Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… these are the 10 best shark movies. Make sure your boat is big enough.
In 1975, the creature from the Amity lagoon changed movies forever. Jaws was a watershed moment in cinema; not only was it the first “summer blockbuster,” but it turned the ocean’s fiercest predator into the big screen’s scariest monster.
The shark movie has since taken different forms: Jaws tried to launch a franchise in which it made its shark roar; Mega Sharks have faced off against a Giant Octopus, Crocosaurus, Mecha Shark, and Kolossuss; and somehow, a movie based around a tornado of sharks has spawned five sequels.
Sometimes, they’re a humbling, gulping reminder of how puny we are against the king of the sea. At their worst (Ghost Shark, Sand Sharks, Shark Exorcist, Jurassic Shark, Planet of the Sharks, 3-Headed Shark Attack, and Jersey Shore Shark Attack), they’re glorious. These are the best shark movies of all time – see them before you go swimming.
The 10 best shark movies ever made
10. The Meg
Never have three words from Jason Statham’s mouth sounded sweeter than: “It’s a Megalodon.”
The Meg, 2018’s box office smash, pits the Stath against a 75ft, thought-to-be-extinct shark. While it lacks the grisly punch or cheese of its B-movie shoal, it’s still a silly, big-budget monster movie – and it’s getting a sequel.
9. Shark Tale
Who says shark movies aren’t for kids, and who says they need blood and guts? In Shark Tale, an animated film that’s impenetrably amusing for children and hilarious for adults in the know, it’s the shark who gets whacked, so to speak.
Will Smith plays Oscar, a fish who falsely claims to have killed the shark son of a mob boss, voiced by Robert De Niro. Martin Scorsese also voices a pufferfish, and if that doesn’t excite you, you should probably get out of here.
8. Shark Night 3D
Shark Night 3D is one of the top primo-sh*t shark movies: there’s college kids being picked off one-by-one; POV shots of the shark which happen to be behind girls in bikinis; and scenes that are such a blatant rip-off of Jaws they may as well be a parody.
David R. Ellis, the man responsible for ruining log trucks forever with Final Destination 2, understood the assignment. He also directed Snakes on a Plane and… Homeward Bound 2. Do with that information what you will.
7. Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo is mostly about a father’s journey across the Pacific Ocean to find his son after he touched the “butt.” However, one of its best sequences revolves around a grinning, hungry shark named Bruce – named after Steven Spielberg’s trusty predator.
Yes, the shark gets a whiff of blood and wreaks black-pupil havoc. But Bruce and his cohorts, for the most part, are on the path to redemption, repeating the mantra: “Fish are friends, not food… except stinking dolphins.”
Sharknado is the so-bad-it’s-good movie of a generation, with a concept so maddeningly stupid you can’t help but smile: a shark-infested cyclone hits Los Angeles, and chaos ensues.
Highlights include: a man using a chainsaw to jump through a shark; the same man shooting sharks out of the sky like Duck Hunt; multiple sharks growling like dogs; and Tara Reid.
5. 47 Metres Down
Picture the scene: you’re on holiday in Mexico with your sister, and you decide to pay to go in a shark cage. You’re lowered into the water, surrounded by fish, and the cage plummets to the seabed.
That’s the nightmarish premise of 47 Metres Down; a race-against-time, suspense-ridden thriller with nippy pacing and, arguably, solid priorities – we don’t care about these girls, so why bother with any sort of character development?
4. The Shallows
The Shallows is one of the few shark movies to build on the legacy of Jaws: it’s a scary, character-driven, enthralling summertime movie that’ll put you off surfing for life.
Blake Lively’s performance would have made her a star if she wasn’t already so well-known; she’s an athletic, commanding lead who instantly earns our anxiety for 90 minutes of thrills.
3. Open Water
Open Water may not be the most entertaining shark movie, but it’s the most harrowing. This is on par with the transcendent, minimalist filmmaking of The Blair Witch Project – only this time, it’s actually a true story.
In 1998, a couple went scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef and were left behind. Open Water is based on their story, and its no-frills, heartbreaking inevitability sinks deeper with every tired paddle.
Search any “greatest movie of all time” list, and you’ll find Jaws. Quentin Tarantino put it frankly: “There’s no ‘better’ than Jaws. It is the best movie ever made.”
It has everything: unforgettable characters, one-liners that’ll live forever, John Williams at his most devilish, one of the most chilling movie openings ever, and a villain so frightening it still scares people out of the ocean.
1. Deep Blue Sea
Before you mutter something mean, Jaws is a better movie than Deep Blue Sea. But is it a better shark movie? The answer – from a totally personal, no-less impassioned standpoint – is no.
The narrative backdrop of Deep Blue Sea is insane: scientists genetically engineered mako sharks to make their brains bigger, thereby smarter and capable of swimming backwards… and snarling apparently.
Thomas Jane in permanent slip ‘n’ slide mode, LL Cool J with a pet bird called Bird, Trevor Rabin’s off-the-chain score, and the best kill in shark movie history – it’s a relic of a bygone, joyous time at the movies.