Its been 12 years since Andrew Traucki delivered a shark film with a delicious bite and now he’s finally back with a much anticipated follow up? Does he deliver a worthy fishy tale or are we reaching for some Adam West’s shark repellents?
In many ways, once the end credits started to roll on a film that was on my list as one of my most highly anticipated releases in 2022, I had a sudden realisation that this follow up reminded me of Halloween 4.
Comparing Michael Myers to a shark is not new among horror fans as both stalk they prey, each have lifeless black eyes and I could do a whole feature on how both killers are alike, but what I mean is that when Dwight H. Little’s third sequel featuring the return of the killer in the William Shatner mask was released, by then the slasher boom was coming to an end and it felt like Myers himself had missed his own party having sat out on the third (and very underrated) third film.
When THE REEF came out way back in 2010, shark films were still only being released here and there, with OPEN WATER still fresh in the water. Director Andrew Traucki’s offering was released with no hype, but thanks to critical acclaim, it started to create a buzz and thanks to the word of mouth from fans willing to spread the goodwill, the film gained the recognition it fully deserved.
It was probably the last of the dying breed of “shark horror” as three years later the huge success of the tongue in cheek SHARKNADO franchise all of a sudden created a wave of SHARK movies, all going from one extreme to another (GHOST SHARK anyone) all offering gag and surreal moments and while there has been the odd serious addition added into the mix, it seems a Monday doesn’t pass when a new SHARK film hits the market.
With most fans now struggling to tell the difference between one shark movie to another, the fact that twelves years later we finally have a follow up to THE REEF, gives us hope especially as the original director Traucki is back at behind the lens.
Not so much a sequel, but a brand new tale, The Reef: STALKED will appease many fans of the original in terms of the seriousness on show, but you do get the feeling throughout the watch that the now franchise has missed its own boat in making a huge splash.
Its not without its merits though. A staggering horrific opening set-piece that has nothing to do with a shark, sets the mood and establishes character development for Nic (Teressa Liane) who after a shocking discovery is now too traumatised to even put her head under water, never mind resuming her diving she once loved with her group of friends.
But its those same friends who believe it will do her good and soon she along with Annie (Saskia Archer), Lisa (Kate Lister) and Jodie (Ann Truong) head off to the gorgeous setting of a pacific island to do a bit of kayaking, I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
I do have to give credit to Traucki who really does try to put an emotional spin on proceedings and while a few will enjoy that plot angle, most of you will be watching for the shark action and much like the original, STALKED succeeds in delivering some decent scares, mostly because it relies on some proper shark footage, than the poor CGI effects that ruin many films of this nature.
Some will bemoan the low body count, especially a fanbase grown accustomed to seeing the likes of Tara Reid battle in B- movie glory, but its a REEF follow up that doesn’t ruin what came before. A long overdue addition that offers a silent killer lurking in the shadows that feels it should have been released much sooner, before the sub-genre became so bloated…
Much like our trip to Haddonfield in 1988……