Spoilers aweigh! Maneater may be flawed but it boasts an admirable commitment to fast, no-nonsense kills. For the shark it’s like one of those expensive 17-course taster menus where they whisk your plate away and something else instantly appears. And it is expensive for the shark, who eventually pays with — ding ding — its life! Still, what a great last day. (if you’re after my review it’s here.)
Order of deaths
They are: an unnamed diver / Harlan’s daughter Jennifer / an unnamed jumper / Captain Wally / Wally’s wife Beth / Emma / Ty / Breanna and Sunny / the shark / Will / Peter’s 10 year old son
How they all died, and that ending
The opening credits show an anonymous diver exploring the gorgeous reefs get munched by the Great White.
Jennifer, Harlan’s twenty-something daughter, goes surfing on her own and is knocked off her board. She tries to clamber back on but realises she’s missing one of her hands; then the Great White comes back in for the kill. Harlan, a widower, later tells the sheriff he only had bits of her to bury after her remains were washed up on a local beach.
A young man jumping off a popular cliff into a lagoon is grabbed in mid-air by the shark, which leaps up out of the white surf.
Captain Wally, on the boat with his wife Beth while Jessie and her friends spend a night on the island, drops his walkie-talkie radio into the sea. He goes into the water to grab it, but while he rests on the boat’s steps he’s killed by the shark. (It’s Wally’s headless body that Harlan later finds floating in the water.)
Shocked by what has happened to her husband, Beth falls in to the water, tangled in some of the boat’s ropes, and she too is killed.
Next morning on the island, Emma and Ty wake up early and go for a swim. Ty has previously cut his hand badly on a knife and has been warned by Wally on no account to go into the water, as sharks can smell the blood. In the sea, he and Emma are attacked. Emma is killed and Ty‘s body is later discovered on one of the island’s beaches by Jessie and Sunny.
Wally’s radio is discovered washed up on the island, so Will rows back to the boat in the dinghy to find out what has happened. Sunny, Brianna and Jessie shout to Will to come back now they’ve discovered Ty’s body. As Will rows towards them they see the shark, which tips him intro the water. He’s attacked near the shore. Brianna ties a rope round herself and dives in to save him, with Sunny and Jessie ready to pull her in once she’s got hold of Will.
They do this, but the enormous shark grabs Will and Breanna, and pulls Sunny into the sea too. Both young women are killed, though Will survives and drags himself up onto the beach, minus a leg. Jessie tries to treat him with a belt tourniquet and alcohol. She then calls for help on the radio, her appeal heard by Harlan who comes to find her. (We see Will‘s body at the very end, and he looks as if he’s died.)
The shark is trapped in a shallow bay; the tide has gone out and it can’t swim out over the reef. Jessie decides to act as bait, diving off the reef and swimming as fast as she can to Harlan’s rather decrepit boat. The shark chases her but as she reaches the boat she ducks down into the water, just as the shark launches upwards and opens its cavernous mouth. Harlan repeatedly shoots it, and it sinks dead beneath the surface. Jessie resurfaces, alive and well.
There is one more death: at the end of the film, Harlan is visited at home by his friend Sam, who brings with him a young man called Peter. Peter has a tourism business in South East Asia, and his 10 year old son has been killed by a shark, along with two tourists. They want Harlan, now a hero, to go and kill it. Harlan agrees, despite not wanting to go back to that area (presumably he’s a Vietnam veteran).
That newspaper joke
Harlan has a framed front page of the local paper, which calls him a hero. The article states eight victims will have their ashes scattered from a boat (it’s not clear which 8: maybe Breanna, Will, Ty, Emma, Sunny, Wally, Beth and the tombstoner guy — Jennifer has already been buried). It also states that two families are suing the local government, the tourist board, and even “the concept of sharks”.