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The 5 Best Ocean Based Horror Movies!!!

After reading about the deep sea “monster” captured on camera by an oil rig this week (footage included at the bottom of the article), my attention turned to all of the ocean based horror films out there – most of which are actually pretty bad. There’s a surprising amount of them and so many of them are pretty much just Jaws rip-offs.

They also tend to suffer from poor pacing, as though the ocean has lulled the writer, director and editor asleep in some regard. But not all of them are bad! So today I figured I’d celebrate the ones that actually work – the ones that entertain even if they’re not flat out classics.

Head below for The 5 Best Ocean Based Horror Movies!!!


This movie might not hold up all that well today (I haven’t watching it in almost 10 years so I wouldn’t know) given the familiarity of today’s audience with the found footage aesthetic and the scare-a-minute expectations increasingly expected of it. Of course, Open Water isn’t really found footage – neither of the two main characters are filming – but it embraced the documentary aesthetic in order to effectively unnerve the audience. In doing so, it was one of the first films in that style since Blair Witch to make a mainstream impact.

4: JAWS 2

While not as great as Jaws by any stretch of the imagination, Jaws 2 manages to skirt by on our familiarity and fondness for the original film’s characters and titular creature. It’s a pleasure to see Chief Brody back in action and the groovy 1978 vibe makes the film seem almost exotically stately by today’s standards. The film’s last act is actually somewhat interesting with this kids’ sailboat expedition. On top of that, the kills are decent for a PG film and the shark actually manages to go out in a fairly cool way as well.


This taut little thriller from Australian director Phillip Noyce is perpetually underrated. Starring Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill and Billy Zane, it makes great use of the ocean – using its vastness to isolate our protagonists. The performances are great, with Billy Zane in perfect effete sleazeball mode and Nicole Kidman in a turn that should have made her a star a year before Days Of Thunder. Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it.


I’m not sure where the debate came from regarding if this movie is “good” or not. Of course it’s good! How is this silly, gory lark anything other than a good time?! How is it not entertaining?! It has some of the best ocean based kills in history and perhaps the single best “post inspirational monologue” kill of all time. LL Cool J’s title song is the icing on the cake.


What else could it be? There’s nothing I can say here that hasn’t been said before – it’s one of the best movies of all time. Period. It will never be unseated and will probably never move from the top of this particular list.



  • doomas10

    Deep Blue Sea was great except that “terrible” CGI that was used 2-3 times. The practical sharks looked terrifying and the jump scares were very good. Pretty suspenseful film if you are asking me! Having said that, I would add…..DEEP RISING. I think it is extremely underrated and gory fun too!

    • doomas10

      and Jaws…..Jaws…..that film made me stay in land on summer…which is cruel if you think about it, considering that I am from Greece and couldn’t enjoy the wonderful beaches till I was a teenager!

      • djblack1313

        doomas10, lol. to this day i rarely ever go in the ocean! JAWS 2 (and of course JAWS) screwed my up enough to where i never feel comfortable in ANY body of water (even lakes! LOL)!

        • statik107

          Hey djblack1313 I feel your pain hahahahaha…I use to get freaked out even being in the deep end of my Grandma’s pool after seeing Jaws! Some friends took me water skiing once and I ate it and had to wait in the water while they turned the boat around. I almost passed out from the terror I felt sitting in the water alone!

          • djblack1313

            statik, right?!!! we had a pool when i was growing up and yes, i can’t lie, i would feel very uncomfortable many times while in a fucking pool!! lol. i’m telling you, JAWS 2 (came out when i was old enough to appreciate it’s horror. JAWS came out when i was just a little kid) FUCKED ME UP! 🙂

        • doomas10

          I know right? Watching the sea/water beneath you turning into something black that is coming closer and closer….these are nightmare stuff!!! I am afraid to swim in a pool if the lights are off! (I know I am a pussy, oh well ^_^)

    • Darkness69

      Hell yeah, Deep Rising is such fun that I’m surprised that it’s not here on the list!

