Unless you’re the Wicked Witch of the West, water is probably pretty low on the list of things that freak you out. But buried deep down inside our lizard brains is a certain primordial fear of this wet wonderland. With movies, we’ve just gotten the chance to make our darkest fears of deep chasms and killer sharks come to life. Or, you know, a floating Baby Ruth. Before you catch IFC’s Jaws marathon, check out a few flicks that feel like they’re ripped straight from our soggy nightmares. Guess that whole bathing once a day thing is going to have to be put on hold.
10. Final Destination 4
Over the years, the Final Destination movies have tapped into just about every fear of death one could think of. From flying rocks to tanning beds to public buses, if there’s even a remote chance of something killing us, they’ve done it. But for the water-phobic among us, no death has been quite as horrifying as that of Hunt Wynorski, who met his untimely end by way of a particularly determined pool drain.
9. Friday the 13th
The final scene in Friday the 13th is so shocking because we could see that happy ending within reach, before Jason’s rotted mitts snatched it away. Apparently, this angry tween had been lurking at the bottom of Crystal Lake for years, just waiting for everyone to feel safe and sound, before executing one of the biggest jump scares in movie history. It’s a moment that makes our childhood fear of being laughed at in our bathing suits at camp seem tame in comparison.
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street
There’s nothing more relaxing than a good, ol’ bubble bath. Light a candle, shut your eyes, and let it all go. That is if that jerk Freddy doesn’t ruin it for us. Can’t a girl have a soak without some creep getting all up in her business?
7. It Follows
It Follows was one of the freakiest movies to come out in recent memory. A morality play about the importance of never having sex with anyone, ever, for any reason, it also reminded us that the quickest way to ruin a pool party is to invite an inhuman killing machine determined to devour you for getting your groove on. Well, that and peeing in the pool.
6. The Perfect Storm
Everyone loves a day out on the water, with some fresh air and a couple suds, but you really need to make sure there isn’t a “perfect storm” coming. Those can be a real pain in the butt.
5. Let the Right One In
The 2008 Swedish horror film Let The Right One In was creepy from top to bottom, but no moment better exemplifies its particular brand of fear than the scene where our young lead, Oskar, is forced to hold his breath under water at knifepoint only to be rescued in an unexpectedly vicious way. For those of you annoyed by the rough housing kids at the public pool, this really takes things to another level.
4. Open Water
Open Water was loosely based on the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, a couple accidentally left behind by their scuba tour group in the Great Barrier Reef, and never heard from again. Cast adrift in the middle of the ocean, lacking sustenance, and plagued by sharks, this movie reminded us how fragile the protective cocoon of society is. This is a monster movie where the monster is nature itself.
One of the creepiest scenes in the 2012 supernatural horror flick Sinister is so short, you might blink and miss it. There’s a moment early in the movie when our protagonist, played by Ethan Hawke, finds Super 8 films in his attic of families being spied on, and then killed in increasingly vicious ways. One of these films depicts a family having a fun pool party, only to abruptly cut to them tied to their own chairs, and yanked into the pool to thrash and die. The subdued way it’s portrayed only highlights how terrifying the footage is we’re watching.
Y’know, there are a lot of reasons why we don’t want to get in the water. Sharks, monsters and crazed killers are right at the top of the list, but someone dropping a deuce in the pool isn’t that far behind. The comedy classic Caddyshack shows us this fear come to life, and how quickly a group of carefree swimmers can become a stampede. In the words of Kenny Loggins, you may be all right, but we’re going to steer clear of the pool until they give it a good cleaning.
Da-Dum…Da-Dum…Da-Dum-Da-Dum-Da-Dum! When it comes to movies that make us want to stay out of the water, there’s only one that could top the list. In the summer of 1975, Jaws helped create what we think of as the modern blockbuster, and changed the way we look at our oceans. In fact, the movie made us fear great white sharks so much, we spent the next few decades hunting them to near extinction. So, in a sense, the scariest monster on this list might just be us.