Deepwater Horizon: 10 Similar Disaster Movies You Can’t Miss

Directed by Peter Berg, ‘Deepwater Horizon’ narrates the true story of an offshore drilling rig’s catastrophic explosion, which left its workers stranded on a platform engulfed in flame and led to the worst oil spill in American history. Mike Williams is the chief electrical engineer at the largest offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Mike and the general operational supervisor are concerned about the site’s structural flaws and protest against its activation.

Frustrated with delays, the executives reduce safety tests, and operations begin on the platform. Unable to bear the pressure in its systems, the entire oil rig is torn apart by a massive blowout. Surrounded by flames and a structure that is falling apart, Mike takes charge of saving as many people as he possibly can. Highlighted by its powerful performances and intensely thrilling disaster sequences, the 2016 film may leave one wanting more of movies like ‘Deepwater Horizon.’

10. Dante’s Peak (1997)

With director Roger Donaldson at the helm, ‘Dante’s Peak’ follows a volcanologist named Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan), who is tasked with investigating unusual volcanic activity in the peaceful town of Dante’s Peak. Harry discovers alarming signs of an impending eruption that could spell disaster for the entire community. He and Mayor Rachel Wando raise the alarm for evacuation, but the many in the town overturn their efforts in favor of their continued economic gain. When the volcano erupts, its tectonic explosion sends debris and fire spewing onto the town.

As Harry races against nature’s fury to save as many lives as possible, fans of ‘Deepwater Horizon’ will find multiple parallels between the films’ catastrophes. In both cases, the capable protagonists’ warnings fall on deaf ears, and greed leads to an avertable disaster and loss of life. ‘Dante’s Peak’ is a disaster film to its core, reveling in its scale of destruction and making full use of its unique settings.

9. K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

Under the direction of Kathryn Bigelow, ‘K-19: The Widowmaker’ transports us to the height of the Cold War in 1961, where we follow a crew of the USSR’s first ballistic nuclear submarine under the command of Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford). Due to its rushed manufacturing, the vessel encounters defects, which leads to its nuclear core being compromised. Vostrikov has to grapple with an increasingly panicking crew, possible radiation leaks, and a nuclear meltdown which may lead to a world-ending conflict between the superpowers. Like ‘Deepwater Horizon’ the film is based on a true story and features pulse-pounding situations of disaster management. As a bonus, there is a tense subplot of a possible mutiny and the high stakes of a global nuclear war.

8. Pandora (2016)

Also known as ‘Pan-dola,’ the South Korean film revolves around a nuclear power plant that has substandard security and maintenance measures in place, despite its workers’ complaints to the government. When an earthquake hits the small town where the plant is located, it erupts in a massive explosion, causing nationwide panic about a nuclear meltdown. To prevent such a catastrophe, two brave workers re-enter the facility. Co-directed by Jeong-woo Park and Jong-woo Park, the film seems to take inspiration from the Fukushima nuclear accident and presents a compelling narrative combined with impactful visual effects. Similar to ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ it explores themes of heroism and sacrifice, serving as a cautionary tale against bureaucratic mismanagement.

7. Twister (1996)

Twister’ introduces us to a storm-chasing, estranged couple, Jo and Bill, as they reunite to chase tornadoes across the Midwest. The two seek to prevent tornado-related deaths using a prototype early warning system. However, they must reach the heart of a tornado to get the needed data for the device to begin functioning. As they face rival storm chasers and the most powerful tornado they have ever encountered, the film takes us on a riveting, fast-paced adventure filled with rural destruction. Directed by Jan de Bont, ‘Twister’ is a classic disaster film that will likely appeal to fans of ‘Deepwater Horizon’ with its brilliant special effects and a raw portrayal of nature’s devastating power.

6. The Wave (2010)

Under the directorial vision of Roar Uthaug, ‘The Wave’ is a Norwegian film that follows geologist Kristian Eikjord as he begins to notice strange geological activities in the mountain pass Åkneset, located over a small town. Realizing the implications of a possible collapse, he raises the alarm and attempts to flee the area with his family. However, just as they are navigating a jammed road out of town, Åkneset crumbles and gives way to a colossal tidal wave 80 meters high, which begins to crush everything in its path.