  • Melissa

    I would replace Deep Blue Sea with Deep Rising. Far better movie or at least give it an honorable mention.

    • djblack1313

      Melissa, THANK YOU!! i was trying to remember the name of this movie! i love that film. i saw it twice when it originally was released in theaters.

    • divisionbell


    • mobstar67

      Deep Rising is a solid film all the way around… Good cast, a lot of good actors to rip apart as the movie progresses..the film never takes itself to serious and thats what kind of makes it so fun..

  • djblack1313

    Evan, why in God’s name would you use a picture from the abomination JAWS 4 for JAWS? lol.

    ORCA should be on this list. it’s IMO incredibly underrated. it also has one of the most heartbreaking scenes (the killing of the killer whale’s mate/baby. i think it was the mate, right?) as well as the movie’s ending is one of the most haunting endings i’ve ever seen in a movie.

    thank you for putting JAWS 2 on the list. it’s actually my favorite JAWS film. the scene alone where the shark swims up and chomps down on Marge (who just saved young Shawn Brody) is THE most horrific image/death scene i have ever seen in my entire life. lol. that scene and movie seriously fucked me up. to this day i rarely ever go in the ocean.

    i DO like DEEP BLUE SEA but i’d probably add PIRANHA 3D in it’s place. but i like your list Evan. DEAD CALM is an awesome and underrated thriller. Sam Neil really has been in some memorable, awesome horror/thrillers.

    • mobstar67

      Orca should have its place on this list without a doubt..

      • statik107

        I agree with Orca. Jaws too is awesome!!!

    • DevilDiabloDearieDear

      I utterly agree with you, ‘Orca’ is a classic, but ‘Piranha 3D’ a pointless piece of crap that is too derivative, dumb and horro free to matter, plus the lousy little Arnie fish naff, the green water stupid, and the attacks rubbish, with the gory aftermath of them, with skeletons showing it’s only use, and the overdose of beach culture unendurable beyond belief. ‘Piranha’ should be here if a ‘Pirahna’ film has to be, and I’d add ‘Deep Rising’ too, like many here have said. Also ‘The Reef’-even better than ‘Open Water’. ‘Jaws 2’ is excellent and I love it as much as the original, and it really was the first film to pre-empt the slasher love of putting teens in danger isolated from adults and help, yet didn’t make them all die in the predictable way all slashers do, plus most survived, and unlike slashers, they weren’t annoying stock type catwalk models that deserved killing.

  • Seal_Clubber

    Love this list but I would take out “dead calm” and put in either “Deep Star 6” or “The Abyss” – I loved both lol.

    • divisionbell

      And possibly leviathan as well

      • mobstar67

        I agree with “Leviathon”.. for its time it was a pretty modern underwater formula version of Alien. Good ensemble cast with Peter Weller,Richard Crenna,Ernie Hudson,Hector Elizondo and Daniel Stern..And that Amanda Pays was hot… I really enjoyed this movie and must of seen it 30-40 times.. the only thing that sucked was the shark attack in the final scene..overkill, but this movie should make the cut..
        possibly Deep Star Six as well.

        • djblack1313

          mobstar, don’t forget awesome Meg Foster was also in LEVIATHAN! 🙂

          • mobstar67

            right DJBLK add her to that stellar cast..i almost forgot Meg Foster with her video conference weather reports and then Peter Weller knocking her out in the final scene..
            Very hokey but for the time it was great.. The overblown personalities of that cast were awesome..

      • evilfairydust

        LOVE Leviathan! That movie scared the heck out of me when I was a kid.

  • Paulochainsawmassacre

    I love that Deep Blue Sea is getting some love on here, everyone I know hates it. I saw it twice at the cinema because the fun factor was huge. Open Water though? For me that movie was terrible, replace that with Deep Rising and I’d say this list is bang on. Honourable mention should definitely go to Deep Star Six and Leviathan though for sure, both great old school popcorn flicks.

