After setting a killer croc on sightseers stuck up a tree in “Black Water,” Aussie helmer Andrew Traucki lets a hungry white pointer shark loose on vacationers stranded in the ocean in “The Reef.” Although better produced and scarier than his previous thriller, Traucki’s sophomore effort is weighed down by thinly written characters and mostly bland dialogue. This perfectly adequate genre piece should chomp its way to respectable biz on March 17 release, where fear of sharks is deeply ingrained in the national psyche. Juicy worldwide ancillary is assured.
Sailor Luke (Damien Walshe-Howling) and his blonde ex-g.f., Kate (Zoe Naylor), are joined by Kate’s brother Matt (Gyton Grantley) and his squeeze, Suzie (Adrienne Pickering), on a cruise around the Great Barrier Reef. After their yacht capsizes, the four attempt to swim to the nearest island. Fatalities en route are impressively staged, but expectations of gripping psychological drama akin to exemplary shark-survival pic “Open Water” are harpooned, as Luke and Kate’s troubled past doesn’t get the meaty workout it requires. Dialogue is far too heavy on lines like, “Did you see something?” Thesps are fine; widescreen HD lensing is topnotch.