Disaster movies are ones with depictions of large-scale destruction– either natural or otherwise. Of late, filmmakers are resorting mostly to alien invasion stories, zombie attacks, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, or space catastrophes. But one could argue that even war movies can be classified as the above, given the mass eradication of resources, both animate and inanimate, that are inherent in such productions.
While mother nature can be truly beautiful and inspiring, it can also be extremely terrifying. From hurricanes to avalanches, the world is constantly threatened by various calamities. Man-made disasters are equally rampant these days, given the mass destruction of the planet that is being carried out. Moreover, the possibility of these events eventually leading to the end of the human race as we know it is no longer negligible. Keeping all this in mind, here’s a list of really good disaster movies streaming on Netflix right now.
20. Army of The Dead (2021)
Spearheaded by popular director Zack Snyder, ‘Army of The Dead’ opens on a terrifying note as a biologically modified zombie escapes captivity and soon overrides the city of Las Vegas with a zombie army. Although the military blocks off the city with colossal packing containers, the plague spreads like wildfire, and soon, every living human in Las Vegas turns into bloodthirsty undead. In such a setting, casino owner Bly Tanaka recruits former mercenary Scott Ward, tasking him with recovering $200 million from a vault inside Las Vegas before the army bombs the city to the ground. Scott then puts together a heist team and undertakes the seemingly impossible mission of infiltrating the zombie city. From here on, the movie plays like an out-and-out action flick with giant explosions, massive battles, backstabbing, and heroics, all bundled into one single, thoroughly enjoyable package.
19. The Silence (2019)
When an unidentified species (that recognizes its prey by sound) invades Earth, the Andrews family embarks on a mission to protect their 13-year-old, Ally, who had lost her sense of sound in an accident years before. But when a tongue-less cult wants to take advantage of the teenager’s situation, the family stops at nothing to protect her. The horror film, directed by John R. Leonetti, stars Kiernan Shipka, Stanley Tucci, Miranda Otto, and John Corbett. The premise may remind you a bit of ‘The Quiet Place,’ but we recommend this movie (despite an already familiar story) for the performances.
18. 3022 (2019)
This science fiction film actually takes the apocalypse to the next level— all of Earth is destroyed and a few astronauts watch the event unfold from a space station. Set in the future, it stars Omar Epps, Kate Walsh, Miranda Cosgrove, and Angus Macfadyen. Even though it chronicles the many struggles that the group faces in the aftermath of the crisis, it is not the same old survival story that is rampant in the genre. With a good cast and an intriguing premise, this is one film that you can watch when you’re in the mood for a disaster movie.
17. Beyond Skyline (2017)
‘Beyond Skyline’ is a sequel to ‘Skyline’. This film opens amid an alien invasion when LAPD Detective, Mark Corley, is vying for the release of his son from jail. As the invasion starts, people are sucked into various spaceships one at a time. Mark, along with a group of survivors, is meandering in the subway tunnels across the city to protect people. But they eventually land inside the alien spaceship and Mark discovers that they’re being converted into bio-mechanical soldiers for a greater cause. Although ‘Beyond Skyline’ may not promise the edge-of-the-seat thrill as many other invasion movies do, it still is way better than its predecessor in terms of its narrative.
16. Poseidon (2006)
Based on the book ‘The Poseidon Adventures’ by Paul Gallico, this film failed to impress both the critics and the audience alike. Starring actors like Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, the story of ‘Poseidon’ centers around the eponymous luxury cruiser ship which is struck by a massive wave on New Year’s Eve when a gala has just begun on it. The water causes the ship to flip, and it slowly starts sinking. The passengers now have to get out of there as fast as possible if they wish to avoid certain death.
‘Poseidon’ is among the few films to have received both a Razzie and an Oscar nomination. The screenplay of the film does lack a certain vigor but it must be said that ‘Poseidon’ works rather well when it comes to scenes with special effects. The use of CGI is spectacular considering the time in which it was made.
15. #Alive (2020)
Ever since the now Oscar-winning ‘Parasite’ graced the international movie circuit, Korean filmmakers have been given a new audience that can appreciate their work. This globalization has also introduced ‘#Alive,’ which is essentially the story of a video gamer’s survival in his apartment in Seoul when a zombie apocalypse wreaks havoc on the city. It stars Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-Hye and is directed by Cho Il-Hyung. If you want to watch something that resonates with you and the current pandemic, then this movie could be a great fit, seeing as the protagonist is also in isolation.
14. Spectral (2016)
‘Spectral’ opens amid an ongoing war wherein the troops have been using hyperspectral goggles, allowing them to see what is invisible to the naked eye. A translucent humanoid figure that they spot is able to kill with just a touch, thus posing a newer challenge for the soldiers. CIA officer, Fran Madison, and DARPA scientist, Clyne, then set their troops out with hyperspectral imaging cameras to track down these “invisible” and invincible insurgents. They later find out that the agitators cannot see through ceramic and are vulnerable to iron nails, thus giving the human troops an added advantage. ‘Spectral’ is an audacious attempt to match those big-budget thrillers, but it somewhat lags behind in its overall execution. Still, it is one of the best movies on this list.
