End of the world movies portrays incredible possibilities of how the human race will become extinct. While the thought of the world ending evokes fear, it is also interesting to picture different scenarios. What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of our existence? Watching some of these movies will force you to find answers to life's mysteries.
The end of the world is a topic discussed by all societal groups. In religious writing, it comes in many forms, from the end times described in the Bible to the Mayan calendar's 2012 end of the world phenomenon. If indeed the world has an end, how would we know?
The playground of our imaginations has long been firmly grounded in cinema. The silver screens allow us to examine, critique, and ridicule anyone and anything without consequences.
Cinematic productions have also given us some of the most vivid depictions of how the end of the world will come. In 2020, we are oddly surrounded by natural disasters, geopolitical conflicts, and a global pandemic.
These are real-life events that are so bizarre that they read like the plot of a doomsday movie. For the curious person who needs something to binge watch, we have put together a list of the best apocalyptic movies that feel oddly relevant today.
10 best end of the world movies you should watch
The end of the world may come in one of the multiple possible forms: a global pandemic may wipe out all life on earth and perhaps a meteorite will kill us all and end life.
A famous line from Avengers: Age of Ultron says, "When the earth starts to settle, God throws a stone at it. And believe me, He's winding up!" Here are 10 apocalypse movies relevant today:
10. Bird Box (2018)
Bird Box has a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Imagine having to deal with two little kids curious about the world around them and yet they cannot see.
Like the coronavirus spread through contact, the madness in Bird Box is spread through the eyes. Any contact with your eyes and you are gone.
Sandra Bullock proves her cinematic talent is still at its peak decades into the business with a brilliant performance. Acting alongside two of the most talented child actors, Vivien Lyra Blaire and Julian Edwards, she is fantastic.
In the movie, you get a sense of what changes in the end times. For example, she is so afraid of getting attached to her children because they may die. She calls them Boy and Girl. As you watch Bird Box, you will realize it is one of the best end of the world movies 2018.
The only solution to their problem is to stay in the house. Sounds familiar? Watch Bird Box and feel the depth of similarity with the quarantine you are probably in right now.
9. Resident Evil (2002)
The Umbrella Corporation is a global conglomerate specializing in genetic research. In the course of one of their research experiments, a facility known as The Hive undergoes a catastrophe.
In one of the labs, a fault results in the release of the deadly T-Virus. Naturally, the company rushes to contain the spread of the deadly virus and seals off the facility.
The Artificial Intelligence in charge of the sealing of this facility is The Red Queen. All living creatures within the facility are dead. This seems like an efficient solution to such a bad situation.
Written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, Resident Evil is the first of six films about a zombie apocalypse that starts with a virus. The Red Queen's efforts were futile as the virus reanimates all the dead into killer zombies.
Resident Evil is based on a video game of the same name. The film is, perhaps, the most similar movie to the end of the world scenario we have now.
Despite not being near as infectious or as disastrous as T-Virus, the coronavirus pandemic also has the whole world on lockdown. Doomsday preppers are living their dreams while the rest of the world lives in fear of the end.
8. Carriers (2009)
What are you willing to do to survive? Would you risk your life to save a stranger? Will you be able to live with yourself after all you do to survive? These are the questions the end of the world will force you to think about.
The moral dilemma and internal struggles we all undergo can only get worse in the face of a pandemic.
When an unknown disease starts to spread across the country, four teens embark on a journey to a sanctuary. Similar to most people today going back to their home countries, Carriers takes us through a grueling emotional journey.
The young couple, Brian and Bobby, together with Kate and Brian's brother, Danny, are running from a pandemic.
Along the way, disaster strikes, and in the middle of the drama that unfolds, they meet another stranded traveler. The traveler, Frank, is traveling with his sick daughter, trying to get to a hospital.
Frank's daughter is infected with a strange disease. They go against their better judgment and decide to take them to a hospital.
As you would expect, a moral debate ensues as the characters each have their reservations and opinions about what they are doing. Similarly, if you dare cough or sneeze in public right now, everyone throws common sense to the wind.
Directed by Alex Pastor and David Pastor, Carriers is more than just an end of the world movie. It is also an examination of society's moral fabric in the face of disaster.
7. World War Z (2013)
Imagine the noise, hustle, and crowds on a busy city street on any given day of the week: hooting everywhere, people on the phone, motorcycles, bicycles, and loud music everywhere.
World War Z starts with Brad Pitt sitting in busy Philadelphia traffic with his family. The streets are quickly overrun by a swarm of zombies animated by a deadly virus of unknown origin. They are attracted to sound.
Brad Pitt plays a former UN employee Gerry Lane who is thrust into the center of the effort in search of a cure for the virus. Unlike our current situation, the source of the viral pandemic is unknown.
However, one city, Jerusalem, had built a wall around itself before the world acknowledged the epidemic. You are aware of the strict lockdown Wuhan enforced as soon as the pandemic began, right?
Gerry Lane goes to Jerusalem to find out what wisdom informed their efforts very early on. There, he encounters a city of people living a confined life. Unable to leave and having no escape, they are trapped in the city.
In the face of a pandemic and under tense action-filled sequences, Brad Pitt delivers a thrilling performance, mimicking the brave action of doctors and health workers risking their lives to save ours in these times.
World War Z was written by Matthew Michael Carnahan and directed by Marc Forster.
6. 2012 (2009)
Mayanism detailed out a sequence of events that happen at the end of the world. In their ancient calendar, these events took place in the year 2012.
To start, all the planets align in a way never seen before. This triggers a solar flare so massive it causes the earth's tectonic plates to act up.
What follows is a cinematic achievement at a scale hitherto undreamt of. The world crumbles in on itself as volcanoes erupt and earthquakes rock entire seaboards.
