‘Contagion’ is perhaps one of the few movies which is widely renowned for its scientific accuracy, its signature hyperlink style of filmmaking (all thanks to Soderbergh), the ensemble cast (with some names like Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Lawrence Fishburne etc), its watertight script and the extremely complex yet coherent storytelling. A movie premised on the spread of a deadly virus, later known as the MEV-1 which is transmitted from Bats to Pigs and then to humans, its transition right from patient zero to wiping away millions until they figure out the cure, ‘Contagion’ is the ideal example of movies which are based out on the spread of deadly epidemic diseases like wildfires, thus turning mankind towards an apocalypse-like situation.
Speaking of movies which have been made on a similar premise, we have had quite a good number of flicks which base their story on a virus that has already killed millions of people or is in the process (e.g. a potential zombie apocalypse, one human at a time), a dirty bomb or a meteor or an alien ship that could release a bioweapon (e.g. an uncurable, deadly virus) and thus proves to be a potent means of mass-murder, a well-planned scandal (e.g. graduated release of toxic gas or a chemical over a period of time) that qualifies as a mass killing, or a disease which would diminish the human populace to an extent from where there’s no turning back. In this list, we bring you such movies which have a calculable resemblance with ‘Contagion’ in terms of its technical aspects or its proposition. Here goes the list of movies similar to ‘Contagion’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like Contagion on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
12. Inferno (2016)
Not a medical-thriller per se, but the ultimate goal of the antagonist Bertrand Zobrist in ‘Inferno’ is to tackle the population explosion by introducing a deadly virus which has a potential to eliminate a large chunk of the world’s populace, thus indicating a metaphorical ‘Inferno’ by hinting at a possible apocalypse, should the virus spreads out. The only reason to watch this movie for me was to see Tom Hanks and Irrfan Khan in the same frame, which I did, and also the impeccable portrayal of Dr. Robert Langdon by Tom Hanks which seemingly gets better with each Dan Brown’s book adaptation.
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11. Resident Evil (2002)
A film belonging to the fantasy-thriller genre, ‘Resident Evil’ starts with a virus (known as “T-Virus”) outbreak from a top-secret research facility called The Hive in Raccoon City. Despite the efforts to contain the virus by The Red Queen, the T-Virus spreads and infects humans, thus transforming them into zombies. The virus also supposedly infects animals and enrages them. The resultant is a chaos in and around the city with Alice, the protagonist, coming to the rescue. Predictable yet effective, ‘Resident Evil’ hits all the right notes, at least in the first installment.
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10 The Crazies (2010)
The crazy story of a virus called “Trixie”, which has contaminated the drinking water in a town called Ogden Marsh, thus leading the victims to go insane and turn into vile killers, ‘The Crazies’ is as trippy as it sounds. The winner in this remake of the movie of the same name is the fact that the storyline and the character development is minimalistic and the focus is more on how the script has been executed. An increasingly refreshing movie for Sci-Fi thriller fans.
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9. [•REC] (2007)
As the name suggests, the movie follows through a camera recording by Angela and Pablo, who are shooting for a documentary on the nightlife. A classic example of an experiment gone haywire, with a slight religious angle to the whole plot, ‘Rec’ describes their nightmarish experiences following a rescue call to the fire department from a woman who’s been trapped in an apartment. Angela and Pablo find themselves engulfed in a deluge of zombies in the apartment, who have appeared out of nowhere, all thanks to a possessed girl who was infected with a virulent strain of the virus. Horrifying to the core and deeply disturbing, the plot is more inclined towards the horror part of it rather than a zombie outbreak. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
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8. 28 Days Later (2002)
A Danny Boyle’s flick, ’28 Days Later’ depicts the aftermath of a virus outbreak from an infected chimp that is released inadvertently into the city, followed by a widespread zombie outbreak and population wipeout. Everyone is dead except for four survivors, who run from pillar to post despite having limited resources to ensure their survival. A plucky and no-nonsense film, the main events of the movie have been depicted within a gap of 28 days, possibly indicating the incubation period of the deadly virus.
