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Given everything that’s going on in the world right now, you’d be excused for thinking that you’re living through a horror movie. And yet, some people actually want to binge-watch actual horror movies. Why? We don’t know. But there are plenty of them out there. Our resident cineaste has curated a list of the best horror movies about apocalypse, disaster, global pandemics and viruses. They’re eerily relevant, and sometimes even prescient. Making them good films to binge-watch during this coronavirus era – if you’re into that kind of thing, dear reader.

sometimes life starts to look like a horror movie

Now is an incredibly stressful time for all of us. Everyone is coping with the quarantine in different ways: some by escaping into the comforting embrace of a romance novel, some by sending funny memes to their socially-distanced friends, and some by facing our current situation head-on. That’s right: by watching horror movies about the apocalypse, disaster, global pandemics and viruses.

If you are someone who is currently craving the terrifying landscape of apocalyptic films, you are not alone. Many have found watching worst case scenarios played out on screen to be strangely soothing in these trying times. And lucky for you, there are plenty to choose from.

Our list includes all the greatest apocalyptic hits: global pandemics (of course), zombie apocalypses, nuclear apocalypses, and even some fantastic alien invasion movies.

If you need convincing that things could actually be worse, here are twelve of our favorite horror movies that are scarily relevant for our new normal. These are the films to binge-watch during the coronavirus era if you’re looking for a serious scare.

The Best Horror Movies on pandemics and global viruses

1. Contagion

Of course, we have to begin with the Mother of Them All, Contagion. Though it was well-received, the 2011 Steven Soderbergh drama largely faded into the ether after its release. Well, now it has resurfaced, as its anxiety-inducing storyline feels almost eerily prophetic for the present moment.

Watch as its A-list cast – everyone from Laurence Fishburne and Matt Damon to Gwyneth Paltrow and Bryan Cranston – works to fight a mysterious virus that grips the entire globe. Praised for its scientific accuracy, this movie may or may not be the perfect companion for you right now.

2. I Am Legend

But what happens after a pandemic wipes out almost everybody on the earth? If that’s what’s on your mind, it may be time to rewatch I Am Legend, a movie about a man (played by Will Smith), who might be the last living survivor of a devastating plague.

Watch as he travels around a decimated New York City, searching for signs of life and trying to find a cure. This thriller of a science fiction film may hit a little closer to home now than it usually does. It’s a classic, and always worth a watch.

3. 28 Days Later

Cillian Murphy plays Jim, a man who wakes up in a quarantined city 28 days after a mysterious virus has taken over the minds of most of London. In this Danny Boyle-directed horror film, Jim must join up with other survivors (played by Naomie Harris and Megan Burns) to survive this terrifying new reality.

For those who are interested in a slightly different, definitely nerve-wracking take on the pandemic genre, this is a great choice. And if you really love it, there’s a sequel called 28 Weeks Later.

4. Children of Men

Based on the novel of the same name, this Oscar-nominated epic from Alfonso Cuarón is almost certainly the best post-apocalyptic film ever made. Set in a 2027 that has been torn apart by two decades of infertility, Clive Owen plays Theo Faron, a man attempting to save a woman who has miraculously become pregnant.

With an incredible cast that includes Julianne Moore, Claire Hope Ashitay, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Charlie Hunnam, this is the rare dystopia that works on every single level. Though certainly dark, it is a movie that feels relevant always – not just at our current moment – and should be watched by absolutely everyone.

5. Attack the Block

When aliens invade a block in South London, it is up to a gang of teenagers to defend their home from the mysterious intruders. Attack the Block is one of the most criminally underrated films of the last decade, starring John Boyega in one of his earliest roles.

The movie is nonstop motion, managing to feel simultaneously prescient and absurdist in every scene. If you want an apocalyptic flick that is just a little bit fun, this should be your choice.

6. Dredd

Another underrated science fiction gem, Dredd takes place in a violent alternate universe. It is first and foremost a day-in-the-life, as Dredd and Anderson (played by Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby, respectively) make their way through a futuristic megacity in an effort to enforce justice. This is an entirely new and fresh take on post-apocalypse, showing how horror might manifest in city life after the world ends.

7. Train to Busan

The best movies are ones that can be summarized in a single sentence. In acclaimed Korean thriller Train to Busan, a group of passengers must try to survive a viral zombie outbreak on their train ride from Seoul to Busan.

Nail-bitingly tense and almost impossible not to enjoy, this timely gem is available on Netflix.

8. The Book of Eli

Decades after the United States is destroyed in a nuclear apocalypse, a survivor (played by Denzel Washington!) traipses across its remains with the hope of protecting a book that has the power to save mankind.

Washington is always excellent to watch, and the film weaves questions of religion through its universe in a way that gives it a different layer than some others in the genre. The premise is well executed in the talented hands of the Hughes brothers, and you can’t go wrong with this one.

9. Shaun of the Dead

If you think you’re done with zombie apocalypse movies, have you seen Shaun of the Dead? Because you’ve never seen a zombie apocalypse movie like this one.

In Edgar Wright’s comedic and insanely entertaining take on the zombie apocalypse, ordinary man Shaun (played by Simon Pegg) must try to save himself and his friends from an untimely demise.

10. Take Shelter

If you’ve had enough of zombies and wastelands, it’s time to watch Take Shelter, a movie that will stress you out in a new and different way. Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a man who does not know if the apocalyptic visions he has been suffering from are real or fiction.

For those who are wrestling with their own sense of preparedness, this film about a potential natural disaster is a must-watch.

11. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Even though it isn’t, right now might feel like the end of the world. If you’re looking to see that sentiment reflected on screen, this unconventional romantic comedy from Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley play neighbors, who decide to take a road trip together before the planet is hit by a fatal asteroid. The movie strikes a unique tonal balance of sweetness and existential despair, creating an atmosphere that feels pretty familiar to us all right now.

12. Mars Attacks!

We all need to laugh right now. And who says the end of the world can’t be funny? If you want an absurdist take on the apocalypse, it’s time to revisit the 1996 Tim Burton film, which is a campy, ridiculous and so-bad-it’s-good (or maybe just genuinely good) wonderland. Every actor in the world is in it, and it is wacky and incredible from beginning to end.

Eerily relevant Horror films to binge-watch during the coronavirus era

That’s it – our picks for the best disaster and apocalyptic movies. Pop the popcorn, and let the mayhem begin!

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.