The Reef: Stalked (2022) poster

The Reef: Stalked (2022)


Australia. 2022.


Director/Screenplay – Andrew Traucki, Producers – Jack Christian, Neal Kingston, Michael Robertson & Andrew Traucki, Photography – Justin Brickle, Music – Mark Smythe, Visual Effects Supervisor – Emma Clifton, Visual Effects – Lighthouse Image Works, Park Road Post (Supervisor – Darwin Go) & Phantom FX (Supervisor – Bejoy Arputharaj), Production Design – Dylan Schenkeveld. Production Company – Thrills & Spills/Mysterious Light.


Teressa Liane (Nic), Ann Truong (Jodie), Saskia Archer (Annie), Kate Lister (Lisa), Bridget Burt (Cath), Tim Ross (Greg), Wendy Mocke (Tara), Eca Mocke-Kanaki (Demi), Sophie Naime (Betty), Barney Ling (Winston)


Sisters Nic and Cath return from a snorkel dive, along with another couple Jodie and Lisa. Cath’s husband Greg is waiting to pick her up. Nic goes to their place afterwards only to find Greg has beaten and killed Cath. Nine months later, Nic joins Jodie and Lisa, along with her and Cath’s younger sister Annie, in the Pacific Islands for a kayaking adventure they were originally planning on taking with Cath. However, soon after they depart for one of the islands offshore, the kayaks are attacked by a shark. They are able to make it to the island, helping to rescue a young native child who is bitten by the shark. Realising that the child needs urgent medical attention, the girls seek to make it to the next island to get help but this means a journey across open water in a makeshift catamaran where the shark lurks in readiness to attack.

Andrew Traucki first appeared as co-director of Black Water (2007), a grippingly good Australian film about three people trapped in a tree by a crocodile below. Subsequent to Black Water, Traucki and his co-director David Nerlich parted ways and Traucki went solo with the killer shark film The Reef (2010). He followed this with The Jungle (2013), a Found Footage film about a film crew being stalked by a predator, as well as the G is for Gravity segment of The ABCs of Death (2012), and then returned to make a sequel-in-name-only to the earlier film with Black Water: Abyss (2020). Producers Neal Kingston and Michael Robertson also made another film about survival in shark-infested waters around this time with Great White (2021).

The Reef was Andrew Traucki’s second film, his first as a solo director. It was very loosely based on a true-life incident in 1983 where the skipper of a fishing boat was shipwrecked and had to swim through shark-infested waters, surviving while the rest of his crew was eaten. As in Black Water, Traucki generated a great deal of tension in the scenes of the cast making their swim through waters where sharks lurked at every turn. As he did with Black Water: Abyss, Traucki here returns to make a sequel to his earlier film – in both cases, these are in-name-only sequels with a near-identical premise piggybacking off the success of the first film and offering more of the same but with a different character complement and location.

Teressa Liane, Saskia Archer and Ann Truong in The Reef: Stalked (2022)
(l to r) Teressa Liane, Saskia Archer and Ann Truong in shark-infested waters

The Reef: Stalked often feels like a copycat of the first film. Andrew Traucki employs the same directorial effects – the characters having to swim through open water and the scenes with the shark POV camera creeping up on them, or shots from up from below the water of the swimming group’s legs coming down from the surface with a terrifying vulnerability. We do briefly get some of the shots with people using goggles to search underwater but only in one scene. To his credit, Traucki does mix it up somewhat – he has the characters in kayaks, a makeshift catamaran and a small motorboat rather than swimming in open water but that is the only major difference. The other difference is the locale of the Pacific Islands rather than the Great Barrier Reef (which now renders the reef part of the title meaningless).

As in the first film, Traucki manages to create great tension out of scenes with characters in the water and racing to swim back to the kayaks or catamaran as fins appear behind them. Traucki’s ingenuity in both films is to turn the wide open surface of the ocean surrounding the characters into an arena of fear and suspense from where the shark could literally emerge at any point. When the shark or its fin does appear or the boats start developing a leak, you are on the edge of your seat in tension. The sequel never quite generates the same tension the first film did but fulfils requirements on most grounds.

Trailer here

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