The Reef: Stalked Will Scare Viewers Out Of The Water Once Again

By Chris Hammond

Starring Teressa Liane, Ann Truong, Kate Lister and Saskia Archer
Directed by Andrew Traucki
Written by  Andrew Traucki
RLJE Films

There is no shortage of Sharksploitation films these days. Standing out amongst them is a tall task. Sharksploitation is full of different sub genres of their own. The comedic and absurd (Sharknado), science fiction/horror (Deep Blue Sea). Then, there’s the granddaddy of all shark films Jaws. This film lays the groundwork for everything that follows it. Many films try to follow in the large fins that Jaws have left. There aren’t many that come close to the 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg.

The film also fits under the Ozploitation category too. Ozploitation films are a category of exploitation film made in Australia. Most of these films are low-budget horror, comedy, sexploitation and action films.

The Reef: Stalked is a sequel to the 2010 Australian horror film The Reef, which also has Andrew Traucki helm the director seat. This time around Traucki takes on the task of writing and directing the film. This is a sequel only in name though, as the original film surrounds actual events.

The film starts with Nic (Teressa Liane) after seeing her sister’s horrific murder (drowning in a bathtub). Some time passes and she heads to meet up with her friends for a kayaking and diving adventure. This is a trip to reconnect with friends and to heal from her Post-traumatic stress. Her younger sister Annie (Saskia Archer) surprises her by attending the getaway. Things start out get, but within hours into their expedition, the women pursued. Not by men, but by a brooding great white shark. Nic whose trauma is still skin deep is having a hard time with the water, which she equates with her sister’s violent death. To slay the stalking shark, the friends must come together to outwit the sea beast.

On the surface, The Reef: Stalked is a horror story where a group of friends come together for a fun trip. Things don’t go as planned and a great white shark joins the party. The group of friends must come together to outwit the sea beast if they want to survive. Dig deeper under the surface and there is a story of overcoming devastating trauma. The film casts women in the role of “hero” and shows them in a powerful light. This is not a new concept but is refreshing as so many times the female stars get written as helpless” characters in need of rescuing.

The film checks all the boxes for horror fans. It’s also a nice treat, that the acting is impressive from all involved. Top-notch dramatic acting. Factor in the fact the film takes place in water and the acting doesn’t suffer at all. A level of tension comes through on the player’s faces. This sells what is happening on screen especially, during the shark attack scenes of the film. The fact that the shark elements use real sharks makes it all the more believable.

New Zealand-born, composer Mark Smythe leaves a tension-filled score that compliments the film. It isn’t an easy task to take on the score for a shark film and not have it compared to JAWS. That John Williams score is forever recognized for life in the ears of anyone who has heard it. Smythe’s ever-present score is also unforgettable. The tension that it invokes during the action scenes is undeniable and mesmerizing.

The cinematographer on The Reef: Stalked stunning. The ability to take picturesque locations and transform them into hell on the water is pretty special. The film uses shots from many different angles. In such a way that although the water is endless, the audience may feel very isolated like the characters within.

This is a story of survival and hope. The hope that as bad as things get, they can always get better in the end. It is a story of overcoming tragedy and continuing to live. Unfiltered tension makes The Reef: Stalked a very worthwhile watch. Andrew Traucki knows how to direct and write a well-crafted “Shark” horror film. A film with well-written and acted characters with levels of dramatic appeal.

The Reef: Stalked swims into Theaters, On Digital, On-Demand and Streaming on Shudder on July 29, 2022

Shudder.com

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