It’s summertime and what better way to celebrate the hottest time of the year than with a shark flick? In Andrew Traucki’s latest film, THE REEF: STALKED, Nic (Teressa Liane) travels to a tropical resort with friends in an effort to heal herself after witnessing her sister’s horrific murder. Only hours into their kayaking and diving expedition, the women are stalked and then attacked by a great white shark. To survive, they will need to band together and Nic will have to overcome her post-traumatic stress, face her fears and slay the monster.
For the release of THE REEF: STALKED, which we’ve reviewed here, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew had the chance to chat with actor Teressa Liane about her latest role in the shark survival film. During the conversation, they discussed everything from the emotional storyline of persevering when all seems lost to the difficulties and unpredictability of filming in the ocean.
Thank you for speaking with me today, Teressa. I’m a huge fan of aquatic horror, especially shark films. How does it feel to be in your first shark film?
Teressa Liane: I love shark films. I think there’s something really fun about the genre, and I’m excited about this one. I feel like we’ve got a combination of things going on in it so it’s got that element of things, but it’s also got this really strong, powerful story about the women and everything they’re going through. Working [on] it has been a great experience for me. It’s something that I have always been drawn to in watching films. So I think being part of it you get to see everything that happens behind the scenes and it’s just as cool as you imagine, getting to see the actual sharks that they’d created to bring into the water, but also just the action stuff is something that I’m always having so much fun with.
What do you enjoy the most when it comes to watching shark films?
Teressa Liane: I like that there are so many different types of shark films, I feel like. They’re the ones that don’t take themselves too seriously and they’re just a fun, easy watch. And then I like the others that have sort of horror/thriller vibes to them. And so, you’re able to allow yourself to follow this journey and feel the suspense and the jumpy moments. I’m a big fan of those kinds of films.
The majority of the movie takes place with you in the water. How was it filming those scenes and what were some of the challenges you faced?
Teressa Liane: We filmed pretty much the entire movie on water, I think it’s about 98%-99% was shot out in the ocean so the unpredictability of the tides seemed to be the biggest issue just from a technical standpoint. We had to get an entire crew and the cast out into the water at a certain time of the day, but also keep an eye on the time and the tides to make sure that we weren’t out there when we shouldn’t be. And also the constant rocking was something that we weren’t anticipating [and] couldn’t anticipate when that would hit. Sometimes we’d have to stop filming because there was just too much going on with the water. And some people would get a bit seasick, particularly with us constantly being in the kayaks. We had to keep an eye on that. But that was pretty much it. I think just trying to make sure that we were in the spots that we needed to be in, the water would sometimes have other ideas and kind of carry us a little bit out of frame and we’d have to kind of quickly paddle back to where we needed to.
What type of training did you do in order to feel comfortable with being out in the water for so long?
Teressa Liane: I took on some extra swimming training just to kind of build-up that swimming endurance for this just in case I wasn’t really sure what we’d be asked to do. I knew it was going to be a physical shoot, but we did have one week of training with the kayaks and the stunt team before we actually jumped into filming. And that was to kind of give us an idea of certain physical movements that we’d be required to do like falling out of the boats and things like that.
When it comes to your character, Nic, were there aspects of yourself that you saw in her?
Teressa Liane: The first thing I like to do is to find what my similarities are with the character. I think I really connected with her going through loss, you know? That is something that I’ve experienced in life, but also kind of just this constant fight to continue living in a way that is with love and purpose through that. I really loved that about her, that she’s this fighter. So I think I connected with things like that, her strength and how much she loves her family and that protective nature, particularly for her younger sister. And then just also being someone who genuinely connects with other women, that was something that I really loved about her story. And I feel like that’s something that more and more, I’m really trying to impress the importance of in my life and also in general.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in taking on this role?
Teressa Liane: I think, emotionally it was something that did over time take its toll. It’s such a heavy subject matter. And also what was required of the character was to essentially be kind of broken almost every day. And that for about six to seven weeks, eventually it can’t help but take its toll on your body. Even though mentally you know it’s not real, your body doesn’t really know the difference. So by the end of the shoot, I was pretty much needing some time to really come back to myself. I had to kind of take care of myself a little more, to kind of let go of the character.
What sort of person would you recommend to see this film?
Teressa Liane: I think there’s something in it for everyone. It does have that element of the shark genre. So, anyone that enjoys those kinds of films, to follow the suspense and see if these girls are able to survive, there’s that sort of story to it. But also, anyone that is interested in the drama of it as well, or the story of these women and the strength that they can find within themselves and that sort of journey. I think there’s this message of being able to overcome things that are sometimes seemingly insurmountable. I think it can hopefully inspire people to see that strength in themselves and also to reach out, which I think is also part of the message of the film. To always look to those around you for support, even if there are times when you’re feeling alone, there are people around you that really love you and want the best for you.
THE REEF: STALKED is now in theaters, on Digital/VOD, and streaming on Shudder.