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5 most terrifying shark movies


Date Posted: 29 June 2017


Claire Holt and Mandy Moore in "47 Meters Down".

Another summer, another shark attack. At least in the world of movies, that is.

Adding to the list this year is an upcoming shark thriller titled "47 Meters Down", which stars Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as two vacationing sisters stuck in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean.

To coincide with the release of "47 Meters Down", here are the 5 most terrifying shark movies ever made from the past to present.

5. "Open Water" (2003)

Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan trapped in the middle of shark-infested waters in "Open Water".

Once dubbed "The Blair Fish Project" following an overwhelming debut at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival (a reference to 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" as well as its low-budget cost and a small cast of unknowns), "Open Water" is one of the prime examples of how to make a scary shark thriller without relying on big special effects. This indie thriller, which reportedly was shot for just US$500,000, offers a simple yet intriguing premise: A young American couple (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan) are left behind in the middle of the ocean when their boat crew apparently forgot about them. Soon, they find themselves in the midst of survival when they encounter sharks in the waters. One of the biggest novelties here is director Chris Kentis and his producer wife Laura Lau's insistence to use real and untrained sharks to make the movie all the more frightening experience. It also helps that the two unknowns (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan), who happen to be a real-life couple, play their roles like real human beings caught in a dire situation without the standard Hollywood-type caricatures.

4. "The Shallows" (2016)

Blake Lively in "The Shallows".

Who wouldn't want to see a photogenic beauty like Blake Lively stranded on a rock with a great white shark circling around? The premise alone is interesting enough, especially since the movie revolves mostly around Lively's med school student character playing a one-woman show. The former TV's "Gossip Girl" star and Mrs. Ryan Reynolds proved to be more than just an eye candy. In fact, she actually delivers an engaging performance worth rooting for. Director Jaume Collet-Serra ("Unknown", "Non-Stop") stages some effective shark action here, while the CG shark itself looks convincing enough for a low-budget movie that cost a measly US$17 million to make.

3. "Deep Blue Sea" (1999)

Thomas Jane in "Deep Blue Sea".

Warner Bros. took a huge gamble by putting director Renny Harlin back in the waters and gave him a US$60 million budget to make the most expensive shark movie ever made. After all, Harlin's last movie set in the waters happened to be the 1995 big-budget fiasco of "Cutthroat Island" that sank the once-thriving Carolco Pictures (best known for producing "Total Recall" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day") into bankruptcy. Thankfully, "Deep Blue Sea" did manage to earn a modest profit at the worldwide box office while this shark-movie blockbuster itself is fun and entertaining. While the plot involves a group of scientists led by Saffron Burrows' Dr. Susan McAlester running an experiment to find the possible best cure for Alzheimer's disease using mako shark's brain tends to stretch believability, it's the action that really matters. Like "Die Hard 2" and "Cliffhanger", Harlin successfully crafted an engaging summer-movie blockbuster best experienced on the big screen. The action is top-notch, while the combination of CGI and animatronics effect on the mako sharks is visually stunning. For those who have seen this movie before, who could forget one of the character's now-legendary shocking death?

2. "The Reef" (2010)

A scene from "The Reef".

What would you do if you were stuck in the middle of the ocean and there's no immediate rescue on sight? This 2010 Australian horror movie offers a harrowing look at how a group of friends (Damian Walshe-Howling, Gyton Grantley, Adrienne Pickering and Zoe Naylor) take their chances to swim to a nearby island after their boat capsized. But here's the catch: the nearest island is 12 miles away and the ocean is actually infested with sharks. Shot with a minimalistic approach by writer-director Andrew Traucki, "The Reef" doesn't rely on CGI effects or even a sizable budget to make a legitimate shark movie. Instead, the movie benefits mostly from Traucki's engaging direction, in which he uses the vast ocean setting to generate a heightened sense of foreboding dread and despair. What makes the movie even scarier is Traucki's well-timed suspenseful moments, particularly during the four characters' first tense encounter with the shark as well as the movie's final stretch. Coupled with Rafael May's nail-biting score and actual shark footage filmed at South Australia's Port Lincoln, "The Reef" stands out as one of the best shark movies ever made.

1. "Jaws" (1975)

One of the dramatic scenes in "Jaws".

More than 40 years after its original theatrical release back in June 1975, "Jaws" still remains as the best shark movie ever made. Directed by the then-unknown Steven Spielberg, you know how the Peter Benchley-adapted story goes: Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) determines to hunt down a great white shark that has been terrorising the swimmers of Amity, with the help of an oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). Although the plot is pretty much a B-movie fare, what makes Spielberg's genre-defining "Jaws" such a cinematic masterpiece lies with his superb direction. He knows how to build tension using the power of suggestion and minimalism (notably during the legendary opening scene where an unfortunate teenage girl is attacked by an unseen shark). Then comes the final 40 minutes, where Spielberg truly shows his craft for mounting genuine suspense and edge-of-the-seat visceral thrills that no amount of today's CGI can beat the way he did back in the day. Of course, the success of "Jaws" is also largely thanks to John Williams' iconic theme along with an excellent cast from all three principal actors (Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw).

"47 Meters Down" opens in cinemas nationwide on 29 June 2017.

Writer: Casey Chong



Related Movies
47 Meters Down (29 Jun 2017)
The Shallows (28 Jul 2016)
The Reef (11 Aug 2011)


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