Beneath the Surface: Unveiling the Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

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Beneath the Surface Unveiling the Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

Today we look beneath the surface, unveiling the Top 10 Best Shark Movies ever made.

Article Summary:

  • Iconic Shark Films: The article explores the top 10 shark movies, highlighting their impact on the genre and how they capture the primal fear of these apex predators.
  • Diverse Experiences: From realistic thrillers like “The Reef” and “Open Water” to absurd, campy films like “Sharknado,” the list showcases a wide range of shark movie styles and storytelling techniques.
  • Standout Features: Each film is noted for its unique elements, such as the use of real sharks in “The Reef,” the genetically enhanced predators in “Deep Blue Sea,” and the minimalist, high-tension approach in “The Shallows.”
  • Cultural Impact: The list emphasizes the enduring influence of these films, particularly classics like “Jaws,” which set the standard for terror in the water and continues to captivate audiences.

Diving Into Terror: The Top 10 Best Shark Movies of All Time

Sharks, those enigmatic, mysterious, and fearsome creatures of the deep, have captivated the human imagination for many years.

These apex predators of the seas and oceans, with their razor-sharp teeth sleek streamlined bodies, and seemingly dead eyes, have been the subjects of fear, fascination, and awe since they were first discovered.

But it was in the world of cinema and TV that the creatures from the deep truly found their place as iconic, bone-chilling symbols of terror and suspense.

For decades, filmmakers have dared to venture into the depths of the ocean to craft stories that center around these magnificent yet menacing creatures for our entertainment.

From the tension-filled depths of the open sea to the heart-pounding terror lurking just beneath the water’s surface or close to shore, shark movies have kept audiences on the edge of their seats, with their blend of thrills and terror, creating popcorn-worthy entertainment.

In this journey through the world of cinema, we embark on an adventure to explore what we consider here at Action Figure Geek to be the 10 best shark movies ever made.

These 10 shark films listed have undeniably left their mark on the genre. They have pushed the boundaries of storytelling, and special effects, all while reminding us of the primal fear that these ancient predators can inspire within us.

From the realistic and bone-chilling encounters in films “The Reef” and “Open Water” to the heart-racing survival stories in “The Shallows” and “47 Meters Down,” the world of shark cinema offers a diverse array of experiences.

There are also those that defy convention and stray from realism like “Bait” with its far-fetched tsunami-flooded supermarket twist and “Sharknado” with its absurd tornado filled with, yes you guessed it sharks.

And of course, we cannot forget the classics, such as “Deep Blue Sea” a movie filled with genetically enhanced, sharks, or the iconic “Jaws” a film where the shark movie genre started. A movie that really set the gold standard for terror in the water.

All of these incredible films have not only entertained us but have also tapped into our fears. They remind us that even in the safety of a movie theater, the ocean’s depths can be a treacherous and unpredictable place.

So, join us on this cinematic journey as we dive headfirst into the world of sharks in film.

NB: This article contains product affiliate links!

Beneath the Surface: Unveiling the Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

10. The Reef (2010) – Directed by Andrew Traucki

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“The Reef” (2010) is a quite remarkable Australian thriller that takes a harrowing and scarily realistic approach to the terrifying concept of shark encounters and so stands out in the shark movie genre for its sheer intensity and unrelenting suspense.

The story centers around a group of friends who find themselves in a life-or-death situation when their boat capsizes in the treacherous waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Stranded miles from shore, they must now decide if they stay with the wreckage of their boat and hope for rescue or swim to a nearby island.

It is not long before their choice reveals to the friends that they are not alone in the water.

A giant menacing and relentless great white shark lurks beneath the surface, turning their desperate swim to safety into a heart-pounding race for survival.

10. The Reef (2010) - Directed by Andrew Traucki - Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

10. The Reef (2010) – Directed by Andrew Traucki

What sets “The Reef” apart and ensures its place as one of the 10 best shark movies of all time is its commitment to realism, you genuinely feel that what you are seeing could actually happen.

The filmmakers rightly chose to use real sharks in the film rather than relying on CGI, adding to the authenticity of the terror on screen.

The tension is palpable, and the performances of the cast convey the sheer dread and terror of their situation.

It’s a film that relies on primal fears, the fear of the unknown lurking beneath the water, and the brutal reality of survival against all odds.

“The Reef” is a spine-tingling movie experience that immerses viewers in the unforgiving beauty and danger of the ocean. It really is a must-watch for anyone seeking a shark movie that feels hauntingly real.


9. Sharknado (2013) – Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante 

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“Sharknado” (2013) is a delightful and wildly absurd entry into the shark movie genre, embracing B-movie madness with over-the-top action and a premise that defies all logic. This film has become a cult classic for its sheer outrageousness and entertainingly campy approach.

