Sharks are one of, if not the oldest predator that remains unchanged from 100 million years of evolution. Even predating many dinosaurs, the megalodon roamed the oceans decimating anything that got in its way.
Given that this largely prehistoric creature still exists today, it’s no surprise that humans have a fascination with modern day sharks. Between the unfortunately sensationalizing of real life shark attacks, as well as Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week”, and movies like Jaws, there’s both a mystique and morbid curiosity surrounding them.
Though to be fair, humans pose much greater threat to sharks than they do us. But in the interest of National Megalodon Day (June 15), we thought it would be fun to look at the Top 5 shark movies!
Disclaimer: Obviously nothing will ever top Jaws. We all know that it’s not only the best shark movie ever made, it’s one of the best movies ever made at all. So this list won’t include it, because it would honestly be unfair to compare any of these to that Spielberg classic. But we all acknowledge that Jaws is that actual top of this list.
5. Deep Blue Sea
It was sort of a toss-up between this and The Meg as to which was the better “good B-movie”. Both are intentionally cheesy and know what they are. But still have a competent filmmaking quality that puts them far above Sharknado or any other ridiculously SyFy channel original.
Deep Blue Sea is certainly a lot of fun, and it has a great cast. It leans a little heavily into the sci-fi territory with the shark that’s engineered to be smarter. But who could ever forget the darkly hilarious scene in which Samuel L. Jackson gives a dramatic and inspiring speech just to be eaten seconds later.
Given its cheese, Deep Blue Sea is almost a bad movie, but because of its sense of humor, it becomes a good bad movie.
4. The Meg
As previously mentioned, both this movie and Deep Blue Sea exist in the campy but fun category. What really gives The Meg a slight edge is that it takes itself a bit more seriously, has better action/effects, and seems to have higher and more interesting stakes.
It too boasts an impressive ensemble with Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, Bingbing Li, and Winston Chao. It goes more global than any of these other movies do, and does something different with featuring a shark that’s giant, but also accurate from a paleontology perspective.
There’s a legitimately tense and terrifying scene as the titular Meg attacks a crowded beach in East Asia, and they flee in terror. It’s essentially Jurassic Park, but in the water. Or more accurately, it’s Jurassic World but underwater.
3. 47 Meters Down
This entry begins a theme of isolation that we’ll honestly see for the rest of the list. Being trapped underwater is an absolute nightmare for some, especially with sharks. What this movie does particularly well is evoke tension with a ticking clock.
Mandy Moore’s protagonist contends not just with sharks but with her own limiting supply of oxygen. The fact that much of the movie takes place underwater really helps the audience feel submerged down there too. It was more a of a sleeper release and didn’t get quite the attention it deserved.
2. The Shallows
Speaking of isolation, Blake Lively does a great job carrying this entire movie, while marooned on a tiny rock just off the beach. And it’s all the more impressive, considering she was pregnant during production.
While thematically similar to 47 Meters Down, The Shallows gains a slight edge because of the way that it’s able to use its environment. The tiny island of rocks that that main character finds herself on, with the vast stretch of water around her perfectly visualize just how desperate her situation is.
She’s isolated out on the water, but it’s far crueler than that because she can still see the shore in the distance, as if to taunt her.
1. Open Water
All the previous films listed are thrilling, exciting, and terrifying. But none are really disturbing, except for Open Water. The fact that it’s based on a true story makes it all the more tragic and unsettling, and the fact that it’s shot more like a documentary makes it all the more real.
Filmed over 2 years on weekends with a minimal crew actually in the water with real sharks, there’s no way to not feel like you’re right there in the water with them. It has the lowest budget, doesn’t employ a shot of CGI, and it all really shows.
The end result is a movie that makes you feel all the despair and fear the characters do, and that’s filmed in such a way that we see how the true story very well may have played out. As mentioned before, Jaws is obviously the best shark movie in history, but Open Water is the only other one that manages to come close to it.
What’s your favorite shark movie (other than Jaws of course)? Let us know in the comments!