Shark movies have made the ocean an even scarier place than it already was. Whether it be scenarios of scuba diving gone wrong or shark-infested tornados, killer shark movies have become a subgenre of their own.
Killer shark movies come in all shapes and sizes, from masterfully crafted tense horror thrillers to intentionally over-the-top campy comedies. The horror of the deep blue sea works hand in hand with the terrors of the creatures themselves, making beach-going a bit of a scary activity after seeing some of these movies. Even though shark attacks aren’t entirely common in reality, sharks are no doubt some scary beasts— which makes them a perfect antagonist for a movie.
Ahead of this weekend’s release of Meg 2: The Trench, let’s take a look at five great killer shark movies that are similar to the upcoming flick.
Possibly the only movie to outdo The Meg‘s over-the-top winking nature is 2013’s “so-bad-it’s-good” cult classic Sharknado. The made-for-television science fiction movie is a disaster movie unlike any other. When a waterspout lifts sharks out of the ocean and deposits them in Los Angeles, the city faces a unique kind of disaster: thousands of flying killer sharks intent on killing anything in their way.
In no way is Sharknado a “good” film by any objective stance, but it is undoubtedly an absurdly good time for fans of hilariously horrible movies. It’s hilarious, disgusting, and utterly insane. There are shark movies, there are tornado disaster movies, and then there’s Sharknado.
Open Water is a different kind of killer shark movie, and it almost couldn’t be further from The Meg franchise as far as tone, aesthetic, and budget. The movie, inspired by the real-life story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, follows a couple who are abandoned in the middle of the ocean during a scuba diving tour. Alone in the middle of the ocean with only their scuba gear to help them survive, Daniel and Susan now have to endure shark-infested waters, stinging jellyfish, and every other horror that the endless open sea has to offer.
Open Water is one of the toughest, most harrowing watches out there. It effectively engages viewers with the protagonist couple and invests fully in showcasing their devolving psyches throughout their horrifying experience. It’s terrifying and anxiety-inducing. With a brisk 80-minute runtime, Open Water is a quick watch, and it never loses the audience. While Open Water assuredly isn’t an over-the-top killer shark movie like Meg 2, it’s well worth giving a chance.
There’s a certain ’90s outrageousness that permeates 1999’s Deep Blue Sea, a movie about genetically enhanced sharks that begin terrorizing the scientists who created them. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, LL Cool J, and a talking parrot, Deep Blue Sea follows a group of scientists in an isolated underwater research facility. The group is researching and testing mako sharks in order to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but things start to get deadly as the sharks go on a rampage and flood the facility.
Deep Blue Sea is an outrageous good time akin to the more modern sensibilities and vibe of The Meg series. The film works on entertainment value alone. Yes, it’s premise and plot are a bit insane, but it’s logic is mostly just utilized for some tense action and thrills. Deep Blue Sea is about killer sharks eating people, and that’s exactly what it delivers.
Another exercise in the tense, terrifying possibilities inherent with the ocean and sharks is 47 Meters Down. The 2017 flick follows two sisters who are invited to a cage dive among great white sharks in Mexico. Their worst fears become a reality when the cage breaks away from the boat, sending them plummeting to the ocean floor with a dwindling supply of oxygen.
Thanks to the ticking-clock nature of the film, 47 Meters Down is a panic-inducing time at the movies. It’s a worst-case nightmare brought to the big screen, and the movie quite effectively uses the pitch-black nothingness of the deep blue sea to manufacture intense scares. While it’s not a perfect movie and it’s ending is dubious to say the least, 47 Meters Down is an effective killer shark movie sure to please any fan of these kinds of movies.
The greatest shark movie — and among the greatest movies ever, period — has held the throne for nearly 50 years. Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg, is a Hollywood cornerstone; it’s as classic as a “classic” can get. Starring Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw, the movie is set in a sleepy vacation town in New England that is ravaged by a killer great white shark. Part horror and part thriller, Jaws sees everything from grisly murders to tender father-and-son moments. It’s pace is unbeatable, a truly astonishing two hours of non-stop tension.
Not only is Jaws a landmark achievement of filmmaking, it is also a historical time capsule. The movie and it’s massive success basically spawned the summer blockbuster season, paving the way for many of the movies seen on this list. It launched Spielberg’s career in the movies, and it forever made sharks a terrifying idea when at the beach.
If there’s any movie that can be credited for creating a widespread fear of sharks, it’s Jaws.
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