The story is as bonkers as it sounds: a freak weather phenomenon, a tornado filled with sharks, descends upon Los Angeles, leaving a path of destruction and mayhem in its wake. It’s up to a ragtag group of survivors, including a bar owner and his estranged wife, to fend off the airborne shark invasion and save the city.

9. Sharknado (2013) - Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante - Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

9. Sharknado (2013) – Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante

What sets “Sharknado” apart from other shark films is its unapologetic embrace of its own absurdity.

The film revels in its B-Movie, low-budget special effects, improbable scenarios, and intentionally cheesy dialogue.

It’s a film that knows it’s not meant to be taken seriously in the same way as Snakes on a Plane is and has a blast with that concept.

The film features a range of outrageous shark-related action sequences. There are characters battling sharks with chainsaws and other improvised weapons, daring rescues and escapes from the clutches of the flying predators, and a whole lot more craziness.

The over-the-top nature of the film adds to its charm, making it a hilarious and entertaining watch.

“Sharknado” has spawned multiple sequels, becoming a cultural phenomenon in its own right and a staple of the so-bad-it’s-good movie category.

It’s a film that doesn’t aim for highbrow entertainment but instead provides a wild and unforgettable ride into the absurd world of shark-filled tornadoes.

If you’re looking for a shark movie that’s a departure from the norm and a whole lot of campy fun, “Sharknado” is the perfect choice.


8. Bait (2012) – Directed by Kimble Rendall

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“Bait” offers a unique twist on the traditional shark movie, delivering an action-packed, tension-filled thriller with a fresh and unconventional premise.

This Australian film takes the terror of a shark encounter to a whole new level by placing it in the most unexpected of settings – a flooded coastal supermarket.

When a massive tsunami hits a coastal town, it inundates buildings, including a supermarket, and traps a group of people inside.

As if the rising water levels weren’t terrifying enough, the characters soon discover they are not alone. Deadly tiger sharks have been swept into the store, turning the market into a claustrophobic underwater battleground.

8. Bait (2012) - Directed by Kimble Rendall - Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

8. Bait (2012) – Directed by Kimble Rendall

What sets “Bait” apart is its ability to blend disaster film elements with shark horror. The setting itself is a character in the film, creating a tense and confined atmosphere that intensifies the fear with the survivors having to navigate the submerged aisles, deal with limited resources, and confront the relentless sharks in a desperate bid for survival.

The film’s unique premise leads to some inventive and suspenseful sequences as the characters try to outsmart the sharks and find a way to escape their aquatic prison.

“Bait” stands out as a thrilling and inventive take on the shark movie. It offers viewers a fresh perspective on the age-old fear of these underwater predators.

If you’re looking for a shark movie that brings something new to the table, “Bait” is a must-watch shark movie.


7. Deep Blue Sea (1999) – Directed by Renny Harlin

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“Deep Blue Sea” (1999) is an adrenaline-pumping shark thriller that introduces genetically enhanced sharks as the central antagonists.

A group of researchers, in an attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, genetically modify the brains of several sharks, increasing their intelligence and problem-solving abilities.

But things go very wrong at the underwater research facility, the smart sharks turn the tables on their human captors, creating a harrowing battle for survival.

7. Deep Blue Sea (1999) - Directed by Renny Harlin

7. Deep Blue Sea (1999) – Directed by Renny Harlin

What really makes “Deep Blue Sea” stand out is its unpredictability.

The sharks in this film are not your typical mindless killing machines.

Instead, they are cunning, and strategic, and are able to outsmart their human pursuers at every turn adding an element of tension and suspense that keeps viewers engaged from start to finish.

The movie also features thrilling action sequences, including underwater escapes, close encounters with the sharks, and tense moments of survival.

The combination of science gone awry, intelligent sharks, and a remote underwater setting creates a perfect storm of horror and excitement.

“Deep Blue Sea” is known for its surprising plot twists and the constant feeling of impending danger.

It’s a shark movie that delivers the adrenaline rush that shark movie enthusiasts crave while adding a unique layer of complexity with its genetically modified sharks.

If you’re seeking a shark movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat with its suspenseful storyline and action-packed sequences, “Deep Blue Sea” is one of the best shark movies and a must-watch.


6. Jaws 2 (1978) – Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“Jaws 2” is a classic and suspenseful sequel to the iconic original, “Jaws,” and it deserves recognition for keeping the fear alive and continuing the legacy of the great white shark in Amity Island even if it is not better than its predecessor.

This sequel is set a few years after the events of the first film, “Jaws 2” and follows Roy Scheider’s Chief Martin Brody as he faces yet another menace from the depths.

