The Reef: Stalked follows Nic (Teressa Liane) who after her older sister’s murder goes on a Pacific Island kayaking adventure with her two close friends and younger sister. However, only hours into their journey the four women are hunted by a shark and must work together in an effort to survive. There are countless shark movies that explore the struggle to survive against the dangers of the ocean, but The Reef: Stalked brings something exciting to the genre.
The Reef: Stalked explores very serious topics including PTSD, grief, and domestic violence outside the usual shark attacks. The Reef: Stalked is also unique in that the movie has an ensemble cast made up completely of women.
THE REEF: STALKED STAR TALKS ABOUT HOW THE MOVIE TACKLES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND PTSD
During our interview with Teressa Liane, who stars as Nic, she revealed what drew her to The Reef: Stalked. Teressa explained how she connected with the character of Nic and her excitement about starring in a shark movie that stars an ensemble cast of all women.
“I think the character was the first thing that I really felt drawn to as I was reading the script. At first it was, I was separate from it, but then the more I read into it I could sort of see myself being this person. And just the way that she went about things was something that I really felt connected to, weirdly. And then I guess the obvious thing of there being this group of women being the ensemble of it. I loved that they were pretty much the focus of the film. It’s the shark genre, but I really loved their journey together and also individually what they were going through.”
The Reef: Stalked tackles some surprisingly heavy topics beyond the intense shark attack element. Teressa Liane’s character, Nic, lost her sister to domestic violence. It is clear that while she and their friends may have suspected there was something wrong with the relationship, they were unaware of the extent of her danger. During our interview Teressa Liane revealed that at one time the script included not only the aftermath, but the actual domestic violence itself.
“So, that was something that ended up happening where originally the script did have more of the domestic violence being in that earlier part of the film, but I actually do prefer the way that it’s ended up. Where it’s not necessarily, the seeing of that is not even something that maybe the audience needs or wants to see. It’s actually realizing what that impact was and the message is the fact that what has happened because of that is this great loss. That’s the tragedy of it. And so, I think feeling that instant grief with all of the characters that was really powerful, I thought.”
The Reef: Stalked also explored Nic’s PTSD from finding her sister’s body. Nic’s sister was drowned by her abusive boyfriend and because of this Nic has a new water based phobia. At the beginning of The Reef: Stalked Nic and her sister love the water and frequent water based adventures along with their close friends. Exploring the aftermath of not only Nic’s grief, but the trauma of finding her sister and best friend is a compelling part of her arc. During out interview with Teressa Liane she talked about the research she put into portraying a character struggling with PTSD in The Reef: Stalked.
“That was one of the first things that I wanted to do my study on. It was important to me that I really conveyed that accurately. I wanted it to be something that I understood how it presents, but also where the causes could be and also just what it feels like was important to me.
So, I did lots of research on articles and journals, but also I saw a bunch of footage and clips of people that have gone through things like domestic violence and trauma. And just how they’re existing and living through their days, living with that pain that doesn’t necessarily go away, but knowing that there are things they need to do every day while still carrying that. That was a large part of my work.”
The Reef: Stalked is not the usual shark movie while it does include the classic tropes of a shark hunting the protagonists it also explores PTSD, domestic violence, and is led by an ensemble cast of women. The Reef: Stalked explores a compelling arc for star Teressa Liane as she must face not only a very real fear of the obvious dangers of the shark, but her water related PTSD. The Reef: Stalked brings an intriguing new element to the shark movie genre.
The Reef: Stalked is available now on digital and in select theaters. Are you excited to watch The Reef: Stalked? Are you a fan of shark movies? What do you think about a female led shark movie? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more.