Creating an original, elevated horror sequel that not only capitalizes on the tension and fear that the series’ original movie created, but is also entertaining and thought-provoking in its own right, can be a challenge for any filmmaker or actor. In the new drama, ‘The Reef: Stalked,’ the follow-up to the 2010 horror movie, ‘The Reef,’ actress Teressa Liane’s protagonist of Nic must not only contend with her sister being a victim of domestic violence, but then also fight to save her own life against a vicious great white shark.
Besides Liane, ‘The Reef: Stalked’ also stars Ann Truong, Saskia Archer, Kate Lister and Tim Ross. The sequel was written, directed and produced by Andrew Traucki, after he also penned, helmed and produced ‘The Reef.’ The follow-up is now playing on Digital and On Demand and streaming on Shudder, courtesy of RLJE Films.
‘The Reef: Stalked’ follows Nic as she tries to heal after witnessing her sister’s horrific murder. After spending several months healing around the world on her own, she travels to a tropical resort with her friends in their native Australia for a kayaking and diving adventure. Only hours into their expedition, however, the women are terrified to realize that they’re being stalked by a great white shark. To survive, they will need to band together, and Nic will have to overcome her post-traumatic stress and face her fears.
Liane generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘The Reef: Stalked’ during an exclusive interview over Zoom. Among other things, the actress discussed that she was interested in playing Nic in the film because she relates to the character’s emotional journey, and her fight to keep going and take care of people, throughout the story. Liane also mentioned that she appreciated Traucki’s openness to allowing her and her co-stars to make suggestions about their characters throughout the drama’s production.
ShockYa (SY): You play Nic in the new horror sequel, ‘The Reef: Stalked.’ What was it about the character, as well as the overall script, that convinced you to take on the role? How did you become involved in the film?
Teressa Liane (TL): I really loved the character; it was the first thing that really drew me to the film. When I was reading the script for the first time, I could see myself as this person. I think her emotional journey throughout the story, and her fight to keep going and take care of people, is something I relate to; I know that I also have that protective nature. If I really care about someone, I want to look out for them.
I also loved that this story is about friendship and the strength of these four women, who have such different personalities, as they come together. That idea just works. Also, knowing that the story was going to have these women be active, fun and energetic was amazing; I’m always drawn to stuff like that.
The stunts also drew me in. Any chance to learn a new skill is always good, too. The opportunity to also work close to home was definitely another draw.
SY: Speaking about the stunts you performed, the movie features Nic traveling to a tropical resort with her friends for a kayaking and diving adventure. What was the experience like of creating your physicality and stunt work for the thriller?
TL: I was lucky to know a little ahead of time that we were going to be shooting this, so I had about six weeks of preparation time. I was able to get into swimming training and make sure that I was ready. I wasn’t sure what they were going to ask us to do during the shoot exactly, but I wanted to make sure I was prepared, anyway.
When we got to the location, all of us girls had about a week of kayak training. We essentially tried to figure out when we would be in the boat or the water before we began filming because we knew that once we started filming, it was going to be a very quick shoot.
SY: Speaking of the fact that the characters are so different, ‘The Reef: Stalked’ also stars Ann Truong, Saskia Archer, Kate Lister and Tim Ross. What was experience like of collaborating with them to build their characters’ unique personalities and relationships?
TL: It was awesome. On the first day, we all got together and went to a local café, where everyone started chatting really quickly. It’s crazy how it came together. We had a chat about the work and the characters, and then we started talking about everything, including what inspired us to start acting as a career.
The dynamic naturally evolved, and I think that connection really helped us when we were out there filming these long days out on the water. We all supported each other.
I think the people they cast for this were so perfect for each of their characters. They’re also genuinely good people, and I’m still in touch with all of them.
SY: Like you mentioned earlier, the film is set, and was shot, in your native Australia. What was the experience like of shooting the drama on location there?
TL: It was definitely exciting when we found out that we would be filming on location in Bowen, Queensland. It’s such a beautiful place, which I’ve never been to before. We woke up every morning about 4 or 5am, so it was still dark and we couldn’t really see anything. But then we’d go in and get into our costumes, and also get our make-up and hair done. Then as we were walking out, the sun was coming up, and it was this beautiful landscape.
It was one of those things you can’t complain about, even though the days were very long and it was a very physically demanding shoot. But at the end of the day, we were very lucky to have that view, and we knew it.
SY: ‘The Reef: Stalked’ was written and directed by Andrew Traucki. What was your experience like of collaborating with him on the movie?
TL: I’ve seen a couple of his films, particularly in preparation for the audition, so I kind of got an idea of how he likes to shoot. But meeting him was actually very helpful; we had a chat just before I signed onto the film.
He tried to give me a heads-up on how quick the shoot would be. He also shared that he chose the people he cast in the film because he either trusted what they had done in their audition or there was something about them that was similar to their characters. He pretty much says that when he chooses you, he trusts what you’ll do with the character.
So he was super open to collaboration, which was a huge thing. We got to work on the script together during that first week of rehearsal and training. He really let us know how open he was to us changing lines or certain words that didn’t feel right. He pretty much said, “When we start filming, it will be, this is pretty much what we’re working with.” We got notes to change some things here and there while we were filming, but overall, it was a pretty technical shoot, so he had to mainly stick to what we decided on during the rehearsals.
SY: What was the experience like of collaborating with the drama’s cinematographer, Justin Brickle, to determine how you would shoot the feature, particularly when you were filming the stunts and sequences in the water?
TL: It was a lot. Like I said, it was a physically-demanding shoot, but the emotion is pretty much what got to me the most every day. It was this state of reaching emotional exhaustion on most days because of the subject matter.
Having so many women on set, as well, with this kind of story, was also so important. The story deals with domestic violence and PTSD. It was something we could all feel on set on certain days, as it was being spoken about, as the scene was mentioning something about those subjects. So it was a particularly heavy set some days. For us actors, we were either at this high level of anxiety or fear, or there was a real sadness, particularly for my character. So it was pretty exhausting.
SY: Like you mentioned, there are many women who worked on ‘The Reef: Stalked,’ particularly as part of the cast. Why do you feel it’s so important to have such a female-driven action movie?
TL: I loved that aspect of the film. I think this is the first thing I’ve done with a predominately female cast. I got lucky that the other girls are really great people. But I also loved the idea of having these completely different personalities work so well together, and not pitting anyone against each other, just for the sake of drama. I think it’s a really cool way to tell stories, and show that women are there to support and love each other.