The film begins with a tragic incident, revealing to Nic (Teressa Liane) that her sister is in an abusive relationship. Nic witnesses the horrific consequences of this relationship, leaving her with the desire to run away and attempt to start her life afresh. Nine months later, Nic returns home to be reunited with her best friends, Lisa (Kate Lister) and Jodie (Ann Truong), and her younger sister Anne (Saskia Archer). As the group catch up, they decide to go on a kayaking trip into the Pacific Islands in honour of Nic’s older sister. Nic and her big sister used to share multiple kayaking adventures in the past.
As the four begin their journey and revisit memory lane, we learn that Nic still suffers from trauma and has reoccurring flashbacks. Despite this, she continues to push through with the adventure. However, while the water and the views around the four are stunning and exciting, it’s not long until the group discover they are being “stalked” by a gigantic great white shark with a thirst for blood. Now, these four friends will need to work together to try and survive.
The Reef: Stalked is best described as a thriller with some drama and horror. For those unaware, this film also serves as a sequel to The Reef from 2010. If you have not seen the previous instalment, the good news is it’s not a critical factor you’ve missed it. The new sequel focuses on brand-new characters who are obviously in a sharky situation. This film has once again been directed by Andrew Traucki, who is also credited as the film’s writer. Andrew’s previous work includes Black Water and Black Water: Abyss, so naturally, it’s no secret that Andrew has a thing for making films about scary underwater monsters.
As a new film, it carries many pleasing and creative aspects. Firstly, the performance from Teressa Liane as Nic is great. She brings a character to life and portrays dealing with the various emotions well. It’s not just a matter of dealing with tragedy within her own family; now, she’s tackling a giant shark. I’m happy to report the actress did a wonderful job on-screen. Scenery, including various shots via drone or aerial footage, is also excellent, and these shots set the world and scenario up wonderfully. The majority of the underwater shots are also fun and creative.
Regarding the thrills, some moments did scare and frighten me. The film includes moments that are attempted jump scares, and naturally, the shark itself dishes out all the horror. Due to editing, though, the shark doesn’t always feel convincing. The shark shots don’t always look like they are in the same waters as the group of girls screaming with fear. This issue occurs quite often, and sadly it does remove any realism that I hoped for in the film. Character’s emotions sometimes seem vague and are perhaps not shown at all. Even when the group has just come near to death, their dialogue is spoken with such a tone that audiences may wonder if they even saw a real shark. Some moments may come across as slow, but the film enjoys building its characters up, and tension is only around the corner. Nevertheless, there’s a fun story to be had even if, by now, these types of films feel more familiar.
Overall, while shark movies are becoming familiar territory, I found this sequel carried a few new creative ideas and aspects when it comes to thrills. Those who have previously experienced and loved Andrew Traucki’s work (like me) will know what to expect- a brainlessly entertaining time with moments of thrills and horror. I love the look of this film; it’s bright, colourful, and easy to watch. The top performance from Teressa Liane is also great. I enjoyed seeing her character carry a lot of emotion while battling a massive great white. There’s also a theme here that was unexpected and pleasing to witness. Sure, there are a few questionable aspects relating to emotions from other characters and the editing between shots of a deadly shark and characters attempting to survive. Nevertheless, it’s still a highly worthy film to support on the big screen, and Andrew succeeds with another solid achievement for Australian cinema.