The shark horror movie The Reef is finally getting a sequel after 10 years with filming starting in 2021, but why has it taken so long to make?
Andrew Traucki’s shark horror movie The Reef is finally getting a sequel approximately ten years after its release. With the recent spike in popularity for the sub-genre, it was only a matter of time before The Reef 2 was officially announced, but why did it take so long?
Traditionally, sequels release two to three years after their predecessor. For instance, the second movie in John Carpenter’s slasher horror franchise, Halloween, was released in 1981, three years after the original; the third installment arrived only a year later. Even David Gordon Green’s reboot was set to follow a two year release schedule with 2018’s Halloween and Halloween Kills, which was initially scheduled for 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s a massive franchise such as Carpenter’s or a smaller scale movie series like McG’s The Babysitter, it is more often than not that a sequel arrives sooner than a decade later.
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The Reef follows a group of who set sail to Indonesia. When their boat unexpectedly capsizes after hitting a coral reef, they are left stranded in the middle of the ocean while a great white shark circles below them. As each character gets taken out one by one, Kate (Zoe Naylor) is the sole survivor who is rescued by a fishing boat following the death of Luke (Damian Walshe-Howling). The movie is based on the true story of Ray Boundy, who faced similar circumstances in the 1980s. Shark horror movies don’t accurately depict the oceanic predators, with outlandish depictions that allude to them having a craving for human flesh. The Reef is one of the only movies in the sub-genre that accurately depicts the behavioral patterns of sharks, which may be the reason its sequel took so long to make.
Unlike most shark horror movies, The Reef used real sharks when filming the movie. In doing so, they ensured that their great white was one of the most accurate depictions of the timeless predator in cinema. It is the most recognizable of the species, as it has been featured in classic movies, such as Jaws. While it is by no means the most deadly shark, it has gained a false reputation as being an apex predator. The fact that the original movie utilized an actual shark may attribute to its delayed sequel, as it could be difficult to find actors who are comfortable under filming circumstances that use live sharks, as well as handlers who feel comfortable with cinematic depictions of the creatures as predatory or aggressive.
This might be one of the reasons, but a far more likely one is that shark movie sequels rarely succeed, especially if they are based on true stories. Open Water, for example, is based on an actual case of a couple left stranded in the ocean who are forced to fend off a swarm of sharks. The original movie released in 2003 and was followed up with a sequel in 2006, Open Water 2: Adrift, and a third installment in 2017, Open Water 3: Cage Dive. They are entirely fictitious and unrelated to Open Water. Their titles serve the sole purpose of capitalizing off of the impressive success of the original movie. As of this writing, there has yet to be an official announcement on whether or not The Reef 2 will be based on a true story.
Due to the fact that the shark horror movie sub-genre has reached heightened popularity over the years, it is likely that the sequel has been influenced by prospects of garnering large viewership and money by capitalizing on the emerging trend. The Reef’s sequel is one of the most anticipated horror movie sequels of those announced in 2020 and, given how other shark movies have slowly attempted to correct past wrongs, it’s possible the delay will be a factor in The Reef 2‘s potential success — they might just be taking the time to ensure they get it right.
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