8 Best Shark Movies

With only half a month until Shark Week, SyFy’s Sharknado took the internet by storm. Since that turned out to be a predictably terrible film, Paul C. and I have put together eight shark films worth watching to get you ready for the best week of the year. 

8. 12 Days of Terror (2005)   


The first TV movie on our list, 12 Days of Terror is an account of the great white shark attacks on the beaches and rivers of New Jersey in the summer of 1916. This factual tale was actually the inspiration for Peter Benchley’s Jaws novel which once again shocked and frightened the world both in book and movie form. The story follows a rogue great white that entered the waters of the New Jersey coastline and followed it’s prey right up a saltwater river as it terrorized local swimmers and bathers resulting in multiple deaths. The movie itself is your typical made for TV fare with a low budget, poor acting and limited resources but they do the best they can to create an interesting thriller that wound up being better than my expectations. – Paul C.

7. Shark Tale (2004) 

shark tale

Shark Tale is a fun animated movie featuring the voice talents of Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger, Martin Scorsese and Angelina Jolie. The story follows Oscar as he convinces the shark mob boss that he is tough enough to play with the big boys. This movie is certainly more for kids but it’s enjoyable for all ages as it includes fun characters, catchy songs (such as Christina Aguilera’s rendition of Car Wash) and colorful scenery that all combines in a delightful animated film.  – Jamie Z

6. Bait (2012)

bait xavier samuel

Bait is about a group of people stuck inside a post-tsunami flooded supermarket with a 12-foot great white shark. While the title may make it sound like something off of the SyFy channel, Bait is a surprisingly well put together movie. It provides us with a semi-realistic situation (at least compared to many other shark movies out there) and fleshed out characters with relationships we actually care about.  Starring Richard Brancastisano, Xavier Samuel, sharni Vinson and Julian McMahon, Bait gives us a  good thriller with a formidable opponent and interesting characters.  – Jamie Z.

5. Jaws 2 (1978)


Once Jaws smashed records almost overnight and went onto become one of the most successful movies ever made a sequel became absolutely inevitable. Spielberg was off doing bigger and better things but a lot of the cast was contractually obligated to return so Jaws 2 was born before it even began preproduction. The question on everyone’s minds however was a pretty big one: how could you make a sequel to a movie about a giant killer shark when the movie ended in its explosive demise? Well, you basically just do the first movie all over again but this time use a group of teenagers as the bait in a sort of play on a slasher movie at sea. As Brody deals with the harrowing aftermath of the events of the first one it’s now his sons who are being hunted by the shark this time around as he heads off to save them. While it doesn’t come close to the masterpiece that is the original it does manage to be an effective little thriller with a good amount of suspense and horror that seems to have flown under the radar after the other two terrible Jaws sequels have (rightfully) been shamed. – Paul C.

4. The Reef (2010)


When it comes to movies that completely fly under the radar it’s usually a combination of a low budget, a limited release or an international market and The Reef manages to fit neatly into all 3 of those categories. The Australian shark movie follows a group of people who’s boat capsize and leave them with no other choice but to swim the expanded distance to shore, only they’re being hunted by a great white shark. Like Jaws this movie plays strongly on prolonged moments of suspense with only fleeting glimpses here and there of the shark itself. When they do show the shark however it’s usually a superimposed image of an actual great white shark that’s almost seamlessly blended together to give you the effect of seeing this gigantic animal in the same water as our survivors. While the acting and writing is all pretty amateur it never feels forced or jaded enough to suck you out of their story and what you’re left with is a surprisingly honest and successful thriller. – Paul C.

3. Open Water (2003)


Open Water is a film that uses simplicity to its advantage. With its low-budget filming and talented yet unknown actors, we can almost believe that we are actually watching their misfortune a la found footage. The movie is about a couple who go on a dive tour, only to be left behind in the middle of the ocean where they must survive in shark-infested waters. While this isn’t as much a “shark movie” as the others, this film brings our fears of sharks to a realistic and creepy situation that keeps your attention all the way through to the shocking end.  – Jamie Z

2. Deep Blue Sea (1999)


Deep Blue Sea may not be the most scientifically accurate movie but sure is a hell of a lot of fun. Scientists create genetically modified sharks while searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s and end up stuck in the facility while the sharks hunt them down. Thomas Jane leads a cast that also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Saffron Burrows, and LL Cool J. What makes this movie so great is how light-hearted and fun it is, even while attempting a disaster. The one-liners are remarkably ridiculous and some of the moments are so bad they’re good but overall, Deep Blue Sea is one of the best creature features movies out there and is a damn good time no matter which way you look at it. – Jamie Z

1. Jaws (1975)


 When it comes to shark movies is there really any other option that pops into your head before this cinematic masterpiece does? Spielberg’s genre classic has held onto that title since it burst onto the scene in 1975 because it works wonderfully as three separate acts of horror, adventure and thriller. Aside from terrifying a lifetime of moviegoers it basically created the summer blockbuster we all know today as well as the merchandising that comes with franchise movies. Jaws succeeds in spades for being able to tell a story about characters reacting to an imposing threat of a giant shark that never even makes it’s appearance until over halfway through the movie. The shortcomings of the now infamous mechanical problems on set acted as a gift to the filmmakers as they masked the image of the shark with an ominous music that always let you feel its presence. That underlying suspense is in part what makes the film so timeless because no matter where we go swimming, be it a pool, an ocean or a lake when think about that chilling score we immediately look behind us. Jaws is the very definition of timeless and without a doubt holds the mantle of the greatest shark movie ever made. – Paul C.