2018’s The Meg took the bombastic action of the Fast and the Furious series and gave it a surprisingly effective underwater horror spin. With its combination of ridiculous action sequences and explosive special effects, The Meg is a fun watch that will keep you on your toes, as there is no telling when something will explode or who’s going to get gulped by a giant prehistoric shark.
Let’s face it: few things are as terrifying as the open seas, and filmmakers have been capitalizing on this primal fear for decades. To prove that everyone’s scared of sharks and whatever lurks beneath murky waters, here’s our list of 12 great movies you’ll love if you enjoyed The Meg.
Ok, maybe not all sharks hunt at sea. Some of them, like the ones in 2013’s Sharknado, favor a more unconventional approach – like falling from the sky and landing directly on their unsuspecting victims’ heads.
As cheesy as the franchise might be, Sharknado – particularly the first film – movies are still a milestone in the genre. We’re talking about a film that knows how silly its premise is and just goes with it. You just have to admire how sincere Sharknado‘s filmmakers are.
Shark Night (2011)
Also known as Shark Night 3D, the production team behind this exciting shark thriller probably could tell that sharks are sufficiently scary without a third dimension, leading to the film being known just as Shark Night for most home releases.
The movie follows many well-loved slasher film tropes, only with sharks instead of homicidal maniacs. Our protagonists this time are a group of college students who come across an unlikely herd of sharks in a Louisiana lake.
The Reef (2010)
Luke works as a ship delivery man, and his latest job is delivering a luxury yacht to one of his more affluent clients. Naturally, he sees this as a chance to organize a fancy trip with his mates – until the costly vessel capsizes and leaves the group at the mercy of a vicious shark frenzy. The Reef is one of those relentless thrillers that refuses to let up even for a second, making it one hell of an enjoyable watch.
Lake Placid (2004)
Not everything that lurks underwater has to be a shark. Lake Placid had the brilliant idea of following the same formula used in countless shark flicks but replacing the killer fish with a ferocious gator instead. The result is an entertaining thriller with hints of comedy that gives The Meg a run for its money. Practical effects fans, just wait until you see the terrifying crocodile animatronic built for Lake Placid!
Great White (2021)
The most recent entry in our list is Great White, an Australian shark thriller that does not dawdle with fancy titles or anything like that: you get exactly what it says on the tin. While the movie is a bit more restrained than the bombastic masterpiece that is The Meg, your heart will be beating fast all the way through as you try to figure out who will survive in this tense scenario.
The gators are back at it again in 2019’s Crawl, produced by Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi. In this horrorshow of a thriller, swimmer Haley Keller gets trapped in her flooded house in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane in Florida. To make matters worse, with the rising tide comes a pack of hungry alligators eager to take a bite out of poor Haley.
47 Meters Down (2017)
This trippy shark film begins like the usual shark flick: two sisters go shark cage diving in Mexico, but something goes terribly wrong and leaves them trapped at the bottom of the sea with all the great white sharks waiting for their meal. However, the real icing on the cakes comes in the very last moments of the movie – it’s simply something that has to be seen to be believed, and spoiling it would ruin the entire film. Definitely watch this one!
Jaws 2 (1978)
Before we mention the one shark movie that everyone has heard of, we should first give some praise to its first sequel. While most of the sequels in the franchise are positively horrendous, Jaws 2 is a surprisingly solid entry in the series that doesn’t fall victim to the errors of its successors. Sure, the shark animatronic might not look as good as it did in the first film, but seeing Martin Brody back in action should be enough justification for any Jaws fan to see Jaws 2.
On this list, we’ve gone through every kind of marine creature with sharp teeth and ones that would be unmistakably unpleasant to find on any diving trip. From sharks to gators – and even a sharknado – nothing compares to the sheer cosmic horror of “the thing that should not be.”
Considering how popular the writings of H.P. Lovecraft are, it’s astounding to see that there are not many pictures like Underwater from 2020. Cthulhu fans invested in the mesmerizing mythos of the Deep Ones and the unfathomable fear that Cthulhu embodies will definitely find a lot to like in Underwater – not to mention the similarities between this film and The Meg‘s production design.
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Almost whenever a filmmaker has to decide which kind of shark they want for their movie, it’s always a great white. We get it: they’re big, have tons of teeth, and generally look like real-life monsters – but the great white isn’t even the meanest shark of the bunch.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to see they used mako sharks in Deep Blue Sea. The movie features the acting talents of Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Saffron Burrows, and the most passionate speech Samuel L. Jackson has ever given in any of his films.
Open Water (2003)
Most films exaggerate sharks’ behavior for dramatic effect. If The Meg was just swimming circles around Jason Statham, it’s safe to say that most of the film would be just a boring wildlife documentary. However, the 2003 indie film Open Water uses this same menacing (and natural) behavior to good effect as it relates the story of two amateur scuba divers left stranded at sea.
Relentless and undeniably panic-inducing, Open Water is one of those films that sticks with you long after the credits roll. Perhaps the most chilling part is that the movie takes inspiration from a real-life story of an abandoned couple stranded in the South Pacific during a scuba trip in 1998, the Lonergans.
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws will always be the undisputed king of shark films. Without its influence and massive popularity, movies like The Meg would have never been made – maybe we would all be scared of bears or some other carnivore marine animal. The effects might look dated, and the shark’s rubber teeth are hardly threatening in 4K, but Jaws still elicits a primal fear in every movie buff that sees it now, over sixty years after its original release.
A dorsal fin that emerges in the middle of the otherwise calm surface of the ocean, like a killer’s knife, coupled with the iconic string quartet directed by John Williams. These mental images are etched into the back of our collective minds each time we go to the beach, and it’s all thanks to Steven Spielberg and his mechanical great white shark.