It’s girls gone wild with sharks, demons, and aliens.
THE REEF: STALKED (2022)
A sequel to the 2010 film The Reef in name only, The Reef: Stalked is a reminder that the shark subgenre of movies started by the Open Water films years ago is running out of oxygen. There’s simply nothing new that can be done with the idea of a few people stranded on a tiny piece of something in the middle of the ocean while surrounded by a shark or sharks.
Making matters worse is the main character’s struggle in this one. Her sister was drowned in a bathtub, so now…SHE has PTSD consisting of visions of the drowning event even though she was not there when it happened.
The fact is, the shark is a metaphor for the main character finding the courage to stand up to her sister’s abuser.
I really can’t with this movie.
As she struggles to deal with her grief, she goes kayaking with four friends. The shark shows up. People fall off kayaks. Some die. The surprise here is that the girls get safely to an isolated island. But then they decide to take a tiny motorboat to another island. The boat has a leak. The motor dies. The girls have to fight the shark…with a fishing net and a machete.
Like seriously, how many times in one movie can you watch scenes of a shark nearly chomping on someone’s legs just as they’re pulled back on a boat and still feel a sense of dread?
It cracks me up that so many reviews on IMDb accuse this film of being a poor attempt at cashing in on the way Stranger Things captured the glory days of 80s horror. News flash—horror movies have been doing the retro 80s thing for like the past 20 years…the responsibility for that does not land solely on the shoulders of a show that had one good season before becoming an increasingly bloated, self-indulgent mess that mostly deserves credit for merely reigniting interest in a handful of cool 80s songs. I mean, when every episode in a season of your show is a 90 to 120 minute movie, you’ve really started to think way too highly of your creation.
As for Revealer, it is pleasantly understated in its immersion in the 80s. It takes place in the 80s, there are a few 80s style songs (including a track by Gun Ship), the movie CHUD is mentioned in passing, and there’s plenty of 80s horror lighting, but there is no over-the-top attempt at the 80s look that plagues many films that try to go for authenticity but end up coming across like a bad mockery of the decade.
Having said that, this is also an understated horror flick that focuses on just two female characters. In a way it reminds me of Night of the Comet, but it’s more about two girls from opposite ends of the morality spectrum coming together to fight a demonic presence while learning to respect each other.
One is a stripper, the other is a religious protestor who always harasses the stripper outside her place of business. When an apocalyptic event takes place, the two girls become trapped together in a peep booth, where they are terrorized mostly by demonic snakes, but occasionally by a big devilish looking dude that we barely get a glimpse of.
There are definitely some fun phallic snake moments here, but this is notably character driven as it explores the growth of these two characters and their eventual understanding of each other as they try to survive their horrific circumstances. It’s kind of like a chick flick with demons.
THE SEED (2021)
The Seed goes for a trendy girls vs. alien life forms horror comedy vibe. It’s entertaining enough, however, it isn’t a very original film, and it’s also incredibly slow in getting to the guts of the horror—54 minutes before things really take off.
Sticking to predictable stereotypes, we have three girls heading to a house in the desert to witness a meteor shower: two blonde bimbo social medial influencers and their geeky smart brunette friend. Another odd moment that’s either tone deaf or an intentional comment on just how tone deaf white people are is a dancing montage of these three white girls partying to a hip hop song that repeatedly drops the “n” word. If it was done to make a point, it failed miserably because it just ends up feeling really weird. Some sort of snarky comment about appropriation from the geek girl and oblivious offense at the accusation by the blondes may have made the point better…if there was a point trying to be made.
Is there some funny banter between the girls? Sure. Is it funny enough to carry us through 54 minutes without any true horror? Not quite. But at least we get some horror elements to help us along.
The meteor shower happens and a rock thing plops into their pool. Within a short time, a little baby creature pops out of it, but they can’t take advantage of their discovery and make themselves go viral because the meteor shower seems to have cut off their connection to the internet.
Eventually, the little baby creature starts telepathically controlling the girls one by one. With only three girls, it’s no wonder it took 54 minutes for this to happen in a 90-minute movie. The little baby creature runs out of girls to control fast considering it still needs to leave us with one final girl pretty.
There’s some gushy icky fluid stuff as the meaning of the title becomes clear (as if you couldn’t guess), and naturally the final girl has to make some major decisions concerning saving her friends and saving the world.
The Seed will keep you entertained, but you probably won’t feel the urge to revisit it.