10 Underrated Shark Movies That You Should Check Out

As filmgoers, we are swimming in a never-ending riptide of reboots, requels, and remakes. Jamie Lee Curtis will have battled Michael Meyers seven times after "Halloween Ends," yet "Jaws" has the distinction of not only being the first modern blockbuster film but also one of the only franchises that have never been remade. Some might say its inferior sequels are to blame, but you can't help but wonder why we haven't gotten a requel that's just called "Jaws"?

Instead of a requel, fans of shark movies have to sit through an endless parade of "Jaws" knockoffs that manage to pull out all the stops. Why? To distract from D-grade CGI, lame acting, or bad plots that can never go beyond awkwardly homaging Steven Spielberg's classic. What's so impressive about the insane array of shark horror released in the wake of "Jaws" — everything from the first exploitation flick "Great White" to the more recent "Sharks of the Corn" — is that the people who make them and the people who watch them are insatiable for more, regardless of quality. It is as impressive a sub-genre as it is an unnecessary one. Let's get gleefully lost in some underrated shark movies you should definitely check out.

Sharks of the Corn (2021)

There are more shark films that feature land sharks than one ever thought possible, and "Sharks of the Corn" does not disappoint as it documents the struggles of a rural farm town as they combat a hungry shark loose in the corn fields, an obsessive shark cult, and a serial killer lovingly called Mr. Shark. This film is so bad that it circles back into good. It looks as though it was produced on a budget of $20 with $15 of that budget going to buy the crew pizza. 

What this movie does really well is comment on the obsession some people have with sharks and the movies we make about them. A serial killer who uses shark teeth to commit his evil deeds has not been done before (so far as this author knows), but it feels original and disturbing while still evoking Francis Dolarhyde in "Red Dragon." Multiple antagonists prevented the film from having dead air, and since makers of shark films can't help but pay tribute to "Jaws" there are plenty of in-jokes about closing the corn fields to protect the townspeople and a mayor who thinks that is bad for business. For all its flaws, "Sharks of the Corn" makes for a wickedly funny evening of cinema to laugh with friends and make fun of the filmmakers.

The Requin (2022)

"The Requin" follows the horror trend of tackling trauma and PTSD head-on. Nothing about "The Requin" (or contemporaries like "Halloween Ends") seeks to leave anything under the surface, but they're never going to be a win for subtle filmmaking. Alicia Silverstone and James Tupper portray a married couple who take a vacation after suffering a stillbirth. Although our distressed couple reaps the benefits of an "off-season" vacation, that means it's also hurricane season. The weather displaces their hotel room which is literally on the water and sends them out to sea.

What's interesting about "The Requin" is that although the eventual arrival of hungry sharks will serve as our antagonist, this movie is really about what could happen if you make a series of bad decisions. Our heroes have the option of moving to a hotel room on land but choose not to. Similarly, when their room has become little more than a floating raft, our heroes choose to build a fire on the raft, which causes the entire house to go up in flames, reducing it to a "Titanic"-sized log and signaling a dinner bell for our sharks. Silverstone kills it as a final girl, which makes "The Requin" worth watching, but the shark drama often plays second fiddle to the trauma and human error, and that's perhaps a little too realistic for some viewers.

The Reef: Stalked (2022)

Streaming service Shudder rarely disappoints with its new releases, so expectations were high for "The Reef: Stalked." This sequel to 2010's "The Reef" goes the survivalist angle familiar to films like "Open Water" or "The Requin," rather than plot-heavy shark-foolery like you might find in the "Jaws" series. That has the benefit of making the film feel more real and immediate but can also pull you out of the welcome fantasy world of delightful disasters such as "Jaws: the Revenge," where our shark literally travels to the Bahamas to exact vengeance over shark murders he couldn't possibly know anything about (unless he subscribes to some kind of shark death newsletter).

A group of kayakers finds themselves the target of a great white shark which quickly ignites their battle for survival. What this movie does brilliantly is highlight the divide between rich and poor. When our heroes make it to an island for survival, we as the viewer think the movie must be coming to a close because that's what happens in these movies, right? Except when they make it to the island, they learn that the inhabitants don't have the resources to save them, which makes a lot more sense. "The Reef: Stalked" is a tight, gripping thriller that gives us some great scares and likable characters. However, the shark effects are some of the worst on this list, and downright unacceptable for 2022. An A+ movie with the special effects of "Sharknado."