13. Pandora (2016)
Pyung-Sub is worried about the conditions of the local nuclear power plant, but no one seems to listen to him. However, when an earthquake strikes, it severely damages the plant and begins to spread panic. Now, young Jae-Hyeok and his colleagues must prevent another nuclear disaster. ‘Pandora’ is not only a thrilling movie but also an emotional one, thanks to the script. With good visual effects and decent cinematography, director Jong-woo Park is able to deliver a tear-jerking story with a touch of reality.
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12. Extinction (2018)
‘Extinction’ is Netflix’s contribution to the doomsday genre. The movie opens in the near future, where an engineer named Peter is having nightmares about an alien invasion that could lead to the destruction of life. Upon his visit to a psychiatrist, he finds that other people are also having similar visions. After spaceships arrive and cause substantial damage to the city, Peter and his family seek shelter amid enemy alien soldiers on the prowl. It is later revealed that Alice, Peter’s wife, is an AI humanoid, and the only way to save her is with the help of an unexpected power source: Peter himself. He too is an AI known as synths. Turns out, synths had their memories wiped off and have been residing on the planet as people ever since the human rebellion against the AI. ‘Extinction’ is good in parts, and I personally watched it only for Michael Pena. What about you?
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11. The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ aimed at capitalizing its extremely successful ‘Cloverfield’ franchise. However, it doesn’t compare to its predecessors despite promising twists and a somewhat compelling story. It begins with a group of astronauts who are on board a space station in 2028 as Earth is undergoing a global energy crisis. In desperate attempts to test the Shepherd particle accelerator aboard the Cloverfield station, a disaster strikes and leads to a paradox. This implies that the existence of a parallel universe may pose a looming danger to the world as we know it.
10. ARQ (2016)
If and when natural gas and fossil fuels finally get depleted, it would be nothing short of a life-threatening disaster for humans. This is exactly the premise of ‘ARQ,’ directed by Tony Elliott. Giant corporations are now fighting against governments for the last remaining oil supplies. The solution to the energy crisis is with one man, an engineer called Renton, who has a machine that can be the source of unlimited energy. We find Renton trapped inside a house along with the machine as many masked assailants are closing in on the location.
There is another major problem that is plaguing Renton- the machine that is with him has created a time loop, and so, he has to relive the same day over and over again. A disaster film within the tropes of a surreal thriller, ‘ARQ’ hits the notes in the right places. It wraps up the loose ends neatly and becomes a complete entertainer.
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9. Bird Box (2018)
‘Bird Box’ is perhaps one of the most successful Netflix releases, owing to the fact that it resembles the likes of ‘World War Z’ (or any apocalypse movie for that matter). The film begins with a pregnant Malorie and her sister who are heading out to the hospital amid news of people killing themselves following an epidemic. While driving back home, Malorie’s sister “sees” something, thus killing herself as well. The spread of the epidemic is rampant, with hundreds committing suicide. Malorie then takes shelter in a nearby home which also houses many others.
Five years later, after a fallout, Malorie, along with her son, the daughter of another woman, and Tom (a man she had met) is learning to live again with the help of a blindfold. They all do chores in this manner so that they don’t end up killing themselves. However, when insurgents hit and Tom suicides, Malorie and the kids head out on a journey down the river to a safer place. As they reach there, they find that all the others in the area are blind, thus making them survivors. ‘Bird Box’ boasts of a powerful performance from Sandra Bullock, along with a thrilling narrative that keeps you hooked on to the screen.
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8. Rim Of The World (2019)
A Netflix original film directed by McG, ‘Rim Of The World’ has clear ‘Stranger Things‘ vibes in its story and production values. It follows the aesthetics of the 1980s films about children’s adventures and gets its name from a summer camp (in the story) that is happening in Southern California.
Three young boys, Zhenzhen, Alex, and Dariush, and a juvenile delinquent called Gabriel are the protagonists of the movie. While deep inside the jungle, they suddenly notice that army fighter planes are busy battling the invading alien ships in the sky. A pod from the International Space Station lands nearby, and from it emerges a woman who hands Alex a key. She tells him that it is with this key that the alien army can be destroyed. It supposedly activates a defense project known as the Excalibur. With no adults to help them and very little time on hand, the four youngsters embark on an adventure rife with numerous difficulties along the way.
