Alfred Hitchcock once explained the nature of suspense by describing a scenario where the audience see a bomb being planted and therefore knowing that during the subsequent scene it will go off at any moment. The Reef creates its thrills in the same way. We know that the characters are in shark-infested waters while they attempt to swim to land after their boat has capsized. We know an attack is inevitable but we don’t know how, when and who will survive. It’s nerve-wracking stuff.
The Reef is written, directed and produced by the very talented Andrew Traucki, who was also one half of the team behind the underrated yet equally impressive crocodile film Black Water. Actual shark footage and footage of the actors are blended together seamlessly with advanced blue screen technology and skilful editing, removing the need for CGIs and making the threat real and immediate. The characters are convincingly developed, likeable and well acted so that we genuinely feel concern for them. The Australian tourist industry will hate it but The Reef is an extremely effective watery horror/thriller.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 376, 2011