Great White (1981)

"Great White" (a.k.a. "The Last Shark") is pretty cavalier in the way it strips "Jaws" for scraps and eats up its plot points like they were at an all-you-can-eat buffet three minutes before closing time. If it hadn't been for "Great White" saying, "It's okay, just mercilessly steal from 'Jaws,'" one wonders if the last 40 years would have been filled with more original takes on shark films instead. It was so brazen in its creative theft that Universal successfully sued the filmmakers for plagiarism, but only after the movie had already made $18 million.

"Great White" chronicles the small resort town of Port Harbor during its annual regatta. "Regatta" is one of the most entitled (re: white) words in the English language, which makes for a fun setting for a horror flick. Our protagonist is author Peter Benton (an obvious nod to "Jaws" scribe Peter Benchley) who teams up with shark hunter Ron Hamer to kill the Great White that terrorizes our wholesome regatta community. As you would expect, a sleazy mayor stands in our way and gives the shark ample time for bloodshed. This is such a wonderful entry in the shark genre before the intrusive effects of CGI. It also feels like this film smokes cigarettes and wears a leather jacket ... is there anything more punk rock than getting sued for being such a successful copycat of another movie?

47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)

This follow-up to the immensely well-done "47 Meters Down" manages to reinvent its central concept while still staying true to the themes and tension of the first film. If we look at the films as a pair, they are about survival in tight spaces, which makes them work like mini-plays. While some shark movies give our heroes an entire ocean or seaside town, "47 Meters Down" and this worthy sequel forces us to fight a baddie in confined spaces, which ups the ante for chills and thrills.

"47 Meters Down: Uncaged" centers around stepsisters Mia (Sophie Nelisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx) who navigate the complexity of divorce, remarriage, and sibling rivalry, but with sharks. Our heroes end up on a scuba diving journey that gives them ample time to sneak into a sunken Mayan cave ... what could possibly go wrong? You never quite buy when characters just break the rules and do something crazy dangerous, but here we are. Shockingly (said no one), they find themselves trapped in this underwater fortress and pursued by a great white. Here's the twist: the shark is blind. The filmmakers found a way to change the traditional shark narrative while still keeping it scary. An added perk is that you really fall for these characters, and even if you question their decisions you still want them to survive (mostly).

Shark Night (2011)

"Shark Night" needs to be remade right now. This film is ahead of its time as it tackles TMZ-paparazzi-style insanity coupled with the destructive power of social media. Yes, our sharks may come out front and center as the big bad here, but it's human nature that is the real villain. In a "Scream 4" move, obsessed crazy people film shark attacks that they orchestrate so that they can be famous on the internet. Could this happen IRL? Yes, absolutely. We're only one reaction video away from a TikTok serial killer.

"Shark Night" stars a bevy of teen heartthrobs and one "American Idol" alum. We have Chris Carmack, Dustin Milligan, and Katharine McPhee battling it out against a group of sharks dropped into a lake by the aforementioned "Shark Week"-fixated villains. What's fun about the movie is the freedom inherent in its implausibility. We don't often see attacks from both a hammerhead and a great white, but because we're introduced to the premise that the sharks don't belong there, it's sort of okay. No one watches this movie and says, "This would never happen," because it's not about regular humans responding to a dangerous environment, but deranged psychos creating a bloodbath for their amusement. It's not the shark movie people ever expected it to be, it is too prescient for that, which makes twelve years later a perfect time to revisit "Shark Night."

Land Shark (2017)

The low-budget camp-fest "Land Shark" asks the all-important question: What if dry land was no longer safe? What if sharks left the water to do their murders? With lines like, "These are the laser blasters," this movie is not for everyone. It looks and feels like a porno, but instead of the plot revolving around someone showing up with a pizza or a UPS package, we have evil scientists genetically modifying sharks so that they can travel on land despite a lack of legs. The acting is atrocious, which is part of what lends itself to porn comparisons. What's most unforgivable — if we are to watch this movie as a legitimate, serious shark piece, and we shouldn't — is that the shark looks and functions like a child's stuffed animal at a third-grade puppet show.

