In the trailer for his new film Beast, opening today, Idris Elba punches a lion. It sounds like the stuff of pulp trash, but the survival thriller/animal attack genre is wide-ranging, encompassing prestigious Oscar bait movies, extreme gore-fests, and lots of low-rent trash (both good and bad).
These disparate films are united in exploring the idea that nature is uncontrollable and can turn on us at a moment’s notice, upending our camping trips, jungle excursions, and surfing safaris alike. There’s pleasure to be had in watching our protagonists find ways to survive (if they do) in the face of animal fury, or the opposite; personally, I’m rarely sold on the idea of rooting for the humans.
These are 20 of the best examples of this weirdly specific sub-genre. We’re sticking to real animals that you might actually come across in nature, so no dinosaurs or talking apes. Which isn’t to say these are nature documentaries—don’t go looking too hard for accuracy when it comes to the animals’ size or behavior.
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