Pandemic movies have something for everyone: the genre includes medical thrillers, science fiction, and dramatic EOTW (End of the World) flicks. That “this could actually happen”—or has already happened—feeling lends a thrill you can’t find anywhere else, so here are some of the best pandemic movies you can stream right now.
- Contagion (2011)
- Outbreak (1995)
- The Andromeda Strain (1971)
- 12 Monkeys (1995)
- Carriers (2009)
- 93 Days (2019)
- Virus (2019)
- Flu (2013)
- The Last Days (2013)
- Panic in the Streets (1950)
Cast: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law
Genre: Pandemic, medical thriller, EOTW
One of the most realistic virus movies, Contagion is not just eerily real: it also features big stars and a great script. It starts out in Chicago where Beth (Paltrow) has sex with an old flame before heading home to Minneapolis. Unknowingly, she picks up the virus on a previous trip in Hong Kong, passes it to the Chicago lover, then spreads it to her family before her death.
Meanwhile, the CDC struggles to track, control, and treat the virus as it decimates the rest of the population at alarming rates.
Contagion will hit too close to home for many, but its parallels to the Covid-19 epidemic enhance the drama and suspense. Scenes that were eerie enough before (like empty airports) will now send shivers up your spine with their familiarity.
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland
Genre: Pandemic, medical disaster, military drama, EOTW
In 1967, a virus runs amok in a small African village. As a result, the government wipes it out with a bomb. But one lone monkey gets away….
Fast-forward to 1995, when a virologist (Hoffman) in Zaire finds the same virus. After the monkey gets smuggled into the US, the virus starts to spread. Hoffman’s character becomes embroiled in the pandemic, and soon discovers the government isn’t being honest about the outbreak’s origin.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Cast: Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid, George Mitchell
Genre: Sci-fi, medical thriller, pandemic, EOTW
After a satellite falls from the sky, an entire town dies…save for a baby and alcoholic man. Scientists bring the survivors to their lab to try and determine what, if anything, granted these two wildly different humans immunity. Meanwhile, the virus mutates and spreads even more, while experts fight to find a cure.
The Andromeda Strain (based on the 1969 Michael Crichton book of the same name) was dubbed the most scientifically accurate virus film by the Infectious Diseases Society. If realism is a must for you to enjoy a film, you can’t beat this one.
12 Monkeys (1995)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe, Christopher Plummer
Genre: Sci-fi, EOTW, pandemic, medical thriller
In 1996, a virus kills almost the entire population, forcing the survivors underground. Years later, in 2035, a prisoner is sent back in time to find the original virus, so scientists can find a cure.
The plot is fast-paced and a bit confusing, bouncing between years and characters fairly often, but a great cast and ambitious story make it worth watching (and rewatching).
Cast: Chris Pine, Chris Meloni, Piper Perabo, Lou Taylor Pucci
Genre: Thriller, Virus, EOTW
After a virus kills most of the world, four young people are headed to the beach when their car dies. They team up with a father (Meloni) whose young daughter has the virus. They are headed to a school where there is a supposed cure.
When they get there, they find out the cure doesn’t work, so they search for a sanctuary instead. They run into a host of bad guys as well as good ones, then finally make their way to the beach. It’s a good flick filled with realistic situations and plenty of drama.
93 Days (2019)
Cast: Danny Glover, Bimbo Akintola, Gideon Okeke, Tim Reid
Genre: Medical thriller, epidemic, based on a true story
Not as well-known as most virus movies, 93 Days is lower-budget, but scarier than most for one simple reason: it’s based on a true story.
A diplomat in Nigeria is found to have Ebola and is quarantined, but not soon enough. It spreads to many others in and around Africa, resulting in horrifying deaths. As emotionally provocative as it is frightening, the film puts the spotlight on the doctors and medical personnel who sacrificed themselves to stop the virus.
Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Parvathy Thiruvothu
Genre: Pandemic, medical thriller, based on a true story
Another film based on a true story, Virus is about the 2018 Nipah virus in Kerala, which makes it even scarier.
Although the real virus “only” killed 17 people, the movie gives you the impression that millions are dying.
Patient zero, Zakariya Mohammed, dies within a few hours of getting to the hospital. Cases start popping up all around the country, taking you on a roller coaster of emotions.
Cast: Soo Ae, Jang Hyuk, Park Min-ha, Ma Dong-seok
Genre: Pandemic, science fiction, medical thriller
Brothers Byung-ki and Byung-woo find a shipping container. It’s full of dead immigrants…but with one survivor, who seems fine.
They take her with them, but the survivor escapes while Byung-woo gets sick.
Although the authorities manage to find and burn the shipping container and bodies, the rats that were eating the corpses run amok.
The Last Days (2013)
Cast: Leticia Dolera Quim Gutiérrez, Marta Etura, José Coronado
Genre: Pandemic, medical drama
The Last Days is not your typical pandemic movie. The catastrophic event gives survivors a disease called “the Panic.”
It seems that after being quarantined for so long, anyone who goes outside dies from the Panic in a lethal type of agoraphobia.
The main character, Marc, searches for his pregnant girlfriend…but must do it without actually going outside.
Panic in the Streets (1950)
Cast: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Palance
Genre: Pandemic, medical thriller, drama
The classic Panic in the Streets follows a doctor (Widmark) who is trying to stop the spread of the pneumonic plague in New Orleans.
Widmark follows the string of the infected to find one man who seems to be spreading it. Unfortunately, he is also a criminal who doesn’t want to be found.
After powering through this pandemic line-up, be sure to check out these pandemic books or this complete guide to surviving a zombie invasion—or plan another movie night with these apocalypse films now streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and other major platforms.