What better way to celebrate Shark Week than with shark movies? Real-life sharks may be majestic creatures, but in the movies, they’re terrifying villains. From suspenseful classics to entertainingly dumb B-movies, here are the best shark movies to stream online.
Not only are the main characters in Johannes Roberts’ 47 Meters Down surrounded by great white sharks, but they’re also stuck at the bottom of the ocean and running out of oxygen. Roberts effectively captures the vast, stark emptiness of the ocean in this often horrific, disorienting movie, starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as sisters whose shark-encounter sightseeing trip turns deadly. The cage meant to protect them from sharks instead traps them, making them into easy prey.
47 Meters Down is streaming on Hulu ($6.99+ per month).
It’s not quite a sharknado, but a tsunami off the coast of Australia does bring with it a couple of sharks, which end up deposited in a flooded supermarket. Store customers and employees must escape both the flood waters and the sharks in order to get to safety. Director Kimble Rendall stages shark attacks in the store itself and in the underground parking garage, providing novel locations for the familiar dangers. The character drama is less engaging, but the menacing sharks make up for it.
Director Renny Harlin finds the perfect balance of campy silliness and nail-biting action in this over-the-top sci-fi thriller. At a remote base in the middle of the ocean, scientists create genetically engineered super-intelligent sharks as part of an effort to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, the sharks escape and wreak havoc, and the staffers are trapped with them in the underwater facility. The infamous scene of a shark interrupting Samuel L. Jackson’s inspirational speech makes the movie worth seeing all on its own.
Deep Blue Sea is streaming on HBO Max ($9.99+ per month).
Steven Spielberg didn’t invent the shark movie with Jaws, but he set the stage for nearly every subsequent shark-attack thriller. His classic blockbuster is still a brilliant exercise in suspense, building tension by keeping its central great white shark offscreen for much of the running time. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw play the men attempting to kill a dangerous shark terrorizing a seaside tourist town. From its quotable lines to its iconic John Williams score, Jaws remains the gold standard for shark movies.
None of the Jaws sequels live up to the original, but this second installment comes the closest. Director Jeannot Szwarc replaces Steven Spielberg, but Roy Scheider returns as the police chief of previously tranquil Amity Island. A new, more aggressive great white shark is out to get the residents of Amity, and the chief once again takes it upon himself to end the threat. Jaws 2 features more action and more kills than the original, but Scheider keeps it grounded, and Szwarc stages an exciting, inventive climax.
Real sharks don’t look like the giant monstrosities of most shark movies, so the sharks in Open Water may seem unimpressive at first. But they pose a genuine threat to the married couple who’ve been inadvertently left behind after a diving expedition. As the protagonists slowly realize that they are doomed to die in the middle of the ocean, whether by dehydration or drowning or shark attack, Open Water is more tragedy than horror, conveying the harsh, unforgiving brutality of nature.
Low-budget shark movies these days thrive on silly gimmicks, but director Misty Talley consistently approaches her high-concept, lowbrow projects with humor and a cheerful attitude. That goes a long way in a goofy movie like this, featuring a family encountering deadly sharks in the river during their Ozarks vacation. It’s all completely ridiculous, but Talley knows when to wink at the audience and when to deliver some honest emotional moments among her likable characters.
There’s a more serious tone to Australian writer-director Andrew Traucki’s film than in the average shark B-movie, and he takes time to establish his characters before they start getting chomped on by great whites. Five friends on their way to deliver a yacht find themselves stranded after their boat capsizes in shark-infested waters. Four attempt to swim for help, while one stays behind with the wreckage, but all of them have to evade the sharks that are stalking them, in this grim, relentless horror movie.
The Shallows is nearly a one-woman show for star Blake Lively, who plays a surfer trapped a maddeningly short distance from the shore by a circling great white shark. Lively’s Nancy can see the beach just a couple hundred yards away, but it might as well be 1,000 miles, given the danger in the water. Director Jaume Collet-Serra makes this into more of a single-person-against-the-elements survival thriller than a creature feature, and Lively brings grit and resilience to her resourceful character.
The Shallows is streaming on Peacock ($4.99+ per month or free with ads).
After helming two Final Destination movies, director David R. Ellis had the right background for making a shark-attack slasher movie. A group of attractive college students take a trip to a secluded lake house, where they’re picked off by a pair of backwoods psychopaths played by Donal Logue and Joshua Leonard. It just so happens that these villains use sharks to do their killing for them. Ellis mixes humor with some creative death scenes, for a fresh take on both the slasher and shark-attack subgenres.
Shark Night is streaming on HBO Max ($9.99+ per month).