"The Reef: Stalked" doesn't go far enough in either direction for a shark thriller

The Reef: Stalked (2022)

There’s always something exciting about the prospect of a new shark-attack thriller. Lucky for us fans, they seem to come annually or even biannually. Of course, a high bar isn’t cleared every time—there’s a "Ghost Shark" and "The Requin" for every "The Shallows" and "The Meg"—but if a shark is hunting beautiful people, we’re there. They can be nerve-jangling survival stories that actually strive for genuine terror, or they unapologetically go full-on gore-palooza. But whatever tone or aim, all shark-centric movies know not to even try touching that big granddaddy of ‘em all (hint: a scrappy kid named Steven made it in ’75 and scared audiences out of the water). 

After "Open Water" but before "47 Meters Down," there was the 2010 Australian import “The Reef.” Directed by man-vs.-nature story filmmaker Andrew Traucki, it was a no-frills, reasonably tense survival thriller that doesn’t make you want to sail on a yacht along the Great Barrier Reef any time soon. To complete his track record of making an in-name-only-with-a-colon follow-up to a based-on-a-true-story nightmare ("Black Water" and "Black Water: Abyss"), writer-director Traucki is back for "The Reef: Stalked," a decent but technically uneven time in the water that only does the bare minimum. 

The setup is a little like Neil Marshall’s "The Descent": a group of girlfriends goes scuba diving in the ocean instead of spelunking in a cave system before a family tragedy changes everything. Instead of a "Final Destination"-style car accident, Nic (Teressa Liane) ends up finding her sister, Cath (Saskia Hampele), dead in the bathtub, having been drowned by Cath’s abusive husband. The writing was on the wall, but Nic was too late. Nine months later, Nic is still unable to process what happened to her sister. We know this because Nic can’t even put her head underwater without picturing her poor sister taking her last breaths. Read the rest of the review at Horror Obsessive.

Grade: C

RLJE Films and Shudder are releasing “The Reef: Stalked” (93 min.) in theaters, on demand and digital and streaming on July 29, 2022.