- In the trailer alone, we hear a couple of phone calls from SeaWorld staff to local police. One call tells how Tilikum (the orca who is the focus of the documentary) has trapped a trainer underwater. The second call states that Tilikum hasn't just drowned a trainer, but eaten her. While this wasn't actually the case (he severed her arm but it was retrieved) the person making the call believed it to be, and the fact that it was severed at all is horrifying enough.
- The poster◊ for the film is plenty scary, showing an orca facing front on a black background. The only color bright enough to see being the large white patches that resemble eyes at the front of his head.
- The opening credits. We see whales swimming with trainers, with the 911 calls from various parks about whales attacking trainers plays over it.
- Tilikum himself is a frightening film subject. When he was brought to SeaWorld, he was twice the size of the other whales at the time. As he grew up, he was also quite well known for injuring trainers. The documentary covers what happens when he finally killed them.
- Much of the footage of Tilikum is Nightmare Fuel, showing how he injured trainers and eventually killed Dawn Brancheau (Senior Trainer at SeaWorld for years).
- The fact that we don't see the actual footage of Tilikum attacking Dawn, only of the events leading up to it.
- The autopsy of the guy who climbed into Tilikum's tank after hours. When they found him, he was slung over Tilikum's back, with multiple wounds all over his body, with his genitals having been torn off. They weren't able to tell if his wounds were pre or post-mortem.
- The question about how psychotic a human would be if kept in a bathtub for twenty years, since it is being used as comparison to the very-intelligent orcas.
- The detail to which Dawn Brancheau's body was savaged, and also Alexis Martinez from Loro Parque who was rammed to death by Keto is described by his mother and fiance as appearing as though his chest exploded. To make matters worse, when the fiance recieved the initial phone, she was told "He's fine."
- To make it even worse, Alex was killed two months before Dawn.
- Even worse is the context of the genitals scene. It's suggested that Tilikum is only being kept as a sperm bank to breed other captive females in parks over the world. If Tilikum's issues are a mental illness, the parks could be breeding more and more unstable orcas like him.
- Ken Peter's incident with Kasatka in 2006 has him being dragged down to the bottom of the tank twice. Possibly the only reason he survived was because he was an experienced scuba diver. Though, that's not all. The other trainers put a net out. When the whale finally let go, Ken "swims like a demon" to get out of the tank. Then the whale goes over the net. Ken manages to get to safety though, albeit with damaged feet.
- It's especially scary if the viewer knows that orcas, at least in the wild, typically won't try to go over nets even when they easily can (hence why people trying to catch orcas in the wild can trap a pod by surrounding it with a net).
- The way he quickly breathes before being dragged back into the water again by the orca. What's scary is that Ken knew that he was likely going to be dragged under for a third time and was aware that he couldn't do anything about it but wait for the right time to escape.
- The bloody scratches Tilikum gets from being bullied by the female whales.
- Speaking of those bloody scratches, they are called "rakes" and happen when orcas scrape at each other with their teeth. Footage in the film shows one of the SeaWorld orcas going onto the slideout with a particularly nasty rake mark that is just gushing blood.
- The bloody battle between Kandu V and Corky. The two orcas get into a tussle during a show. Kandu V rams Corky only to sever an artery in her jaw when she misfires and ends up hitting the far wall of the tank. She bled out for 45 minutes and footage of this exists, with blood spouting from Kandu V's blowhole and finally ending with Kandu V lifeless in the tank with her baby Orkid swimming around her. Footage here.
- The film of the Tamaree who is dragged into a tank by Orkid & Splash and only saved from certain death when another trainer thinks to let in Kasatka (the dominant female) into the enclosure is terrifying.
- Tamaree's arm as she's led out of the water, bent at a spine-chilling angle.
- The use of actual footage, be it of Tilikum's behavior, news reactions, SeaWorld capture facilities... it's disturbing because you know it's real.
- John Sillick is the guy who gets crushed between two whales and winds up hospitalized and paralyzed. What makes it worse is that from the video, it's ambiguous whether the whale decided to be aggressive or just jumped at the wrong time. Even when the whale's not actively trying to hurt you, you could still end up paralyzed from it missing its cue.
- The death of Keltie Byrne. The 20-year-old only had a part-time job at the Sealand park and was intending to keep swimming competitively. She ended up drowning due to the whales (specifically Tilikum) pulling her underwater despite her attempts to escape, and the eyewitness accounts make it all the more horrifying: the reason she couldn't get enough air to stay alive underwater was because she was screaming for help while she was above water and at one point one heard her say, "I don't want to die!" The other workers couldn't save her because the whales would drag her away whenever she tried to swim for a life preserver. And what lead to this horrifying situation? She simply slipped after feeding the whales and was dragged away as she was trying to get out.
- Alexis Martinez's death. His fiance describes that she doesn't know what happened, but she knows it wasn't an accident because when she and his mother came to see his body, his "chest was burst open". Alexis the night before said that he was exhausted all the time because he had to stay fit to train the whales and he could die at any time. Well, he was right.
- The fact that the details of the deaths and injuries of the trainers were allegedly covered up by SeaWorld so that the trainers would be responsible, not SeaWorld itself for its policies. This is to the point where officials came out directly saying that the trainers were at fault for the incidents, at one point stating that Brancheau herself would agree that she would be at fault. Imagine if the blame of your death was coldly placed on you so that a corporation wouldn't have to make changes to abusive policies and discrediting anyone who stated that you weren't to blame.
- The fact that all of this is happening because humans choose to keep sapient animals, animals that are self-aware, with languages, intelligence and emotions probably at least on par with a humans, in swimming pools for entertainment.
- The amount of It Can Think involved in the whales actions (with special mention to the pod that, after being robbed of their calves once, planned an entire strategy to fool the humans wanting to steal their calves, and when that failed stayed watching helplessly and calling for the calves as they were being taken away). Like the former catcher says, it is impossible to watch that and not think that you are ripping a small child from his mother's arms, with the added Kick the Dog in the fact that the whale can't know why her calf is being taken away and what will happen to it. The fact that they keep calling for them after days is proof that it would be less traumatic for them if they saw their calves being killed.
- The former catcher also outlines that three calves died from the stress of capture. They were told to cut the bodies open, fill them with rocks, and sink them to the bottom of the ocean with anchors tied to their tails. Brrrr.
Nightmare Fuel / Blackfish