Originally titled ‘Bølgen,’ the film will draw in enthusiasts of disaster movies like ‘Deepwater Horizon’ with its suspenseful buildup and subsequently deliver a masterfully executed disaster sequence. Similar to Peter Berg’s work, Uthaug spends just enough time setting up its scenario and characters to invest us in their story before plunging them into unimaginable turmoil.

5. Patriots Day (2016)

‘Patriots Day’ chronicles the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent manhunt for the perpetrators. Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) and his fellow police officers administer aid to the wounded and join FBI forces on the hunt for the Tsarnaev brothers. The film follows the lives of various individuals impacted by the tragedy, including survivors, first responders, and the terrorists themselves. Directed by Peter Berg, the film features a stellar performance by Mark Wahlberg. Those who enjoyed both creatives’ work in ‘Deepwater Horizon’ will undoubtedly be gripped by the film’s portrayal of resilience, heroism, and solidarity.

4. The Burning Sea (2021)

Directed by John Andreas Andersen, ‘The Burning Sea’ centers on a group of researchers working on an offshore oil platform that has been tapping into rich oil and gas reserves for nearly five decades. When the exploitation causes a crack on the ocean floor, a rig collapses, and a submarine dives to search for survivors. The crack was just a prelude to a much larger calamity that causes a gas explosion, seemingly setting the ocean ablaze.

Often called the Norwegian version of ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ ‘The Burning Sea’ sets itself apart with compelling underlying narratives and themes while featuring catastrophic visuals on an awe-inspiring scale. The submarine sequences build up trepidation, and the climax has an enormous ship pulled into the ocean and near escapes of all-encompassing devastation.

3. Everest (2015)

With Baltasar Kormákur at the helm, ‘Everest’ presents a harrowing account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. The film follows two expedition groups led by Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, who aim to reach the summit of Everest. As they ascend, they encounter treacherous weather conditions. On the way back down, the teams are hit by one of the fiercest blizzards of all time. Struggling against battering winds, freezing temperatures, and oxygen deprivation while traversing steep, cavernous terrain, the climbers desperately fight for their lives. Featuring an ensemble cast, powerhouse performances, and breathtaking cinematography, the true story movie will surely captivate fans of ‘Deepwater Horizon.’

2. The Perfect Storm (2000)

With Wolfgang Petersen in the director’s chair, ‘The Perfect Storm’ follows a fishing boat crew caught in the midst of a catastrophic storm in the North Atlantic. Led by Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney), the crew embarks on a fishing expedition off the coast of Massachusetts, hoping for a lucrative haul. However, they soon find themselves facing an unprecedented confluence of weather phenomena, including a hurricane and humongous waves. Like ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ ‘The Perfect Storm’ is a disaster film set at sea, based on a true story, and featuring a great performance by Mark Wahlberg. Petersen creates an intense atmosphere of constant dread, which manages to truly immerse us in the setting of a monstrous storm.

1. The Impossible (2012)

Under the direction of J.A. Bayona, ‘The Impossible,’ or ‘Lo imposible,’ retells the true events of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami from the perspective of a family of Spanish tourists caught in the disaster. The Bennetts, a family of four vacationing in Thailand, find themselves helplessly engulfed by a catastrophic tidal wave rampaging through their resort. Against all odds, the family members survive but are swept away to isolated parts of the devastated landscape.

Clinging to hope amidst the wreckage, they fight against insurmountable odds to reunite amidst the chaos. The film is elevated by its ensemble cast’s spectacular performances, hair-raising cinematography, and gripping story of survival and hope. Comparable to ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ the scenarios in ‘The Impossible’ seem bleak, desperate, and hopeless. The characters nevertheless fight through them, crafting timeless tales of human resilience.

Read More: Best Disaster Movies on Netflix