Another massive great white shark is terrorizing the waters around Amity, threatening the safety of the island’s residents and tourists.

Brody, still haunted by his previous close encounter with the great white, must convince the, again skeptical town officials that another deadly predator lurks beneath the waves.

6. Jaws 2 (1978) - Directed by Jeannot Szwarc - Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

6. Jaws 2 (1978) – Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

“Jaws 2” works because it is able to continue the suspense and fear that made the original film a classic.

The return of the great white shark keeps the tension high, and the pace of the film ensures that the audience is continually on edge with the picturesque Amity Island again becoming a haunting backdrop for the relentless pursuit of the beast.

While “Jaws 2” may not achieve the same level of iconic status as its predecessor, it remains a thrilling and effective sequel that successfully taps into our primal fear of the deep and relentless nature of the great white.

For fans of the original “Jaws” and those seeking more shark-infested thrills, “Jaws 2” provides a worthy continuation of the saga but it would have been really interesting to see what Steven Spielberg the original Jaws director would have brought to the table were he to have been in the director’s chair.


5. 47 Meters Down (2017) – Directed by Johannes Roberts

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“47 Meters Down” is an adrenaline-pumping shark thriller that plunges viewers into the terrifying depths of the ocean. It’s a gripping and suspenseful adventure and combines the fear of the unknown with the primal terror of being trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the sea.

The story revolves around two sisters, Lisa, played by Mandy Moore and Kate played by Claire Holt, who embark on a vacation adventure in Mexico.

The sisters are eager to experience the thrill of cage diving with great white sharks, but their underwater excursion takes a nightmarish turn when their cage detaches and plummets 47 meters to the ocean floor below.

Now stranded in the pitch-black depths of the sea, with limited oxygen, they must find a way to survive while surrounded by deadly sharks.

5. 47 Meters Down (2017) - Directed by Johannes Roberts - Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

5. 47 Meters Down (2017) – Directed by Johannes Roberts – Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

“47 Meters Down” is particularly effective in creating a sense of claustrophobia and isolation by using the ocean’s vastness and darkness to create an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, while the looming threat of the sharks adds relentless suspense.

The tension continues to escalate as the sisters are forced to confront the menacing sharks and deal with their dwindling air supply.

Their desperate struggle for survival is palpable, and the film keeps audiences on the edge of their seats throughout.

“47 Meters Down” is a thrilling and intense shark movie that taps into the primal fear of the deep, the unknown, and the apex predators that inhabit it.

It’s a must-watch for those seeking a heart-pounding underwater adventure filled with suspense and relentless danger.


4. Open Water (2003) – Directed by Chris Kentis

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“Open Water” is a haunting and realistic shark thriller that draws its terror from the chilling premise of being left behind in shark-infested waters. This film is not only inspired by true events but also relies heavily on its raw realism to create a gripping and psychologically tense survival story.

The film’s plot revolves around a couple, Susan (played by Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (played by Daniel Travis), who embark on a scuba diving vacation in the Caribbean. However, their dream vacation takes a nightmarish turn when a misunderstanding with the dive boat crew leaves them stranded in open water, miles away from the safety of the boat and surrounded by the unseen threat of sharks lurking beneath the surface.

4. Open Water (2003) - Directed by Chris Kentis - Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

4. Open Water (2003) – Directed by Chris Kentis

What sets “Open Water” apart is its commitment to authenticity. The film was shot on location in actual open water, with real sharks often present during filming. This realism, combined with the naturalistic performances of the two leads, creates a harrowing and unsettling experience that feels uncomfortably close to reality.

As Susan and Daniel struggle to survive, the film delves into the psychological toll of their predicament. The vastness of the open sea, the uncertainty of rescue, and the lurking danger of sharks all take a toll on their sanity and relationship. This psychological tension sets “Open Water” apart from many other shark movies.

“Open Water” is a chilling and unsettling exploration of the primal fear of being stranded and vulnerable in the ocean’s vast expanse. It’s a reminder that the real horror often lies not just in the physical danger but in the psychological toll of a desperate fight for survival. For those seeking a shark movie that feels uncomfortably real, “Open Water” is a must-watch and definitely one of the best shark movies to hit the screen.


3. The Meg (2018) – Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

When you have Jason Statham versus a massive 75-foot-long shark from the Mariana Trench then you know you are in for a shark-infested adrenalin ride.

“The Meg” is a larger-than-life shark thriller that combines the power of modern CGI with the colossal presence of a prehistoric megalodon, creating a monster of a thriller that’s nothing short of spectacular and takes the shark movie genre to epic proportions.

It’s a high-octane adventure that delivers sheer, unadulterated fun.

