26 Best Survival Movies on Netflix (April 2024)

We love stories of grit, spirit, and human courage. It could be the story of a stranded castaway stuck on an island far from the inhabited lands or the story of a plane crash survivor struggling to survive in extreme temperatures. We love them all. A lot of these movies are also based on real-life stories that make the death-defying acts of the protagonists even more fascinating. It’s inspiring to cheer for people who are stuck in brutal conditions, and it’s even better to watch them survive it with battle scars that they’ll wear for the rest of their lives.

But we must admit that being in a dangerous situation where you’re struggling to light a fire by rubbing two rocks or building a boat to cross the unmerciful ocean wouldn’t be a good feeling. It’ll be more or less of a nightmare for most of us. And that’s why we prefer to watch all of that instead of experiencing it. Luckily, Netflix has an incredible collection of such movies, taking the audience into all sorts of extreme situations without putting them in a shred of danger.

26. Prey (2021)

Getting murdered by someone who’s standing right in front is one thing, and having no idea who is shooting at you is a whole different ball game. This is what a group of five boys, out on a hiking trip, are subjected to in Thomas Sieben’s German film ‘Prey.’ Starring David Kross, Hanno Koffler, Maria Ehrich, Robert Finster, and Yung Ngo, the film is fast-paced as it should be, and we follow the group as it struggles to stay away from the crosshair of the assailant whose location they have no idea of. The nearest road is no less than 20 km, and there is no signal on their phones. Will this game of cat and mouse only end when all five of them are dead, or will the killer reveal himself/herself at some point? To find out, you can watch ‘Prey’ here.

25. 65 (2023)

Starring Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt, ‘65’ is directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. It follows a pilot named Mills who crash lands on prehistoric Earth (65 million years ago). Other than a young girl named Koa, all other passengers on board die in the crash. Stranded on an alien planet, the two have to stay together and be safe while waiting for help to arrive. However, prehistoric Earth, as we know it, isn’t a safe terrain at all. Dinosaurs walk its surface, and it’s not a place for the weak. The fight for survival has never been more brutal, and now Miller and Koa are in it, too. We find out about their experiences and adventures during their time on Earth and whether they can get out of the planet in the movie. You can stream it here.

24. The Silence (2019)

Pretty much like ‘Quiet Place,’ ‘The Silence’ follows the Andrews family of six who find themselves stuck amid a nationwide attack by flying creatures who hunt by listening. So make any noise, and they may come to get you. 16-year-old Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka) finds refuge in a remote house. As if the creatures, called vesps, weren’t enough, a cult led by a reverend arrives at their doorstep, willing to recruit Ally. What follows is how the family survives the creatures and the cult and that too without making any noise. Directed by John R. Leonetti, the rest of the ‘The Silence’ cast includes Stanley Tucci, Miranda Otto, Kyle Breitkopf, Kate Trotter, and Billy MacLellan. It is based on Tim Lebbon’s 2015 horror novel of the same name. You can watch it here.

23. Time to Hunt (2020)

Originally titled ‘Sanyangeui Sigan,’ ‘Time to Hunt’ is a South Korean action thriller film. The film is set in the near future, where a severe financial crisis turns South Korea into the definition of dystopia. A group of youngsters from the slums live on crime to support themselves. However, after a messy but successful heist at a gambling house, their problems snowball into much more when they start being hunted down by a mysterious killer. With action-packed sequences and a dystopian setting, the movie has all the elements that genre lovers usually look for! You may watch the film here.

22. Nowhere (2023)

Directed by Albert Pintó, ‘Nowhere’ is a Spanish survival thriller that pins two of the most powerful forces of nature against each other, motherhood and ocean. Amid a totalitarian government taking control of Spain, pregnant Mia (Anna Castillo) and her husband Nico (Tamar Novas) try to escape the country in a container. Unforeseen circumstances leave her all alone and locked inside the container that is now floating in the middle of an ocean after getting knocked off the cargo ship due to a storm. All that she has are a few boxes of the essentials, including food and a phone with which she can talk to her husband. But things get even worse when her water breaks. What follows is how she survives in the ocean with her newborn without having any idea of how long she will have to float. Meanwhile, the water is slowly rising, thanks to the holes in the container. ‘Nowhere’ is bound to get you on the edge as you join Mia in looking for a way to survive and/or hold on until help arrives. You can watch it here.

21. Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Melanie Joosten, ‘Berlin Syndrome’ is a chilling psychological thriller that follows Australian backpacker Clare (Teresa Palmer), who meets an English teacher named Andi (Max Riemelt) in Berlin, Germany. Clare ends up making love to Andi at his place and wakes up the next morning to find out she has been locked in. While Andi seems to have forgotten to leave the key, as days pass, it gets clear that he doesn’t want Clare to leave. Moreover, he intends to kill her. Before it’s too late, Clare has to figure out a way to escape or get the word out. How will she do it? To find out, you can see this Cate Shortland directorial right here.

20. Circle (2015)

‘Circle’ is a psychological thriller set in a single location where fifty strangers find themselves arranged in two concentric circles in a room. The science-fiction movie is inspired by the 1957 drama ‘12 Angry Men.’ The extraterrestrial experiment is a matter of life and death as people vaporize every two minutes or if they try to leave.

The participants soon realize that they can vote to nudge the danger away from themselves. Although set against a fictional backdrop, the film does not skimp on the existential questions that we, as human beings, face. How we evaluate life when it comes down to the bare basics and our will to survive is captured with haunting accuracy. Feel free to check out the movie here.

19. #Alive (2020)

Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, this film builds on the fear of viruses with an extra dose of zombies. Joon-woo (Yoo Ah-in) is a teen gamer who is left alone in his parents’ apartment as a zombie outbreak takes over the city of Seoul. Joon-woo fights to survive and finally learns to fend for himself.

The film also captures the budding romance amidst the apocalypse between Joon-woo and another survivor isolating herself in her apartment, Yoo-bin (Park Shin-hye). As internet services shut down, it becomes harder to survive and seek help. Although highly dramatized for the current situation we are living in, the film is relatable when it comes to dealing with topics of loneliness, decisions that question ethics, and even the importance of communication, albeit through social media. You can check out the film here.

18. IO (2019)

The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where almost all of the human population has left our planet and moved to Jupiter’s moon, IO. Earth has been declared toxic, but scientist Sam Walden believes otherwise and still wants to find a way for humans to live on their home planet. She sends out a broadcast message one day to see if anyone who is still on Earth will come to find her.

A man named Micah hears the radio transmission and visits Sam. But Micah is not at all convinced by her notions and believes that there is no scope for survival on Earth anymore. They both have a tough decision to make — should they take the next shuttle, which is the last one to IO, or stick around and find a solution? You can watch the movie here.

17. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (2020)

‘Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight’ is a Polish supernatural slasher film that is originally titled ‘W leslie dziś nie zaśnie nikt.’ The movie follows a group of teenagers whose lives revolve around technology. Therefore, they attend an offline rehabilitation camp in the forest with no access to their cell phones. While this might sound like bliss to many of us, that is not the case with the group, as a sinister force lurking in the forests threatens their existence. Directed by Bartosz M. Kowalski, the horror flick was among the most rented titles on Netflix USA shortly after its release. You may watch it here.

16. The Ritual (2017)

Based on the novel by Adam Nevill, ‘The Ritual’ is a British horror film that tells the story of a group of college friends who reunite for a hiking trip in the forests of Sweden to honor their friend who was killed in an armed robbery. An ancient evil presence stalks them in the forest as the characters are seen staring into the darkness. Director David Bruckner leverages the landscape to build the spine-chilling experience. The film, shot in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, stars Rafe Spall (Luke), Arsher Ali (Phil), Robert James-Collier (Hutch), Sam Troughton (Dom), and Paul Reid (Robert). You can stream it here.

15. Extinction (2018)

This one’s kind of like a Noah’s Ark adaptation with a dash of extraterrestrial hauntings in it. ‘Extinction’ is the story of Peter, who is a great father and husband. He suddenly starts getting haunted by reoccurring dreams where his family dies. Everyone gets troubled by his paranoid behavior that follows his dreams.

But soon after that, the world gets attacked by alien forces that have come to invade us. Peter needs to find the strength to protect his family from these alien forces, but let me assure you that this is not your typical sci-fi invasion film about survival. It holds a big twist that makes you jump out of your seat. A must-watch for all survival sci-fi lovers, as this one holds an amazingly unique concept that has been executed almost perfectly. You can stream it here.

