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Shark Movies: Our Picks

  • Jaws


    If you did not guess that this film was going to be on top of the list, then you are either really, really, too young or have been living under a rock for the past few decades. Jaw is without a doubt, the single most iconic shark film in history. For establishing all new heights of fright and gore, this movie deserves praise. But its depiction of sharks has also put it in the crosshairs of many wildlife preservation efforts (and for good reason too!).

    In Jaws, a beach is kept open to the public despite the fact that the Mayor already knows that there is a ‘killer shark' on the loose (because reasons). This forces the film's three major protagonists to band together in order to hunt the powerful and deadly predator. The film is an impressive depiction of humans being really weak walking meatbags of blood just waiting for the deadly shark to tear them apart. It's a bit of a wild ride, and there are some exaggerations on what a shark can do (which really boosts this film's fright levels). For a Steven Spielberg film, this movie is not as family friendly as you might think.

    Also, after this film was released, the number of shark hunting incidents increased and caused a massive decrease in the population of sharks worldwide. Way to vilify sharks Spielberg.

  • Jaws 2

    Jaws 2

    While the original Jaws still attempted some subtle levels of storytelling (it was still a Spielberg film after all), you also don't get to see the shark appear much till later in the film (which made it all about the tension). This sequel, on the other hand, is all about gratuitous gore. Jaws 2 is directly by a completely different person than the original and as such, has a very different feel. It is a monster movie through and through, and it also plays heavily on the established lore of the original film.

    Story wise, Jaws 2 is a continuation of the previous film, with its timeline set several years after the original. In this second act, there is a sailing contest, and the once shark-doubting mayor is now being treated as a paranoid boy who cried wolf when he attempts to warn the people about the dangers of the shark. Of course, the shark does its best to not let the viewers down by snacking deliciously on many of the film's less than fortunate characters.

  • Open Water

    Open Water

    If you're looking for dramatic, suspenseful tragedy, this is the film for you. Open Water is a powerful film that manages to make its viewer feels a good deal of empathy for its lead characters, despite the very obvious fact that the storyline headed in the opposite direction of happy endings.

    In this film, a couple joins a scuba diving group and are accidentally left stranded in the middle of the sea after a headcount gone wrong -it does not take them very long before they realize that they are also surrounded by sharks. As if that scenario was not scary enough, there's also the fact that this entire film is based on a true story. We won't spoil the ending of Open Water itself for you, but as for that real life couple who got left behind because of a wrong headcount? They were never found and are presumed dead.

    And yes, as sadly as it sounds, this film doesn't give much focus on the sharks. But they are there, and the danger they present is even more real than shown in other films.

  • Deep Blue Sea

    Deep Blue Sea

    As if sharks were not dangerous enough, here's a film that depicts a bunch of scientists altering shark brains in order to cure Alzheimer's. You know what they say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In Deep Blue Sea, it's a very short road right to the pits of hell -if hell is the gaping maw of massive, mutated, super-intelligent sharks. The film is a thrill ride from start to finish, basically Jurassic Park with sharks instead of dinosaurs -except that some of the CG effects look awful (rubbery Samuel Jackson CG takes the cake).

    The cool part about Deep Blue Sea is that the sharks are depicted as more than just hungry predators, they actually think, and plan, and have a pretty good idea of how the layout of man-made architecture works. It is such a well paced film that you can actually forgive some of the characters for making some of the most incredibly wrong decisions made onscreen.

  • The Reef

    The Reef

    When a small yacht smashes its hull on a coral reef, it capsizes and leaves its crew vulnerable to the many dangers of the sea -well, not really many, just one, a great white shark (quick moral of the story: coral reefs are important natural resources, don't sail close to them). The Reef is your quintessential isolated-by-monster film, complete with the typical human drama that comes with it (mistrust among the survivors, blooming love between opposite genders, etc). But it manages to shine thanks to the impressive direction and camerawork. The best part of the film, is that you can empathize with the character, but you won't feel bad rooting for the shark if that's more your thing.

Wrap Up: Shark Films Bite Hard

Sharks in movies is a great combo as with the many that have followed suit, the premise alone is enough to make people drop their guard in term of realism and plot feasibility. And it is this level of willingness in the suspension of disbelief that makes watching these intrinsically silly yet gory films such a delightful experience.

For those of you wondering why Sharknado is not in the list, well, it simply does not really fit in to the whole "shark in the water" category although if your looking for surreal alongside more real shark movies it's worth checking out 50 jawsome movies. Much of the horrors that the sharks present to viewers is the fact that it remains hidden underwater -with only its occasionally surfacing fin heralding its arrival. And being in deep waters is something that we land walking humans are not instinctively accustomed to, and it is that level of strange unfamiliarity that adds the greatest level of vulnerability to the protagonists of shark movies.