Meg 2: The Trench is hitting theaters, once again seeing Jason Statham going up against a giant megalodon shark. And, apparently, a Kraken, judging from the trailer. And a T-rex. There’s also a T-rex somehow involved. Seriously.
While The Meg 2 is sure to fill the megalodon-sized hole in audiences’ hearts and give them a new shark movie fix, the shark subgenre has always been popular. Sharks have long filled us with a sense of awe and wonder, terror and respect. Whether gearing up to see Meg 2: The Trench or trying to keep the feeling going after seeing it in theaters, there are quite a few other shark movies to sink one’s teeth into.
The Shallows (2016)
Blake Lively gets a lot of credit for the gripping nature of The Shallows. Her performance as grieving medical student Nancy elevates what might be an unremarkable shark attack movie into something that’s much more of a psychological thriller. When her mother dies, Nancy travels to a secluded beach to do some surfing. However, when she’s attacked and injured by a shark, she’s stranded on a rock 200 yards from the shore. With safety so close but danger surrounding her, she has to fight to survive while the deadly predators circle around her temporary refuge.
The Meg would never have existed had Sharknado not paved the way first. Back in 2013, SyFy had the ingenious thought: What if we combined sharks and tornados? The answer, as it turns out, was B-movie greatness. There is not a single moment of Sharknado or its subsequent sequels and spinoffs that makes sense, whether by the laws of physics, science, character development, or narrative structure. But it doesn’t matter. It’s people fighting tornadoes made of sharks. That’s all you need for a good time.
It’s impossible to include a shark movie list without including the shark movie, the one that started it all: Jaws. Steven Spielberg’s classic is a classic for a reason. The brilliance of the movie’s tension is that it was a happy accident. The shark is hidden for most of the movie due to the fact that Bruce, the mechanical shark that portrayed Jaws, wasn’t functioning properly. It turns the shark into something almost mythical, a creature of the deep, lurking just out of sight. The acting, the score, the pacing. It all still holds up.
This is a little different than the others on the list. Sharkwater isn’t a scripted movie, but an incredible documentary. While killer sharks are a ton of fun to watch for entertainment purposes, the reality of sharks is that they’re a vital part of our ocean and thus the planet. What happens to sharks happens to us all, and biologist Rob Stewart beautifully portrays this web of connection in his documentary. The underwater photography is breathtaking, telling a poignant story about the plight of sharks and our oceans.
Less horror movie than a survival epic, Kon-Tiki tells the true story of Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. Despite not being able to swim and having a fear of water, Heyerdahl sails to the South Sea islands in 1947 on a balsa wood raft to prove it was possible for South Americans to sail to the islands. The only equipment they have for the three-month trip is a radio and a compass. Facing terrible weather, sharks, and other dangers, Heyerdahl and his team of five men set out to do the impossible.
47 Meters Down (2017)
Is 47 Meters Down the best shark movie ever made? No. But does it offer a bunch of thrills and terrifying moments to satisfy those who love the shark survival genre? Absolutely. Sisters Kate and Lisa travel to sunny Mexico for a vacation on the sea. But things go badly when they decide to be daring and go diving in a shark cage. When the cage malfunctions and plummets to the bottom of the ocean, they find themselves surrounded by sharks. As their oxygen dwindles, they have to figure out how to get back to the surface before their supply runs out without getting attacked by the huge predators closing in.
The Reef (2010)
Sometimes, less is more. The Reef proves that the most gripping horror can be made from a simple premise and a restrained approach. When a group of friends go on a sailing trip, disaster strikes when the boat sinks and a hungry shark starts picking off the stranded survivors one by one. Once it realizes that it has an easy food source, the great white shark becomes even more predatory and aggressive. The survivors’ numbers start dwindling until only one friend is left, stranded all alone.