Today the latest shark film, The Meg, hits the theaters and to celebrate, I’ve created a list of The Best Shark Films to Chomp On. The shark films that will make you quiver in fear at the very thought of getting into the water. My goal was to do a top ten, but I found that there really are not ten good shark films to make the list. Believe me, I tried, and to ease my suffering, I had to stop watching. So, without further ado, here are what I would consider being the best shark films out there, along with a typical 5-star rating.
6. 47 Meters Down
47 Meters Down was directed by Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door) and involves two sisters, Lisa and Kate, played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, who find themselves in a horrible situation of being trapped in a shark cage 47 Meters below, with air running out and sharks looming above them. There are scenes of feeling lost in the ocean water, claustrophobia in the cage, and the film delivers some great moments of fear and intensity which made my toes curl in a few parts. Unfortunately, the poor characters, plot, and a predictable ending that should have ended moments earlier just hurts the film. However, 47 Meters is still worth checking out for some good “stay out of the water” fun.
5. The Reef
The Reef is an Australian horror film about a group of friends who go sailing but their boat is capsized and end up stranded in the ocean. They find their best chance for survival is to swim to a nearby island. The only problem with the plan is that the island is 10 – 12 miles away and they’re being stalked by a hungry great white shark. Script-wise, the film could be better (mostly in the beginning), however, the film delivers some very intense moments and it is more realistic than a number of the shark films out there which makes the film even more frightening. They even used real shark footage for many of the shots. It’s a similar feel to Open Water but I like this one and the characters better. Most importantly, this film did not help me with my fear of sharks. Not one bit.
Bait is an Australian shark film takes place in a supermarket that was flooded by a recent Tsunami. The survivors are trapped inside and soon realize they are not the only … shoppers in the store. The beginning of the film had me a bit worried after a very unrealistic CGI shark jumps from the water. I almost shut it down after that, but I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did as the film, though silly at times with some of its ideas, was fun and the shark moments in the flooded market were well done (much better than what I saw in the beginning). There were a few intense moments and most of the actors were pretty solid, which consists of stars from various tv shows, but the most notable appearance is Sharni Vinson from You’re Next. Despite that beginning CGI shark and the very last shot in the film, I had a really good time with Bait, and would definitely recommend it to you shark film fanatics.
3. Deep Blue Sea
An enjoyable film with some enjoyable characters especially the preacher chef played by LL Cool J and the leader of this outfit, Thomas Jane, who was just all over the place in this film. Next time I watch I need to count the number of times Thomas Jane slides on the floor. Samuel Jackson plays a financier who was fantastic for reasons I will not unfold here. Saffron Burrows did a great job in her role as the doctor getting lost in her fight to stop Alzheimer’s disease The sharks in this one are not your average sharks, they are genetically engineered smart sharks (sure, why not!) A bit silly really but overall I found the film very entertaining.
2. The Shallows
The Shallows is a thrilling survival film where Nancy (Blake Lively) is attacked by a shark and left stranded on a rock and the only thing between her and land is the bloodthirsty creature in the water. Nancy has dropped out of medical school, distraught after losing her mother to cancer so revisits the beach (with no name) that was a favorite of her mothers. Nancy’s mother was a fighter, and she lost, now Nancy enters a fight for her life, testing her strength in mind and body. Blake’s expressions and physical excursions are truly felt and she proves she can be a leading actress by carrying this film on her shoulders. Director, Jaume Collet-Serra, known for directing Liam Neeson in Unknown and Non-Stop, brings a vibrant ocean to the screen which is just gorgeous to look. There are even numerous underwater shots that are quite breathtaking such as a colorful Jellyfish scene and the scene of her attack as she is knocked off her surfboard and tumbles below the ocean water before finding herself swimming in a cloud of crimson. Once the attack happens the film gets very intense and becomes a film of survival as Nancy must cater to her wounds, and try to outwit the shark before the tide of the ocean water swallows the only rock that’s keeping her above water. The ending gets a bit over the top, but overall the film is very thrilling and I’ve really enjoyed every viewing. Just check your marine biology card at the door, grab a tub of popcorn and enjoy.
Seeing Jaws at number one should really come as no surprise. I think there has only been a couple of instances where I’ve seen a shark film ranked higher, but really, the other films just do not measure up. Jaws is brilliant in its storytelling and has three strong and wonderful characters in Brody, Hooper, and Quint (Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw). They are a trio that is so fun to be with and watching them bounce off one another is partly what makes the third act so much fun. Upon recently watching the film again, I am still amazed at how thrilling and terrifying this move is. The scene of a man knocked off his boat in a pond and, from an over the top view, the shark slowly appearing from under the water with its jaws wide open biting the man’s leg is a very haunting visual that gets me every single time. The film also has one of the best openings in cinema that is glorious visually with shimmers of light over the open water as a girl takes a nighttime swim and becomes a victim of the monstrous shark. In terrifying fashion, she is tugged about and dragged around before being pulled under. Then there is John Williams and the brilliant score he composed. There are moments on the beach or on the Orca ship where the score just pops and then there are the suspenseful moments with those famous two notes that everyone knows. This and some beautiful camerawork by Steven Spielberg makes this film stand high above the other shark films Jaws is not only a magnificent horror film about a shark, it is a masterpiece in filmmaking. The film has not aged at all and remains in my top 5 favorite films of all time.