Since the world was first introduced to the film Jaws back in 1975, the film industry has never stopped churning out shark films in vast numbers. From its classics to its comedies, it's clear that the genre could never die out. But what are the must-see shark movies?
In this article, we'll be taking a deep dive into the shark movie genre, discussing classic films and modern classics alike, and exploring the reasons why these films have made an impact on the movie industry.
Steven Spielberg's Jaws is an iconic classic that forever changed the horror film landscape. Widely regarded as the original "summer blockbuster," this shark movie broke different ground by introducing audiences to a great white shark that menaces an unsuspecting beach-going community in the fictional town of Amity, MA. Along the way, it spawned a series of sequels, a 1975 novel of the same name, and the idea of the "Jaws effect," an expression used to describe the tendency of people to avoid activities out of fear of encountering a shark. A marvel of technical and iconic filmmaking, Jaws is essential viewing for all.
The original, iconic shark movie
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'Deep Blue Sea' (1999)
Wildly successful upon its release in 1999, 'Deep Blue Sea' pays homage to the classic Jaws formula, but adds an extra layer of tension and thrills by adding in a trio of large and intelligent sharks. Responsible for the success of the movie was the interesting blend of horror and camp that was produced. The movie follows a group of scientists led by Dr. Susan McAlester (played by Saffron Burrows) on a mission to create a cure for Alzheimer's by implanting the brains of sharks with a derivative of the disease. Little did they know, the sharks would grow increasingly smart and much more dangerous.
The strength of 'Deep Blue Sea' lies in its ability to focus on the characters and their reactions to the dangerous situation they found themselves in while also delivering some genuinely heart pounding moments. Renny Harlin directed with a steady hand, and despite a few hair-raising moments, the overall tone of the movie remains surprisingly light. As with many of the films on this list, 'Deep Blue Sea' stands out for its mix of horror, action and campy fun, and it certainly goes down as one of the more memorable shark films of the last 30 years.
'The Reef' (2010)
The Reef (2010) is a survival-horror film about a group of friends who become stranded at sea after their boat capsizes. When one of them is attacked by a giant Great White Shark, the others must struggle to stay alive as the creature terrorizes the area with its hunger for human flesh.
The film is set in the picturesque Great Barrier Reef and features plenty of impressive underwater cinematography. The cast does a great job of conveying both the terror and the bond between the characters as they struggle to survive. The movie contains a few suspenseful moments, as well as a few jump scares that'll keep viewers on their toes.
For fans of shark horror, this is an excellent addition to the genre and one that comes highly recommended.
'Shark Night 3D' (2011)
Shark Night 3D centers around seven friends who take off for a weekend of debauchery in a lake house in the Louisiana Gulf area. Little do they know that their weekend getaway will become anything but carefree, as the waters become filled with real sharks, out for human blood. If the sharks weren’t enough of a problem, the group also have to contend with maniacal locals and a relentless sheriff who will do anything to keep their secrets hidden.
Despite its graphical aspect, Shark Night 3D surprisingly manages to entertain. The budget may be low, but the waters are full of bloody killing sprees, filled with plenty of suspense and horror - all which make this movie a guilty pleasure for shark movie fans.
'47 Meters Down' (2017)
'47 Meters Down' is a thrilling 2017 survival horror film about two sisters that go on a cage diving excursion to witness great white sharks for the first time. Unfortuantely, the cable of their diving cage malfunctions and they become trapped at the bottom of the sea, with only a few oxygen tanks and the unending threat of the circling sharks. The sisters must work together and keep their wits to make it back to the surface alive. With suspenseful scenes and a gripping story, '47 Meters Down' proves it belongs in the conversation for some of the best shark movies of all time.
'The Meg' (2018)
In 2018, Jason Statham starred in the shark action movie “The Meg”. A Chinese-American production, “The Meg” brings a fresh perspective to the classic shark movie genre. The deep sea thriller dives deep below the surface of deep-sea research and the unlikely alliance between an unlikely crew and a 75 foot long pre-historic white shark dubbed ‘the Megalodon’.
Considered a rare treasure of the deep, the Megalodon’s almost extinct species brings danger and awe to the table in the movie. With amazing special effects and a healthy dose of humor, this movie stands out from other shark films. With a heavy all-star cast from across the spectrum, “The Meg” brings survival, adventure and terror to life with a masterful twist.
The twist of course being that the Megalodon, a fearsome prehistoric shark, is actually the one being hunted. As the Meg’s presence endangers the entire crew, the stakes are higher than ever before. “The Meg” is certainly one of the best shark movies of all time.
Why We Picked These Shark Movies
As you can see, these shark movies certainly live up to their reputation as some of the greatest of all time. They’re exciting, inspiring, and often just plain ridiculous, but above all else, they’re fun. Whether you’re in the mood for a shark comedy, horror movie, or a drama, the options are bountiful.
And at the end of the day, all we can say is “Just keep swimming!”