The film follows deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor played by Jason Statham. Jonas is called back into action to save a stranded submersible crew from the depths of the ocean.

Little does he know that this mission will lead to an encounter with a giant living fossil thought to be extinct for millions of years, the massive megalodon, a prehistoric shark of unparalleled size and ferocity.

3. The Meg (2018) - Directed by Jon Turteltaub

3. The Meg (2018) – Directed by Jon Turteltaub – Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

What sets “The Meg” apart is its audacious approach to the genre. The Megalodon is portrayed as an awe-inspiring force of nature, and the CGI brings it to life in breathtaking fashion. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, embracing its B-movie roots with a sense of humor and a gleeful willingness to embrace the absurdity of its premise.

Jason Statham leads the cast with charisma and action-hero flair, and the ensemble cast adds depth and humor to the story. The film doesn’t hold back on the action, featuring thrilling sequences of underwater exploration, daring rescues, and epic showdowns between man and monster.

“The Meg” is a roller-coaster ride of suspense, action, and monstrous spectacle. It offers an exhilarating escape into the world of giant sharks and is a must-watch for those seeking a shark movie that combines modern blockbuster sensibilities with a healthy dose of campy fun. Whether you’re looking for heart-pounding thrills or just want to witness a megalodon-sized spectacle, “The Meg” delivers on both fronts.


2. The Shallows (2016) – Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“The Shallows” (2016) is another gripping shark survival thriller that ventures into the realm of shark encounters with a thrilling and minimalist approach. It is a masterclass in building tension and suspense, all while featuring the charismatic Blake Lively in the stranded lead role.

The story revolves around Nancy Adams (played by Blake Lively), a resourceful and determined surfer who finds herself stranded on a remote rock, just yards from the safety of the shore, after suffering a brutal shark attack. With her great white shark attacker circling her, Nancy’s fight for survival becomes a heart-pounding battle of wits and physical endurance.

2. The Shallows (2016) - Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

2. The Shallows (2016) – Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

One of the standout aspects of “The Shallows” is its minimalistic setting. For a very large part of the film, it’s just Nancy and the shark. This adds an intense and claustrophobic dimension to the story.

Blake Lively delivers a powerful performance, making Nancy a relatable and sympathetic character as she uses her wits and resourcefulness to outsmart her relentless opponent.

The film captures the stunning beauty of the ocean and mixes it with the sheer terror of the situation. The suspense is palpable as Nancy’s fight for survival unfolds in real time, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.

“The Shallows” is a shark movie that relies on the primal fear of being trapped and hunted in a vast, unforgiving ocean. Its minimalist approach, combined with strong performances and breathtaking visuals, makes it a standout entry in the shark movie genre and a thrilling watch for those seeking an adrenaline-pumping cinematic experience.

A great shark movie on our best shark movie list.


1. Jaws (1975) – Directed by Steven Spielberg

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

“Jaws” (1975) is not just a shark movie; it’s the quintessential shark movie that sets the standard for suspense and terror in the water. This iconic masterpiece is a cinematic achievement that continues to captivate and terrify audiences to this day and generated some very cool Jaws Pop Culture Merch.

The film’s story is deceptively simple yet brilliantly effective. It’s set in the fictional seaside town of Amity Island, where a menacing great white shark begins to terrorize beachgoers and disrupt the town’s summer tourist season. The film follows Police Chief Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider), oceanographer Matt Hooper (played by Richard Dreyfuss), and the grizzled shark hunter Quint (played by Robert Shaw) as they embark on a perilous mission to hunt down the beast.

What sets “Jaws” apart is its masterful storytelling and suspense-building. Spielberg expertly uses suspenseful music, innovative camera techniques, and a minimalistic approach to keep the shark hidden for much of the film, allowing the audience’s imagination to fill in the terrifying details. The iconic John Williams score, with its ominous theme, adds immeasurably to the tension.

1. Jaws (1975) - Directed by Steven Spielberg - Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

1. Jaws (1975) – Directed by Steven Spielberg – Top 10 Best Shark Movies Ever Made

The film also delves into the psychology of fear, as the town’s leaders are reluctant to acknowledge the threat for fear of economic ruin. The tension between public safety and financial interests adds depth to the narrative.

“Jaws” is renowned for its timeless quality and ability to terrify generations of moviegoers. It’s a film that transcends the shark movie genre, becoming a classic of American cinema. Its impact on both filmmaking and our collective fear of the deep blue sea is immeasurable, making it the ultimate shark movie and a masterpiece of suspense and terror. If you haven’t experienced “Jaws” yet, it’s a must-watch that continues to stand the test of time.

Jaws is not just one of the best shark movies ever made it is the best shark movie ever made.


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