14. Against the Ice (2022)

Based on the non-fiction book ‘Two Against the Ice’ by Ejnar Mikkelsen and set amidst the treacherous mountain ranges of Greenland, ‘Against The Ice’ follows Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen’s efforts to retrieve the records left behind by the tragic Denmark expedition of 1906. Engineer Iver Iversen is the only person who chooses to accompany Ejnar, and the two men journey towards a cairn in northeast Greenland, which contains documents proving that the United States does not have a claim on the country. However, while a treacherous landscape and unforgiving weather make their journey to the cairn extremely challenging, the two eventually find themselves stranded on the mountainside with no rescue available for at least two whole winters. What follows is a grim account of the men’s will to survive and how they come close to losing their minds before being rescued after spending almost three years in the Arctic. You can watch the movie here.

13. Red Dot  (2021)

The first Netflix original movie from Sweden, the thriller drama centers upon a couple – Nadja and David – as they go on a camping trip to see the Northern lights. However, things don’t go as planned as consequences of the decisions made in the past start to haunt their present. The snowy landscape and remote settings highlight the sense of danger and anxiety that the couple deals with. From being shot at by various people to encountering a wild bear, Nadja and David go through a lot to ensure that they survive. You may watch the film here.

12. The Platform (2019)

This Spanish film is a dystopian thriller, originally titled ‘El Hoyo’ meaning ‘The Hole.’ A hundred-floor tall vertical prison or “Vertical Self Management Center” houses two inmates per cell, with one cell on each floor. Every day, a platform with food descends to every floor for a very brief time to provide the leftovers from the topmost floor. As one descends to a lower floor, the availability of food decreases as it depends on how much the people on the floors above them eat.

The story is told through the eyes of Goreng (Iván Massagué), who wakes up in cell number 48. Every month, the inmates change floors, and we see the shift in the characters’ personalities as they move up and down ‘The Hole.’ Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia and the writers David Desola and Pedro Rivero draw a very relatable yet haunting parallel to the current society we live in. Feel free to check out the movie here.

11. Unbroken (2014)

‘Unbroken’ is a gripping biographical war drama film directed by Angelina Jolie. Based on Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book of the same name, this film revolves around the awe-inspiring life of Louis Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell). Once an Olympian, Louie’s life takes a sharp turn during World War II when his plane crashes into the ocean. After surviving on a raft for 47 harrowing days, he and his fellow survivors are captured by the Japanese and subjected to inhumane conditions in POW camps. Miyavi plays the sadistic corporal Mutsuhiro Watanabe, who takes a particular interest in breaking Louie’s spirit. The film showcases both the torturous circumstances Louie endures and his unwavering spirit. The narrative, coupled with O’Connell’s compelling performance and Jolie’s meticulous direction, underscores the strength of the human spirit, making ‘Unbroken’ a powerful testament to resilience and redemption. You can check out the film here.

10. Army of the Dead (2021)

If you are a fan of Zack Snyder’s work, ‘Army of the Dead’ is an interesting film that you can add to your list. With an epic combination of elements from zombie flicks and heist dramas, the movie is supposedly a spiritual successor to ‘Dawn of the Dead.’ The movie follows a group of assassins-for-hire who plan to rob a casino in Las Vegas, all amidst a raging zombie apocalypse. With sharp and impressive action sequences and Snyder’s name associated with the project, the movie drew in more than 75 million viewers. You can watch ‘Army of the Dead’ here.

9. Sand Castle (2017)

Based on a true story, ‘Sand Castle’ is a war drama that tells the story of a group of soldiers who were sent to a nearby village to fix a problem with the water supply there. But the simple task of water transportation and providing plumbing and infrastructure that supports the cause becomes a struggle for survival in a brutal war zone. The movie is a raw and accurate representation of an actual war scenario without the overdramatization of self-reflection and problems of the main characters, which most war dramas do. You may watch it here.

8. The Decline (2020)

This Canadian action thriller is filmed in French and directed by Patrice Laliberte. A group of people joins a survivalist training camp to prepare for any eventuality should it occur, such as war, epidemic, or a societal breakdown. A fatal accident in the camp sends the participants into a frenzy, as they get polarized into two. The film ultimately turns into a hunting game due to the difference in opinions of the two camps that emerge due to the accident.

Alain (Réal Bossé), the organizer of the camp, does not want to deal with the legal authorities who might be accused of manslaughter or “domestic terrorism.” The fast-paced thriller keeps it real and does not take off from supernatural events or a villain with twisted motivations. The villains here are people themselves. You can stream the film here.

