By Breanna Whipple
CALGARY – Perhaps the most powerful element of horror cinema is the ability to take something commonplace and manipulate it in such a way that it will linger in the psyche of viewers for years to come, or decades in the case of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). Jaws, of course, is where the infamous and unusually large, great white shark terrorized the populous of Amity Island during the Fourth of July weekend. Thirty-three years later, Shark Week, the shark-based program obsessed with the fabled great fangs of the ocean, would premiere on Discovery Channel in July 1988. To mark the month of July with the aquatic apex predator is undoubtedly appropriate.
Like just about anything popularized in cinema, the shark horror sub-genre has become over-saturated. For every Jaws we receive, a handful of schlocky garbage heaps made with the intent to pulverize viewers with painstakingly bad taste rather than primal carnage is sure to follow. We’ve been graced with more Sharknado (2013) films than necessary, and though dipping into CGI-ridden fun horror can be amusing, my preference lies with films that dutifully respect the legacy of nature’s perfect killing machine. Perhaps the answer we’ve been long-awaiting is the highly anticipated release of The Meg (2018), a $150 million budget horror film centering around a prehistoric shark expanding to 75 feet known as the Megalodon. Though we are weeks away from The Meg‘s theatrical release in early August, here lies a trio of terrifiers for you to sink your teeth into.
Jaws 2 (1978)
Four years after a monstrous great white terrorized the people of Amity Island, tourists and locals alike finally felt at ease returning to the water… until the appearance of a second, somehow more relentless great white. With its quickened pace and outlandishly violent kills, Jaws 2 feels much more like a slasher film than a sister-film in the series. Rather than having a masked killer with a sharp weapon, you get a giant fish with a mouth full of blades. If that isn’t stuff of absolute nightmares, I am not sure what is.
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Known for being the fastest swimming species of shark, the mako variation of finned terror is defined by intimidation. Deep Blue Sea manages to up the ante by introducing genetic modification, resulting in makos that are larger, faster, smarter and more aggressive. Birthed from an experiment in efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, this ungodly terror produces beneficial scientific results along with a succession of events demonstrating why Mother Nature is not to be meddled with.
The Reef (2013)
The story of The Reef is simple: A group of friends sailing together in the oceans surrounding Australia find themselves in grave danger when their boat is capsized along the Great Barrier Reef. With a story based on true events alongside footage of a real great white shark, this is not only the most authentic shark film listed, but arguably a contender as one of the best contemporary horror films to-date.Deep Blue Sea, Jaws 2, The Reef