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7. How It Ends (2018)
David M. Rosenthal is the director of this Netflix original film starring Theo James, Kat Graham, and Forest Whittaker. James and Graham play a couple, Will and Samantha, who plan on getting married after Sam gets pregnant. He decides to travel to Chicago and asks for Sam’s father’s permission first. When Will is about to return from his visit, the news announces that all flights have been canceled because mysterious occurrences have been detected in the sky. In such a state, Will and Tom (Sam’s father) decide to travel together to Seattle so as to not leave Sam alone in such a perilous time. The weather discrepancies are mainly the aftereffects of an apocalyptic phenomenon that has hit the world. In such a dangerous time, the journey of two men for the girl they both love is the central narrative of the film.
Though the plot looks interesting on paper, the way it is executed leaves a lot to be desired. There is nothing unexpected that happens in this film’s plot or character-wise. If a disaster film is based on two characters’ journey, they at least have to be written in such a fashion that it evokes some sort of empathy from the audience. Still, it makes for a good one-time watch!
6. Io (2019)
Margaret Qualley did come to the limelight after her role in Quentin Tarantino‘s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood‘, but do you know she has been the star of a Netflix production as well? The science fiction film ‘Io’ sees Qualley playing the role of Sam Welden, a scientist who continues to live on the earth long after it has been rendered uninhabitable. Most of humanity has evacuated the planet and has settled down on a moon of Jupiter called Io. Welden, however, is determined to come up with a plan to make Earth liveable once again. She sends out a radio transmission and is soon visited by a man called Micah (Anthony Mackie). He, however, is of the opinion that all hope is lost and so, he also plans to leave as soon as possible.
The film’s premise is rather interesting, but a lot more could have been depicted when it comes to the condition of the Earth after the apocalypse. There are some inconsistencies in the script, but it cannot be denied that Qualley and Mackie have both put on impressive performances in the movie.
5. 22 July (2018)
Based on the book titled ‘One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway— and Its Aftermath’ by journalist Åsne Seierstad, ’22 July’ takes a look at the very real terrorist attacks that occurred in Norway in 2011. The explosions that shook Oslo also took at least 80 lives, including those of teenagers who were present at the summer camp hosted by the Labor Party. A white nationalist held culpable for the gut-wrenching mass murders. Albeit dramatized, ’22 July’ revisits the horrifying events of that day, and it is because of these true crime roots that we suggest watching this film.
4. Chernobyl 1986 (2021)
Chernobyl 1986, also known as Chernobyl: Abyss, is a Russian film that documents the terrifying Chernobyl disaster of 1986 while following how the event affects life among local residents. The movie revolves around firefighter Alexey Karpushin and his former lover, Olga Savostina. Unknown to Alexey, Olga gave birth while he was away, and now the pair are parents to a 10-year-old. Although romance initially blooms, Olga tries to cut Alexey out of her life when he fails to turn up at a picnic. Disappointed, the firefighter chooses to leave town and begin a new life in Keiv. However, he is about to leave when disaster strikes, and Alexey involves himself in rescue operations. The rest of the movie follows the firefighter as he fills an essential role in clean-up operations, all the while using his leverage to try and bargain a better life for his family. With the movie showcasing an authentic and direct effect of the Chernobyl disaster, it classifies as a must-watch.
3. The Midnight Sky (2020)
The Midnight Sky brings to life a reality where an unknown disaster kills off most of the world’s population and contaminates the surface with ionizing radiation. In such a time when scientific research is directed towards finding other planets to inhabit, ‘The Midnight Sky’ focuses on academic Augustine Lofthouse, the one and only person alive on a massive Arctic base. Although his failing health brings a sense of impending doom, Lofthouse soon remembers how the crew of spaceship Aether will be returning to earth shortly. The crew has no idea about the disaster on earth and believes that they lost connection due to damaged equipment. Thus, it falls upon Lofthouse to warn the crew and, in turn, save human lives. The haunting yet beautiful apocalypse presented in the film makes it one of the best disaster movies of this generation.
2. 7:19 (2016)
‘7:19’ is a Mexican disaster film that offers an eye-opening and authentic view of the terrifying 1985 Mexico City earthquake. Although the film focuses on the citizens affected by the disaster and documents their efforts to escape, it primarily revolves around a group of office colleagues who get stuck inside their collapsing building. Watching the city turn into rubble around them, the group reflects on their own lives and tries their best to keep spirits alive. However, the disaster keeps claiming one life after the other, making viewers wonder if any of these people will get to see their families again.
1. Don’t Look Up (2021)
‘Don’t Look Up’ stars stalwarts Leonardo Di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence, among others, in a thrilling, nail-biting movie that will keep one glued till the end. Revolving around low-level astronomers Kate Dibiasky and Dr. Randall Mindy, the film showcases how they suddenly discover a rapidly approaching comet that is set to destroy the earth. Unsurprisingly, they are initially met with disbelief and then indifference as the world refuses to listen to someone without rank or status. The film then follows the duo as they undertake a massive media tour hoping to find someone who will take them seriously and save humankind.
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