While movies can often be a break from reality, sometimes you just want to see a movie where everything comes tumbling down and the world ends. Be it a zombie invasion, an outbreak of the plague, or good old-fashioned nuclear war, there’s plenty of scenarios for how humanity will fall. Here are some of the most notable films where the world as we know it comes to an end.
It’d be tough to find a post-apocalyptic film darker, bleaker, and more horrifying than The Road. Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, the film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father/son duo traversing the gray and desolate destroyed world. The two have already gone through plenty of heartbreak once the world collapsed and are in for a whole lot more terror and sadness further down their road of survival.
A Boy and His Dog
A young Don Johnson and his telepathic dog go on a journey for food and women in a weird world of raiders and underground societies. The whole telepathic dog aspect is strange enough but it gets even stranger when Don discovers what a paradise society really wants him for. The ending has such an outlandish twist worthy of being both tasteless and hilarious.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
When the news breaks of an asteroid heading towards Earth, Steve Carell’s wife leads him and he sets off to find a new love during the end of days. He sets off on this journey with his neighbor played by Keira Knightley. Just because the world is ending doesn’t mean one can’t find some love and there’s certainly plenty of that in this quirky romantic comedy.
Mad Max: Fury Road
The apocalypse never looked so colorful and exciting in George Miller’s long-awaited return to the Mad Max world. Tom Hardy takes on the role of Max, working with the rebellious woman Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to free the procured brides of the evil Immortan Joe. Featuring intense chases with absurdly dangerous vehicles, you won’t find a post-apocalypse world filled with more grit and nitro than this one.
Vampires luck out when a plague upon humanity turns everyone into a vampire. With the Earth now covered in bloodsuckers, there’s a dire need for more blood and it’s running out fast. Ethan Hawke plays a hematologist trying to develop substitute blood with two hidden humans but it could all blow up in his face as the vampires face their own apocalypse as well.
28 Days Later…
Cillian Murphy awakens in London 28 days after a zombie outbreak overtakes the world. But these are no ordinary zombies given how quickly the disease can spread when it enters the blood and how fast the undead can move. Fast and intense, the film has a fantastically frightening atmosphere presented by director Danny Boyle.
Children of Men
The future looks grim as no babies have been born in eighteen years and the world has gone mad. Clive Owen finds himself as a civil servant working for the resistance when he discovers there’s a pregnant woman among them. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men is a stylishly shot version of a very depressing future, loaded with gritty action and one of the most memorable long-take shots ever filmed.
10 Cloverfield Lane
When giant monsters attack, John Goodman is ready for the apocalypse with his underground bunker. He lets in the two younger folk of Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. but doesn’t trust them. Paranoia slowly grows and a chummy time spent underground turns into a nervewracking thriller where the giant monsters right outside the bunker may not be the scariest thing in this picture.
These Final Hours
The end of the world is coming and only a few hours remain left in Australia. Nathan Phillips is conflicted about his girlfriend being pregnant but needs to get back to her for one last embrace before the end. Along the way, however, he’ll also try to help a lost little girl as the world descends into depressing and violent chaos around them.
Dawn of the Dead
George A. Romero’s sequel of sorts to Night of the Living Dead is a bigger and bolder take on the zombie apocalypse. Whereas the first film confined a collective of humans to a house, this film finds them in a mall, holding off zombies with store gates and whatever they can find in a retail wasteland. Played up with great humor and gore, Dawn of the Dead is an exhilarating film with an unintentionally brilliant commentary on consumerism as zombies stumble through the mall.
Day of the Dead
Almost outdoing himself with his last film, George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, the third movie in Dead series, takes the fight for survival to an underground bunker. Aside from featuring more gore and more exploration on the nature of zombies, the film is most notable for an over-the-top performance by Joe Pilato as the chaotic and screaming Captain Henry Rhodes.
Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys finds Bruce Willis living in the post-apocalyptic world and trying to prevent it as well. Tasked with time travel by an underground society, he must travel back to the time before a plague wiped out humanity and stop what caused it. The answers may lie in a rambling mental patient played by Brad Pitt.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Easily one of the most quotable and satirical of takes on nuclear war, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove has some amazing wit delivered by the finest of actors. How could anyone forget the iconic roles of George C. Scott as the enthusiastic General, Sterling Hayden as the paranoid Brigadier General, and Peter Seller in three hilarious performances? It also features the most iconic juxtaposition of any end-of-the-world film with “We’ll Meet Again” playing over footage of mushroom clouds.
Just because the world has crumbled before a zombie apocalypse doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy a Twinkie. But don’t ever doubt double-tapping a zombie when you have one down. Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg bestow this logic during the zombie outbreak as they save some girls and try to survive in the ruins of humanity, with special guest Bill Murray!
Climate change turns the planet into a freezing wasteland where the last remains of humanity live on a train in perpetual motion. Chris Evans leads the weaker back car of the train’s caste system in a rebellion against the elites of the more decadent train cars further towards the front. A dark, violent, and allegorical tale, Snowpiercer showcases some astounding special effects and set design, as well as an amazing cast that includes Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, and Ed Harris.