No one is safe. The story follows author Jackson Curtis and geologist Adrian Helmsley as they figure out how to survive.
2012 shines a bright light on the privilege the rich enjoy even in a disaster. We get to learn of a plot to save only the world's wealthiest individuals and their families. A twist of fate and karma will have you smiling gleefully at their misfortunes.
2012 was released in 2009 and went on to become the 5th highest-grossing film that year. The film made an incredible amount of over $791 million at the box office.
Written and directed by Roland Emmerich, it matches the slew of disasters around the world right now. Locusts in East Africa, Earthquakes in Russia, and fires in the Amazon all point to catastrophic world-changing events.
2012 remains to be one of the best end of the world movies that feels oddly relevant today.
5. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
At the start of February this year, the entire world was pregnant with expectation. News of an American and Iranian conflict escalating had the made the prospect of a violent conflict very real.
As the two countries are thousands of miles apart, it was bound to end up affecting the allies of each nation by proxy. Luckily, the global nuclear war was evaded. However, we got to see a glimpse of how the world would react to war.
Dr. Strangelove is a view of the reactions of top military generals at the height of the cold war. The situation rooms were filled with uniquely qualified individuals whose true nature manifests in what they feel about war.
The film is a dark comedy that seeks to use humor to show us the ineptitude of society to function cohesively in chaotic times. Dr. Strangelove is a character that is loving every minute of the prospect of war, and yet he is among those supposed to prepare his country for it.
Dr. Strangelove was released in 1964 during the cold war. The reactions of generals and politicians then are very similar to their reactions now.
In attempts to pacify the public, mistakes are made continuously, and perceptions skewed even further. Does any of this sound familiar?
Dr. Strangelove is one of the best apocalyptic end of the world movies.
4. Armageddon (1998)
22 years ago, Bruce Willis led a team of professional oil rig mineworkers on a daring mission to save the earth. Their purpose: to intercept an asteroid hurtling toward the earth and prevent a guaranteed extinction-level event.
In typical Michael Bay fashion, Armageddon is filled with mind-bending physics and tons of orchestra soundtrack music.
The movie mirrors a very real possibility that astronomers have to be on the lookout for every day. End of the world movies draw inspiration from the world around us.
Every day, tons of meteorites enter the earth's atmosphere and burn up before impact. However, there is a very real possibility that a large asteroid may one day be on a collision course with earth.
Early March this year, there were continued reports of such asteroids by NASA scientists. Armageddon raises many vital questions in a way that only end of the world movies can.
Would you sacrifice your life for the good of all humanity? What about your loved ones' feelings and lives after your sacrifice?
More than two decades later, this movie appears to have a place in history. The solution it proposes for this problem is something the world may need today, tomorrow or decades down the line.
3. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis team up for this brilliant award-winning performance. 12 Monkeys is a story through time that chases a former prisoner and now the savior of the world, James Cole, played by Brad Pitt.
Cole is sent back in time to stop the start of a deadly viral pandemic that wiped out all of humanity. The unknown virus spread in the 90s and wiped out nearly all of humanity.
The rest of the human population is forced underground to stay alive. Almost three decades later, scientists identify the potential culprits for the cataclysmic event.
A group of anarchists known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys is associated with the origins of the virus. The viral pandemic is similar to our current situation.
12 Monkeys offers a sobering look at a world cleared by a virus. There is no life on land, food is scarce, and societal order is destroyed.
12 Monkeys remains one of the greatest end of the world movies on Netflix to date. End of the world movies like this one serve as an excellent deterrent to stay indoors and not break quarantine.
2. I Am Legend (2007)
Apocalyptic movies like I Am Legend are grounded in real human emotions encountered with the outbreak of a pandemic. A deadly virus breaks out, causing the mutation of humans into bloodthirsty creatures that are burnt in sunlight.
A lone scientist, played by Will Smith, is naturally immune and outlives everyone in his city. What follows are years alone with his dog and no one else.
Living in a house full of barriers only moving at night, he lives a very lonely life. This is until he meets a young family.
Directed by Francis Lawrence, I Am Legend awakens you to the reality of a solo life. Thinking about it makes you wonder whether surviving an apocalypse is worth the fight.
It is an emotional thriller packed with intense action and unparalleled acting by Will Smith. I Am Legend is one of the best apocalypse movies you will ever watch.
1. Contagion (2011)
What is the best end of the world movie? Contagion takes the number one spot on our list of greatest end of the world films.
Perhaps the most relevant film to our current circumstances today is Contagion. Released in 2011, the movie examines our preparedness for an epidemic.
A deadly virus outbreak of unknown origin exposes the glaring gaps in systematic policies for dealing with this specific event. Gwyneth Paltrow puts on quite the show in a fatal role ending in her death due to the virus.
In the film, Soderbergh offers an unfiltered look at the process of identifying an outbreak. He takes you on a ride in search of a cure and how its spread can be stemmed; an all too familiar story in the world we live in.
Contagion will break your heart and scare you in equal proportion. It is a cinematic achievement whose success and futuristic vision are more relevant today than ever.
Stephen King and Steven Soderbergh have all written about viral catastrophes. A distinguishing factor is the medical realism of Soderbergh's story that makes it very cold, cruel, and bone-chillingly real.
These qualities make Contagion the most relevant of the end of the world movies to watch during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In the face of war, viral outbreaks, and natural disasters of high fatalities, human resilience has remained steadfast.
These 10 end of the world movies are a reminder of our strength in numbers. We see the ability to sacrifice and willingness to put our interests aside for the greater good. At a time when we are all called to play a part in stopping the pandemic, a little inspiration goes a long way.