  • djblack1313

    i just have to stress that that visual (in the pic used for JAWS 2 above) is my definition of the most terrifying, horrific, worst thing in the world. lol. that right there is what nightmares are made of.

  • deep_below

    Good list; the only one I disagree with is Open Water. I couldn’t even make it to the end of that one, it was way too slow.

    Dead Calm is kind of out of place here, though. I’d replace it with The Reef and just call the list 5 Shark Movies That Didn’t Suck. If we’re talking any movie that takes place on the ocean, though, two of my favorites are Below and Triangle, which are both underrated IMO. Also agree with the people that mentioned Leviathan and The Abyss.

    • djblack1313

      TRIANGLE was indeed awesome! i’ve watched the first half of BELOW and it’s also pretty good!

      • deep_below

        You should watch the second half if you ever get the chance. It’s pretty low key throughout but it picks up nicely towards the climax.

    • evilfairydust

      I enjoyed Triangle quite a bit. Not necessarily a brand new concept, but I thought it was executed very well, and the end was just twisty enough to be effective.


        And since you bring up Triangle then I would also mention Donkey Punch which was also well executed in my opinion. Overall I agree with the list as well as all of the other suggestions (i.e. Deep Rising, Leviathan, Deep Star Rising, The Abyss, etc,). Jaws, by the way, will never be duplicated in terms of its well regarded greatness it so deserves…

    • Paulochainsawmassacre

      Yeah, Triangle was really underrated, such a well rounded payoff! Shame Smiths other films aren’t as good. Not seen Below, will have to check it out.

  • AndrewSoukup24

    I like every movie on the list besides Open Water….I seen the movie a while back though and remember being highly disappointed in it..I would have The Abyss on this list…Deep Blue Sea is a great film though…glad to see people enjoyed it as much as I did.

  • Mayday

    Nvm Deep Blue Sea, Jaws 2 or Open Water. Deep Rising, Below, Triangle, Leviathan & The Reef were all better films. Ghost Ship’s opening scene and killing montage were better than those movies. Hell, Ghost Shark was more entertaining.

    • Paulochainsawmassacre

      Whats not good about Jaws 2? It’s awesome!

      • mobstar67

        Jaws 2 is a solid shark film and is probably second only to the original…
        Being that quint died and Hooper and or Dreyfus did not return it left a big void..Expanding on the parts of Ellen was a plus and they did incorporate deputy Hendricks a little more but it would of been nice to use his character to fill the void and join Brody on the shark hunt. Then those screaming teens were a little much at times… They could of done some different things with that story for the better…
        overall the finished product of Jaws2 soars above its competition in the shark genre but falls far behind the original in my opinion…still love it though..

  • jtlovecraft

    Is there anyone else who thought Ghost Ship was a good one?

  • mobstar67

    i went to the theaters day 1 for Deep Blue a sucker for a shark movie and it had the edgy up and coming cast and it looked promising..a few things rubbed me the wrong way the first being the CGI sharks..atrocious..then the other thing was the “Posideon Adventure” the film took over in the second and third acts…
    i wanted to love this film and it had tremendous potential but i dont feel like it has any business in the top 5. Orca or Leviathon, could of easily edged it out of the water.

  • mobstar67

    Does anyone think the 2001 Stuart Gordon film “DAGON” falls in this not the biggest HP Lovecraft guy but i thought Gordon did a great job on this freakshow..i know its not a shark movie but it is ocean related..interested to see what the feedback is on this film..i always thought it was a dirty creepy flick that stuck with me.

  • CTHL

    Yuck. Jaws 2 and Deep Blue Sea? WHAT? Open Water? Open Water 2 I might give you, but not 1.

    Deep Rising needs to be on there (and its sequel needs to be made!), and I don’t know what else… toss up between Leviathan and… Sphere (yea, I liked it -shrug-).

  • djizzle

    Ghost Ship…

  • Milk

    I love deep blue sea. I’ve watched it more times than I’m willing to admit to. It’s a guilty pleasure movie for me.

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