Most of us are trying to distract ourselves from the grim details of the coronavirus pandemic, which is practically impossible with all the news coverage. But rather than avoid why not indulge in the fantasy of what could be if the worst actually happens? Scare yourself silly and give yourself some food for thought with these 15 movies about pandemics (not all zombie) that are currently available to stream.
12 Monkeys (1995) – Hulu
This Terry Gilliam classic looks at how devastating pandemics transform societies. Set 2o years after a deadly plague released by terrorists swept across the planet, Bruce Willis is a prisoner offered an opportunity at freedom if he will go back in time and discover the source of the plague and help stop it. The confusion caused by time travel lands him in a mental institution in the past where he encounters a delightfully wacky Brad Pitt. But he may already be closer to the answers he is seeking than he thinks.
28 Days Later (2002) – Hulu
This Danny Boyle film shows the aftermath of the breakdown of society after the release of a highly contagious virus. We see how the world has changed through the eyes of four survivors played by Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders), Naomie Harris, Megan Burns, and Brendan Gleeson. Of course there are also zombies, and unethical military leaders played brilliantly by Christopher Eccleston.
93 Days (2016) – Netflix
Set in Nigeria during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, this film focusses on the sacrifices made by the health workers in Lagos to contain the outbreak. The film stars a mix of Nigerian and international talent including Bimbo Akintola, Danny Glover, Somkele Idhalama and Bimbo Manuel. It also tells the often hidden story of how the virus was imported into Nigeria by a Liberian American diplomat.
Children of Men (2006) – Hulu
This is another movie set in the aftermath of a pandemic when society has already been irrevocably changed. But not just society, also mankind itself which has been infertile for 18 years. Humanity faces extinction. Most of the world’s governments have broken down, and those where order prevails are flooded by illegal immigrants. Clive Owen plays a former aid worker turned black market smuggler who brings people into the UK for a price. But his world is turned on its head when one of the people he is asked to smuggle turns out to be a young pregnant woman.
Contagion (2011) – Hulu
This Steven Soderbergh film has found a new following in recent weeks. With an all-star ensemble cast, the film is set during the outbreak of a virus which is transmitted by contaminated objects. We follow the people looking for a cure as society breaks down around them. Starring Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle and Sanaa Lathan, to name just a few.
The Cured (2017) – Prime
A plague sweeps through Europe turning people into zombies. Fortunately, a cure is found that is effective on 75 percent of victims. The 75 percent, known as the cured, struggle to be reintegrated into society. The 25 percent, known as the infected, are kept in quarantine, while arguments rage about the risk they pose in terms of another outbreak. Starring Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.
Doomsday (2008) – Prime
More of an action flick than a serious pandemic movie, in the future Scotland has been quarantined because of a deadly virus. Political leaders in London decide to send in a team of elite soldiers, led by Rhona Mitra to find a possible cure that exists. But those that have been left in the quarantine zone, while not all infected, have adapted to a new way of life. There are many challenges to face, and truths to discover, on the journey.
Flu (2013) – Netflix
This South Korean film focusses on the outbreak of a deadly form of flu that kills its victims within 36 hours. It throws a heavily populated neighborhood into chaos as everyone fights for survival. One group of vigilantes discover a girl from the epicenter of the disease who is also immune. They must track her down to try and save themselves, and society. Starring Kim Sung-jin, Seo Jong-hae, and Jeong Hoon-tak.
It Stains the Sands Red (2016) – Prime
Yet another virus outbreak that takes the form of a zombie apocalypse, we follow a loan woman, played by Brittany Allen, as she tries to make her way across the Nevada desert to an airfield and escape. All the while she is pursued by a loan, but persistent zombie.
Maggie (2015) – Prime
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin, the action star plays father Wade who seeks out his daughter who has been infected during a zombie apocalypse. While the world is slowly recovering from the outbreak, those that have been infected are being rounded up and quarantined. Wade’s daughter, Breslin, calls him and tells her not to look for her because she has been infected. Nevertheless, he sets out to find her, bring her home, care for her, and protect her from the authorities.
Outbreak (1995) – Netflix
Starring Dustin Hoffman Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman, a virus similar to Ebola makes its way to a small town in the United States. With the ravages of the virus already seen in Zaire, how far with the American government go to contain the outbreak within its own borders. But it also seems that not everyone wants to find a cure, and the outbreak may have been no accident.
Pandemic (2020) – Netflix
A docu-series rather than a film, viewers will find the episodes about previous pandemics addictive. It also dips into speculation such as what would happen if there was an influenza outbreak, research into a universal vaccine, and warnings about emerging viruses. The six episodes also take a deep look at the challenges and difficulties faced by those on the frontline.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Hulu
Not all pandemic movies need to be scary. This Simon Pegg and Nick Frost collaboration about a zombie virus outbreak in the United Kingdom takes a hilarious look at exactly how society would respond, especially those that might not have been paying that much attention and are a little behind. There are some very memorable lines in this film that we might find useful in the coming weeks.
Virus (2019) – Prime
This Indian Malayalam-language film is set during the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, India in 2018. It starts with a young infected man being taken to a government medical research facility where he dies after a few hours, but not before infecting 18 more people, 16 of which die within hours. We watch as medical workers try and fight this deadly disease that they do not yet understand.
World War Z (2013) – Netflix
Another zombie apocalypse, as well as providing plenty of frights, blood, and gore, this film also tries to look at how the government might actually respond in terms of medical treatment quarantine, safe zones and so forth. Brad Pitt stars as a former United National investigator who is called on to travel to dangerous epicenters to try and find the cause of the outbreak, and hopefully also a cure.