them. One of The Reef’s outstanding qualities was the way it integrated the actors with real shark footage. That continues to be the case in the follow up. The Reef: Stalked has some very effective visuals that convincingly create the illusion that the shark and these actors are in the same space. The movie has some tense sequences especially in its first half. Shark attack movies are about the atavistic fears of being eaten and of the unknown. The images of women on rickety kayaks surrounded by a vast ocean effectively creates an atmosphere of dread and the shark attacks of Stalked’s first half are executed well.

What Doesn’t: The Reef: Stalked is a sequel in concept and name; the end of the first film didn’t lead anywhere and the second movie introduces a new cast of characters in a new location with a slightly different scenario. The original Reef picture was distinguished by its grim tone. It had more in common with Open Water than it did with Deep Blue Sea. The second movie shifts the tone to be more action oriented, which in itself is fine, but in doing so Stalked becomes much less credible and occasionally stupid. It’s evident that the filmmakers only had enough concept for half a movie; the women reach land midway through Stalked and they are forced to go back out on the water to get medical help for an injured swimmer. The second half of the movie is strained. The characters make silly decisions and they attempt a ludicrous plot to kill the shark. The action of Stalked’s second half doesn’t make sense. Shots don’t come together to form a coherent scene. These women are on a rescue mission but there’s no urgency to their trip; the injured swimmer is at best an afterthought. The film tries to do something with its characters and begins with a lengthy prologue that introduces the women and establishes a personal conflict. None of this is very interesting or involving. The women are well characterized and the personal crisis adds little to the movie.

Bottom Line: The Reef: Stalked has a great first half but falls apart in the second half. It lacks the primal terror of the original film and its attempt to be more action oriented just makes it less believable.

Episode: #912 (August 7, 2022)