Sharks are magnificent creatures of the deep. You must have watched many a documentary on National Geographic or Discovery detailing the behavioral characteristics and social structure of various shark families. Of all the shark species, the apex predator of the sea- the Great White Shark- has captured the imagination of human minds as a monstrous man-eating machine.
Ever since Steven Spielberg made his spectacular directorial debut in 1975 with Jaws, great white sharks have been depicted as the sworn enemy of every human who dares to venture into the water. This is made more terrifying by the fact that the great white is actually responsible for the maximum number of fatal, unprovoked shark attacks on humans.
Nevertheless, the poor creature has also been subject to rampant hunting activities and is classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. You can show your support here.
Anyone who loves creature horror will be a huge fan of shark movies. The sight of a huge sea creature with its jaws wide open and eager to munch silly humans is just amazing to behold and provides kickass visceral thrills.
Sadly, there haven’t been many good shark movies after Jaws, but from time to time, we get some rare gems like the recently released Blake Lively starrer ‘The Shallows’. Where does it stand in the list of the 10 greatest shark movies made till date? Keep reading!
Note: Sharksploitation stuff from Asylum studios, such as Sharknado and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus vs Crocosaur vs god-knows-what, as well as movies like Tintorera (which was 90% soft porn and 10% tiger shark action) and hilariously idiotic flicks like Shark Attack 3 have not been considered either.
10. Jaws 3? Or Shark Night 3D?
Usually when you make movie lists, you have to wade through numerous fantastic suggestions before deciding on the numero uno among the lot. The fact that I had to consider Jaws 3 or Shark Night 3D for the 10th position in this list reflects the lack of interest among film makers to make good shark movies. Jaws 3, however, has a brief edge over Shark Night just because of an entertaining premise- great white sharks terrorize visitors at an aquatic adventure park.
Who knows, if the execution had not been so shoddy, it may well have turned out to be the Jurassic Park of shark movies. Unfortunately, from the acting to the special effects to the camera work, everything is thoroughly uninspired. Even the 3D is silly. I included it only because it had to be a top 10 list. Anyway, be glad that it is not Jaws 4, in which the shark is a revenge-seeking roaring monster!
Pictured below- an amazing, larger-than-life 3D scene from Jaws 3. Gosh, this stuff is so realistic.
9. Dark Tide 
Shark movies are not popular with movie critics. Dark Tide, starring Halle Berry, has a 0% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie, however, is not as bad as the reviews suggest. The plot is fairly simple- Halle Berry is a shark whisperer whose business has come under the storm ever since one of her fellow divers was killed under her watch. Enter a thrill-seeking millionaire businessman, who can bail her out with one proposal- swimming with sharks in Shark Alley- the deadliest feeding ground in the world.
The story is predictably dull, but the real winner here is the superb camera work. All the shooting has been done with actual great whites, which are shown in a more realistic manner. The shark attack scenes during night are some of the tensest sequences I have ever seen in cinema, and there is enough emotional depth between the protagonists to keep you invested in the movie. Definitely recommended.
8. Jaws 2 
Is it possible to make a sequel to a movie like Jaws and live up to it? Jeannot Szwarc tried it with Jaws 2 and I must say, the final goods are quite impressive. Expectations were sky-high and though it is always a monumental task to surpass the original, Jaws 2 delivers enough scares and nail-biting tension to keep you on the edge of your seats. We have Roy Scheider reprising his role of police chief Martin Brody, a nice little plot that keeps the adrenaline going and terrifying shark action to provide some fun thrills.
7. Bait 
There is something morbidly fascinating about being trapped in a shopping mall and facing an unknown terror. We saw it being impressively executed in Dawn of The Dead and The Mist, where the protagonists had to deal with zombies and monster creatures from an inter-dimensional space portal.
The premise of Bait is somewhat on similar lines- a tsunami floods the local supermarket, and a great white shark is washed along with it. With decent performances, smartly handled gory action and entertaining blood-soaked mayhem, Bait never becomes boring at any point.
6. Twelve Days Of Terror 
This television movie is based on the book of the same name by Richard Fernicola about the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916- the events that inspired Peter Benchley to write Jaws. Director Jack Sholder deserves kudos for making this docudrama quite an impressive mixture of fact and fiction, authentic period set locations, measured performances, and a steady buildup of tension and terror. I wanted more shark scenes, but the acting works well in maintaining an atmosphere of suspense throughout.
5. Deep Blue Sea
First of all, best shark death scene ever-
So here we are at the top five. Ah! Genetically engineered sharks. Fantastic CGI. High octane splendid action. Amazing shark scenes. Severed limbs. A big budget and a solid cast. Deep Blue Sea checks all the boxes to ensure a non-stop entertaining ride. I would have rated it higher but shark movies should be high on horror, while this was mostly amazing popcorn fun. If you want loads of spectacular shark action, Deep Blue Sea beats every other movie on this list.
4. The Shallows 
When I initially saw the trailer of The Shallows, I dismissed it as another half-hearted attempt at a shark movie. I was, however, pleasantly surprised and delighted to be proven wrong when I saw this how this movie played out till the end. Blake Lively goes surfing to a secluded beach and all is happy going until a great white decides to exercise its munchies. The story could have been smarter, and the climax much more drawn out, but still, The Shallows packs a great punch in delivering a great survival horror flick. Waiting for good shark movies takes a long time, unfortunately 🙁
3. Open Water 
One of the most terrifying movies ever made, period. A husband-wife couple, out for a vacation break, are left stranded in the ocean filled with sharks. Though there is a lot of bickering between the two of them which may seem tedious to the viewer, the camera work is so incredible that the claustrophobic feel of being cold and lonely in the vast ocean creeps on to you, and the feeling of dread of the dangers that lurk beneath makes your spine shiver. Also, full marks to Open Water for showing realistic shark behavior. Watch this and you will never venture into water again.
2. The Reef 
This movie is an underrated, under-watched gem that deserves a wider audience. Right from the get go, director Andrew Traucki (who also directed the croc horror Black Water) creates a gripping tension of dread that gets you squirming in your seats.
A group of people become stranded (similar trope as in most shark movies) when their yacht gets hit by rocks, leaving them to either stay onboard or fend off sharks while swimming to the nearest island, which is around 2 miles away. The entire build-up, right to the climax is scary and tense as hell, making for some really superb horror viewing.
1. Jaws 
Whenever I watch some of the recent shark movies, I think that hey, that is scarier than Jaws! But once I do a re-watch of the 1975 classic, it becomes an axiomatic truth that this blockbuster, a masterly crafted horror thriller that is woven beautifully with the iconic John Williams soundtrack, may never be dislodged from its position as the greatest shark movie of all time ever.
Jaws is paced perfectly, with moments of light chuckles and smiles easing up the tension, only to prepare for the inevitable doom that the grim reaper has in store in the form of his deathly ally, the great white shark. Terror has never been more satisfying on celluloid before.