The weather’s warming up, the beaches are ready for visitors, and your psyche is all set to misinterpret every bit of seaweed lightly brushing against your leg as the first moments of your impending death by killer shark. This is thanks, in large part, to Hollywood, whose helpful filmmakers have primed our imaginations with scenes of murderous fish that, unlike their real-world counterparts, are primed to rip any hapless swimmer, surfer, or errant British spy to bits at a moment’s notice.
YouTube’s Rossatron looks at the rich cinematic heritage of this fear in a video all about how to make shark scenes sure to instill viewers with a lifelong terror of any body of water deeper than a puddle.
His first point? Take notes from Jaws, still the high-water mark for killer shark movies all these decades later. Discounting the distinctly un-sharky mutants from movies like Sharknado, Rossatron looks instead at slightly more grounded examples (as grounded as you can get with water-stalking serial killer fishies, anyway).
First up is Deep Blue Sea, which the video lauds for its understanding and frequent use of the terrifying speed of a surprise shark attack. Next, Rossatron looks at how Open Water bases its entire premise around not being able to tell what’s going on in the miles of murky water just beneath you, letting your imagination run wild with visions of glassy-eyed death fish silently planning their attacks unseen.
He also wades into more technical choices, like whether practical or digital recreations are more effective, how to use sound effects and music to compensate for shark’s being very quiet, and the best ways to balance showing too little or just enough of the creature to keep it scary. It’s a good watch, especially as a way of remembering which shark movies are worth revisiting if you want to feel total fear this summer while swimming in the ocean, keeping a beady eye on the menacing waters of a freshwater lake, or just watching a deeply unnerving bath tub filling.
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