7. Solo (2018)

The plot of this one is very similar to that of ‘127 Hours.’ This film, too, is a true story of the survival and near-death experience of a surfer who accidentally slides down a dune and crashes into the ocean, breaking his hip and injuring his head. I believe that the people who know that they’re going to die soon start looking back and contemplating life to reflect upon all the things and people they took for granted. This is also a common stature for most “do or die” situations in films, and that’s why it feels so familiar. You can stream the movie here.

6. Cadaver (2020)

‘Cadaver’ is a Norwegian film directed by Jarand Herdal. Survival is one of the biggest themes in the film. It also makes us question: what does surviving mean to us? Could it cost us our humanity? In a city torn down by a nuclear disaster, people are barely surviving. With no food, no shelter, and no security, people preferred death over life.

Art is what keeps us sane at times like this as it provides an escape; it gives us hope. It is with this hope that a family goes to see a play called ‘The Hotel,’ which also includes a sumptuous meal as a part of the experience. This unusual play invites the participation of the audience- but no one would have thought that it would become a battle for survival. Not much of an escape from reality! You can watch the movie here.

5. How It Ends (2018)

Starring Theo James and Forest Whitaker, this one cannot be ranked as one of the best, but it’s still there on Netflix if you’re in the mood for some survival action movies and have watched almost all the others. The movie is slow and light, unlike other movies of this genre, and will not make you anxious at all. It’s just a time-killing story of a man who tries to reach home in a post-apocalyptic world so that he can be with his fiancee again. Watch this one with no high hopes and also with the sole intention of passing your time. Feel free to check it out here.

4. The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019)

Inspired by true events in the 80s, ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’ shares the story of a fake holiday destination in Arous (in Sudan) by the same name, which was a front for Israeli agents’ humanitarian mission. The Mossad agents were rescuing Ethiopian Jews held in refugee camps in Sudan by smuggling them out of the country.

Chris Evans plays the Israeli Mossad Agent Ari Levinson, while Michael. K. Williams essays the role of Kedebe Bimro, an Ethiopian Jew. Ari and Kedebe work together to evacuate the Jewish-Ethiopian refugees to Israel. Directed by Gideon Raff, the film was made with some big names on board, such as Ben Kingsley, Greg Kinnear, Alessandro Nivola, and Haley Bennett. You can stream the film here.

3. Bird Box (2018)

Bird Box’ is based on a novel by the same name, written by Josh Malerman. This post-apocalyptic thriller follows a mother, Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock), who tries to protect herself and her two children from the malevolent forces that drive people to insanity if they look at these entities. The unseen supernatural forces take the form of people’s worst fears and manipulate them into committing suicide.

The film goes back and forth between two timelines, five years apart. No survivor has ever seen these entities, but the people must stay blindfolded for their safety and survival. The story is about how Malorie completes a dangerous journey with her children to the only place that can offer them security. What is appreciated about the film is that it relies on the fear of the characters rather than the supernatural interactions. You can stream it here.

2. Awake (2021)

Directed by Mark Raso, the science-fiction thriller can easily be among the top titles on your list if you are a fan of survival dramas and thrillers. In the movie, a global phenomenon wipes out all electronics and causes people to experience severe insomnia. In the wake of the catastrophe, people become increasingly irritable, violent, and irrational. However, a former army medic and a single mother of two, Jill, may have found an answer to the problem. She believes that her young daughter may have a cure. But while humans across the globe are struggling to survive, she must keep her kids safe. You may watch ‘Awake’ here.

1. Society of the Snow (2023)

One of the most horrifying survival movies out there, that too based on a true story, ‘Society of the Snow’ is a Spanish film that shows the Uruguayan 1972 Andes flight tragedy and its aftermath. Based on Pablo Vierci’s 2009 eponymous book, the film shows the crash of Flight 571 (Uruguay to Chile) in the middle of the Andes Mountains on October 13, 1972, and the quest of the passengers to survive extreme cold and starvation while waiting for rescue, wondering if it will ever come. The film, and by extension, the tragedy, is a clear reminder of the fact that God may forgive, but Nature doesn’t. Directed by J. A. Bayona, ‘Society of the Snow’ can be watched here.

Read More: Best Zombie Movies on Netflix