Directed by Andrew Traucki, ‘The Reef: Stalked’ is a thriller horror film that serves as a sequel in spirit to Traucki’s 2010 film titled ‘The Reef.’ The former follows the murder of Nic’s sister, Cath, at the hands of her abusive husband, Greg. Suffering from grief and PTSD, Nic leaves the country for the next nine months. Upon her return, Nic reunites with Annie, her younger sister, as well as her friends Lisa and Jodie. Together, the four women go on a kayaking adventure. Nevertheless, things go south when a wild Great White Shark catches their scent and starts hunting them.
This 2022 Australian film brings something new to the classic human vs. animal trope by telling the story through a lens of domestic violence. By doing so, it is also able to set itself apart from its predecessor. ‘The Reef’ is a similar tale of a shark attack based on real-life events. This, in turn, begs the question: is ‘The Reef: Stalked’ also based on a true story? Here is everything you need to know about this movie’s origin! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is The Reef: Stalked a True Story?
No, ‘The Reef: Stalked’ is not based on a true story. The narrative of the movie is driven by the original idea of writer and director Andrew Traucki, who is primarily known for similar movies revolving around wild animals and survival. However, he always has a knack for telling these stories by relating them to reality instead of just focusing on the thriller/horror aspect of them. When working on ‘The Reef: Stalked,’ he wanted to preserve a layer of reality and substance to its plot.
This movie follows the story of Nic as she is left to deal with the aftermath of her sister Cath’s murder. Cath is a victim of domestic abuse, but by the time Nic finds out about it, her husband has already killed her. Throughout the movie, the grief and trauma brought on by her sister’s death constantly plague Nic. She keeps comparing Cath’s struggle against Greg to her other sister, Annie’s struggle against the shark. The same becomes obvious when towards the end, Annie gets trapped in a fishing net with the shark, and Nic’s mind flashes back to Cath’s last moments. In Nic’s mind, the shark is a reflection of Greg.
The parallel between Greg and the shark is intentional and crucial to the narrative. A few years before Traucki started working on ‘The Reef: Stalked,’ he watched a play named ‘Lethal Indifference,’ which is about a woman who was domestically abused and ultimately murdered by her husband. In an interview with Screen Realm, Traucki recalled how he took inspiration from this and realized the potential a shark story can have if used as an allegory for domestic violence.
Additionally, in surfer lingo, sharks are often referred to as “the man in the grey suit.” When on-screen, Greg wears grey clothing furthering his role in the story as that of a shark. Nic loses one of her sisters to a metaphorical shark at the beginning of the movie. She spends the rest of it making sure she doesn’t lose another sister to another shark. One of the major themes in this story is the importance of outside help in matters of domestic violence.
Unlike Cath, the rest of the women in this movie do not have to go through danger alone. They band together, and they protect each other from the attacks of the shark. Since director Andrew Traucki wanted this movie to be an allegory for domestic abuse, he wanted to hammer in this point. When the shark approaches Annie, Lisa is there to help her. When the shark attacks a young girl, Jodie rushes to her aid. Even as the women manage to make it out of the water and onto an island, they decide to go back out there a second time to help the injured young girl — Demi.
Ultimately, ‘The Reef: Stalked’ is not based on a true story. However, it’s an allegory for the countless instances of domestic violence that people face on a daily basis. The narrative, in the end, encourages survivors and victims to seek outside help and to speak out against their abuse. Though packed with a standard shark attack story and classic thriller tropes, ‘The Reef: Stalked’ tells a story of genuine female collaborations and highlights its importance.
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