Interview: Andrew Traucki / The Reef
[FILM] Something In The Water
By Matthew Pejkovic
Director Andrew Traucki is no stranger to things that go “Chomp!” in the water. His 2007 feature debut Black Water, an intimate horror/thriller about a group of friends stalked by a killer croc, was well received by critics and audiences alike.
Now Traucki returns with The Reef, an intimate horror/thriller about a group of friends (Damian Walshe-Howling, Zoe Naylor, Adrienne Pickering and Gyton Grantley) stalked by a great white shark.
With the obvious similarities between both films, the question had to be asked: was there any hesitation to direct The Reef so soon after Black Water? “No, not at all,” says Traucki. “I believe there are similarities, but also differences. The film was already released in the UK, and the reviews say how wonderfully scary and thrilling the film is, so I don’t think it’s really a problem”.
The Reef is even more chilling once you know that it’s based on a true story, where a group of friends stranded off the coast of Townsville were picked apart by a shark.
“I heard about the story 10 years ago, and it stayed with me,” Traucki recalls, “So I thought it would be a good idea to make it. It’s quite similar to the real story, but changed enough so it’s my take, so while the film says ‘loosely based’, it is not that loosely based.”
A large part of The Reef’s success is that it taps into a very common, primal fear.
“I surf a once a week, so I’m in the water a lot!” laughs Traucki. “There is always that fear in the back of my mind… I think it’s a morbid fascination many, many people have. I think it’s genetically within us. A long time ago we got eaten by big things, so that’s still there in the back of our conscious. I’m totally fascinated by sharks, but I use the rational side of my brain to make sure it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the water.”
What sets The Reef apart from other animal attack thrillers is Traucki’s insistence on realism. “My whole shtick is to be as real and down to earth as possible”, stated Traucki. “I did actually have more shark action, but in the end I cut it out for that reason, that I didn’t want to sensationalise it and make it as down the line as I could.”
As with Black Water, Traucki opted to superimpose real life shark footage as opposed to using CGI or animatronics to depict his monster. The effect, as with the earlier film, is seamless.
“There was pressure on Black Water to use CGI,” Traucki admits, “but I think because I pulled that off so successfully, there wasn’t any pressure on this one. People kind of said, ‘Well, he’s done it. Let him do what he does, because it works.’”
In the end, however, even a ‘monster flick’ needs human characters the audience can relate to – something that Traucki was well aware of. “What the audience goes to see is humans and how they react with their emotions, and certainly when you have a two or three – or in this case four-hander – if you can’t have empathy for the characters two minutes in, you’re gonna walk away.”
What: The Reef, Dir. Andrew Traucki
When: Opens March 17 at Hoyts EQ, Warringah, Avalon, & Collaroy
ALSO screening at A Night Of Horror Film Festival on April 1, 9pm at Dendy Newtown
reefmovie.com / anightofhorror.com