However, if you allow yourself to be lost in the camp madness of "Land Shark," stripping away any notions of realistic storytelling or legit kills, you can start to really enjoy yourself. The filmmakers are clearly having a lot of fun with this project. They obviously enjoy the genre and the ridiculousness of "Jaws" exploitation cinema. Have some friends over and make them watch this movie with you. As absurd as "Land Shark" is, it never wastes your time.

Jaws 3-D (1983)

While the first follow-up to "Jaws" told essentially the same story but with teenagers, "Jaws 3" moves the narrative along in a realistic and tragic way. Our corrupt mayor is gone, but a greedy and profit-driven theme park manager replaces him. Dennis Quaid stars as Mike Brody, all grown up. He works for SeaWorld and does not share his father's vitriol for the ocean and its dangerous inhabitants. Mike is dating marine biologist Kathryn (Bess Armstrong) who, along with park manager Calvin (Louis Gossett Jr.), sees the financial and educational potential that comes with keeping a great white in captivity. The catch: said shark dies and its mother is pissed, so she goes on a killing spree in the park.

It works like a Greek tragedy, where greed and revenge work together to bring about the downfall of society. What's terrific about "Jaws 3" is that the shark isn't just fighting back at the people who led to its child's death, it is rebelling against the very notion of forced captivity that is still acceptable in parts of our society. While "Blackfish" may have brought to light what captivity and mistreatment can do to killer whales, "Jaws 3" was saying it first. It's a message that might have gotten a little lost what with the lousy effects and the sad reality that this installment was released in 3D.

Deep Blue Sea (1999)

"Deep Blue Sea" is one of the few big-budget blockbusters to follow in the wake of "Jaws." While the genre has seen many imitators in low-budget or television efforts, our shark movies rarely get the shiny studio treatment. This solid effort has genetically-modified makos seeking their revenge. It three-upped "Jaws" by having three adversaries, and gave us a star-packed cast including some amazing performances by Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J. What confused the tone of the film was our protagonist Dr. Susan McCallister (Saffron Burrows), as her ethical concerns make "Deep Blue Sea" feel at times like a morality play in which she must be punished for her desire to manipulate the sharks, even for a good cause.

Despite some minor flaws, "Deep Blue Sea" is enormously entertaining, and the special effects still work 23 years later. What makes this film underrated is that it should have inspired a whole new wave of character-driven shark films. Instead, the genre shifted to small casts with hyper-realistic plot lines like "Open Water," "The Reef," and "The Shallows." The suspense of those movies was almost more about surviving the environment than the specific shark villain. "Deep Blue Sea" embodied the adventure horror from "Jaws," but what we saw over the next two decades was a massive departure. The genre is split in two halves, with movies like "Open Water" on one side and "Sharknado" on the other. 

6-Headed Shark Attack (2018)

Following in the great tradition of "2-Headed Shark Attack," "3-Headed Shark Attack," and "5-Headed Shark Attack" (why not 4-Headed Shark Attack, people?), "6-Headed Shark Attack" lives somewhere in the realm of shark attack soap operas. There is a bevy of hot youngsters who all seem to be experiencing relationship strife, and that's before we even introduce our central baddie: a literal 6-Headed Shark that can attack on both land and sea. You thought "Land Shark" would be an outlier, didn't you?

Watching this film is a completely ridiculous and satisfying way to spend a night in, but it might leave viewers with questions they want to be answered in subsequent films. In order for the 6-Headed Shark to function on land, two of the shark heads on the side have to essentially function as legs. Do those particular shark heads mind not being the main shark doing the murders? Also, if there was a "main" shark head, a quasi-leader, shouldn't that head be slightly bigger to indicate dominance? While this film might be the dumbest of those featured on the list, it is still great fun. Sharks can be scary anywhere: on land, in cornfields, or in top-secret research facilities. People will always tune in to be scared or amused by filmmakers' attempts to reinvent shark stories, all the while reminding us that "Jaws" was a perfect, unmatched blockbuster.