skip to main content

Come over to the…shark side

Posted on 18 June 2021 by Caitlin

I was at a sleepover – it is always a sleepover. We were all hiding behind pillows listening to the two musical notes that have plagued generation after generation. It was when Jaws violently threw itself onto the boat that I decided to not swim that summer. Even swimming in a pool or Lake Tāupo had me on edge.

Despite my first experience with the 1975’s classic Jaws – it is now one of my favourite movies. But what is it with shark films? How are they so enjoyable and terrifying? And how is the dialogue so cr*p while being very quotable. Let’s dive in.

Jaws set the tone for shark films and over the years there have been many thrillers containing sharks hunting and killing humans – and here at the Classification Office we have got to watch a few.

I recently sat down with Hayden, a Classification Advisor, and watched the latest addition to the shark genre, Great White. It was what we expected and more. Low ratings, cliché dialogue, obvious foreshadowing – oh the foreshadowing – and a dash of suspense.

Hayden pointed out how shark movies are often funny, even if that’s not intentional. The Meg is another film that had suspense as well as laughable moments, including comedic one liners such as “Meg versus man isn't a fight... it's a slaughter”. In Great White I thoroughly enjoyed “they’re hunting in packs!”

Filmmakers have obviously picked up on the comedy and have gone with it. Enter Sharknado. Although I found this film hilariously ridiculous, I do feel for the kid terrified of a shark flying through the window in a landlocked US state. Following this film notable mentions are Ghost Shark – where sharks literally fly out of a pot of soup – and of course 5 Headed Shark Attack and 6-Headed Shark Attack.

Sharks are ever evolving, as Senior Classification Advisor, Kirsten says “they have to keep changing shark movies to make them scary.” This clearly explains Sky Sharks, a big budget film where zombie Nazi’s ride on flying sharks in the sky.

Despite my love for shark films it’s not great that we are so obsessed with this movie villain and it is pretty evident that reaffirming sharks are the biggest threat in the ocean is unsafe for sharks or simply isn’t accurate. Alongside Bruce and his therapy group in Finding Nemo, I was delighted to watch 47 Metres Down a film that highlights being water safe is the most important thing – but these films are few and far between.

Shark films have changed overtime and have gone to great efforts to stay relevant. They will continue to evolve along with the film industry, and will always have a special place in my heart.  

Caitlin works at the NZ Office of Film and Literature Classification. Her views do not necessarily represent those of the Chief Censor or the Classification Office. Keep up with our blog posts by following us on Facebook and Twitter

Help Information

At the Office we know that everyone has a line. What might seem like an easy watch for one person could be different for another. In this blog it's highlighted that sharks might not be so scary anymore, but it’s okay if they are for you. If the content of this blog has made you feel uncomfortable please reach out. Talk to your friends or whānau or you can free call or text 1737 for more support.


To comment as a guest without having to login, click inside the comment field below. This will reveal a field labelled "Name". Click in the "Name" field to reveal the "I'd rather post as a guest" checkbox. Tick this checkbox and then fill in your name and email address. You can use a nickname if you don't want to use your real name. Happy commenting!