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20 Scary Movies That Will Make You Afraid to Go into the Water

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It’s hard to argue with the original. Consider this: If not for Jaws, the idea of a great white shark attack probably wouldn’t cross your mind at the beach—they’re very uncommon. Decades later, though, our eyes are still peeled for a fin on the horizon.

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2 / 20
Black LagoonVia

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Ever get a little creeped out when a slimy piece of algae slaps against your ankle? This classic monster flick is why.

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The Perfect StormVia

The Perfect Storm

Sure, take that fishing trip—what could possibly go wrong?

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4 / 20
The HostVia

The Host

Proving that amphibians can be just as scary as razor-toothed fish, The Host will have you eying your friendly neighborhood pond a little differently.

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Open Water/Open Water 2Via

Open Water

A realistic take on the Jaws phenomenon (the film is based on a distressing true story), Open Water shows what happens to a couple stranded at sea following a diving trip. Fun? Not really. Horrifying? You bet. Here are more horror films inspired by true events.

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Ghost ShipVia

Ghost Ship

With so much bad press about cruise lines lately, you probably don’t need yet another reason to fear ocean liners. However, Ghost Ship‘s got a few murderous spirits for you to add to your list. Freakier than the not-so-fresh shrimp you grabbed from the buffet, at least.

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7 / 20


That thin film of water pollution you see coastside? It could lead to a giant irradiated lizard hellbent on the destruction of humankind.

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The AbyssVia

The Abyss

Here’s a twist: In The Abyss, the creepy crawlies are the water itself. If that doesn’t do it for you, maybe the film’s claustrophobic interiors will.

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9 / 20


What’s scarier than a giant snake capable of swallowing an entire deer? A giant snake capable of swallowing an entire deer that can swim—especially if you’re J.Lo.

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Lake PlacidVia

Lake Placid

With all the sharks and ocean beasts lurking in this list, we’d understand if you headed inland for your next vacation. “We’re safe in freshwater,” you’d think—and then a 30-foot mutant crocodile would gobble you up. Should have gone to Disneyworld. Check out these 22 animals that are deadlier than sharks.

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11 / 20


Would you rather get taken out in a few big chomps from a shark, or in tons of vicious nibbles from lil’ piranhas? Weigh your options carefully while watching this scary cinematic masterwork.

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12 / 20


Another day, another calamitous seabeast awakening, thanks to ocean pollution.

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13 / 20
Deep Blue SeaVia

Deep Blue Sea

This is sort of like Jaws for the millennial set: There are sharks, yes, but they’re smarter, faster, more lethal after being used in lab experiments for an Alzheimer’s drug. Science, you are a cruel mistress. You’ll also want to check out the 16 scariest books of all time.

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14 / 20
Deep risingVia

Deep Rising

A crossover between Titanic and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Deep Rising follows an ocean liner on its first cruise as its passengers deal with thieves and a giant, destructive sea monster with tentacles. Kinda puts bad situations into perspective, doesn’t it?

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The DeepVia

The Deep

Emphasizing the ocean’s depth seems to be a common theme among aquatic-themed horror movies. And once a pair of vacationers unwittingly cross paths with dangerous treasure hunters, you can bet they’ll be in Deep trouble. Don’t miss the best Halloween movies to scare you senseless.

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16 / 20
47 Meters DownVia

47 Meters Down

If you’re considering cage diving in shark-infested waters as a fun sibling bonding activity, this movie is for you.

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17 / 20
It Came From Beneath the SeaVia

It Came from Beneath the Sea

Like Creature from the Black Lagoon, this horror flick also debuted in the mid-1950s, but watching it in black-and-white doesn’t make giant radioactive octopuses any less terrifying. Luckily, there are 6 reasons getting scared is good for your health.

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18 / 20
Dead CalmVia

Dead Calm

Many sea horror movies follow the same set-up: Some aquatic monster endangers the lives of innocent bystanders, whose only source of protection is their boat. But for the leading couple in Dead Calm, the monster may already be on the boat with them. Cue dramatic music.

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You’re used to hearing bumps in the night and seeing creepy shadows in dilapidated buildings, but experiencing haunted house vibes on a WWII submarine is a whole new kind of spooky. Here are 10 more ghost movies that will give you chills.

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The ShallowsVia

The Shallows

If we can learn one thing from this movie, it’s this: Don’t go surfing alone off the coast of a secluded beach. Even if you’re Blake Lively. For more chills and thrills, check out the 35 scariest movies of all time.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Reader’s Digest editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of revenue from our partners, such as Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at [email protected].

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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