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7. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Surprised? Yeah, me too. Based on a real person and the account of her fight against the system, ‘Erin Brockovich’ is yet another movie the primary focus of which rests upon its female lead, rather than the outbreak of a disease, and the cases undertaken by her in a legal battle against the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. The premise is that the groundwater in the vicinity of a residential area in Hinkley has been constantly contaminated over the years with carcinogenic chromium and Erin fights her legal battle against the company based on the petition of more than 600 plaintiffs to make the company pay for its proxy atrocities. Pathbreaking and empowering, ‘Erin Brockovich’ is portrayed as a strong, independent yet considerate woman who seeks justice and a fair compensation for all of the company’s misdeeds.
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6. The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The father of all movies on modern virus outbreaks and the medicinal advancements, ‘The Andromeda Strain’ was released at a time when leading world powers were still mulling the use of chemical and biological weaponry. The movie starts with the outbreak of an alien pathogen that is brought upon earth by one of the Government’s satellites. The pathogen called Andromeda, though is exceedingly potent, cannot survive in acidic conditions, which ultimately leads to its elimination by cloud seeding and inducing artificial (acidic) rains. A novel, thought-provoking and engaging effort, ‘The Andromeda Strain’ was perhaps a pioneering venture in this now-thriving sub-genre.
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5. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
Following the events of ’28 Days Later’ in a post-apocalyptic London, 28 weeks after the said outbreak, the movie follows the events that occur in a NATO camp which is in a quarantined zone. A couple of kids elope from the safe zone and go to their former residence in the infested areas looking for their mother Alice. Once Alice is brought back, she is revealed to be still carrying the pathogen, however, it didn’t affect her due to its dormant state. The story progresses with the spread of the disease within the safe zone and the chaos that follows, all thanks to a kiss.
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4. I Am Legend (2007)
The heartbreaking tale of a man and his dog seemingly stuck forever alone in a world now filled with zombies, this post-apocalyptic drama deserves a standing applause. The virus, that spread inadvertently, for it was supposed to be a cure, has now eliminated all living beings or turned everyone into the living dead except for Lt. Col. Robert Neville, who is apparently immune to the said virus. Saddening and yet heartwarming tale of Robert Neville’s redemption, his relentless efforts to look for humans living in other parts of the world and his efforts in finding the cure makes ‘I Am Legend’ truly exceptional from all the facets. Perhaps the best of all the zombie flicks out there.
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3. World War Z (2013)
Another glamorous movie in this sub-genre, with Brad Pitt at the helm, ‘World War Z’ has to be one of the most widely popular disease-outbreak movies ever made. The story starts with a veteran UN employee Gerry Lane negotiating traffic while driving with his family when a sudden zombie outbreak happens, which then starts spreading like frenzy. The story progresses with Gerry trying to save his family from zombies at first, followed by him visiting various countries in order to get to the bottom of the cause that led to a potential worldwide zombie apocalypse. The movie ends with him finding the cure by being “invisible” to the zombies in general, i.e. by injecting the non-infected populace with a deadly but curable strain of the virus. Nail-biting, with some stunning visuals, engrossing action-sequences, and superb performances, ‘World War Z’ is among one of the best movies made on the zombie apocalypse and disease outbreak.
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2. Outbreak (1995)
‘Outbreak’ made all the disease outbreak movies glamorous by injecting some scientific facts, showcasing real-life incidents and their impact on a larger scale and also the damage-control part of it, which was shown with a far more prudence. As the story goes, the movie features an exotic monkey which is the carrier of a deadly virus, which has been smuggled by a man who tries to sell it on the black market. One thing leads to another and the virus spreads within a local Californian town. The entire story then backtracks to the 60s when the US Military had tried to use a deadly virus as a bioweapon by testing it on the local population, which might have infected the monkeys as well during that time. A decent watch, with the requisite twists and turns, ‘Outbreak’ is certainly one of the forefathers of ‘Contagion’.
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1. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
With actors like Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer at the helm and an IMDB rating of 8.0 with more than 500k votes, ‘Twelve Monkeys’ boasts of terrific performances, ensemble cast, and a flawless plot. Set in the distant post-apocalyptic future in 2035, a prisoner named James Cole is selected for being sent back to 1996, when the virus outbreak apparently occurred, caused by a group called the Army of Twelve Monkeys. Mistakenly, Cole is sent back to 1990 wherein he’s sent to an asylum where he meets a lunatic named Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the son of a leading expert on virology. Replete with multiple time loops, altered reality, uncontrollable advancements in technology and lunatics that are central to the premise, ‘Twelve Monkeys’ is mind-boggling, a potential game-changer and writes a new chapter in filmmaking.
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