The 20 Best Virus and Pandemic Movies to Stream Now | Let’s All Freak Out!7 min read

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I did something strange the moment I realized how serious the coronavirus pandemic was: I googled “best virus movies” and proceeded to watch almost all of them. Contagion, 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever. I couldn’t stop, and I don’t know why.

Maybe these epidemic movies are making what’s actually happening in real life seem less scary. Perhaps the coronavirus has just unleashed this obsession I have with the apocalypse. Either way, my queue is filled to the brim with pandemic movies.

I’m not alone in this. The 2011 movie Contagion—which most closely mirrors our situation with the coronavirus, albeit an extreme case—has seen a massive uptick in streaming. And I don’t think fascination with epidemic movies is going to dwindle any time soon. If you find yourself in the same boat as me, then this guide, below, of the best virus movies should come in handy. Social distancing isn’t so bad when you have a solid (and themed) film lineup.

20.The Happening (2008)

A science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife (Zooey Deschanel) must survive a viral plague that causes those infected to die by suicide. The film is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, The Village) so expect unnerving suspense, creepy imagery, and a whopper of an ending.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

19.Warm Bodies (2013)

If you want a zombie outbreak movie with more heart and less horror, consider Warm Bodies. It centers on a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who saves a girl (Teresa Palmer) from an attack, and a romance blooms. Throw this one into your pandemic movie marathon for some levity.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

18.The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

One of my favorite disaster movies of all time, The Day After Tomorrow depicts a massive weather disaster that impacts the entire world. New York City becomes flooded. Los Angeles falls victim to massive tornadoes. You get the idea. Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Emmy Rossum star.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

17.The Andromeda Strain (1971)

One of the earlier epidemic movies, The Andromeda Strain is fairly straightforward: Based on the 1969 Michael Crichton novel, the film centers on a group of scientists working to figure out what unknown virus killed all the citizens of a small town. And if you’re really in the mood for virus movies, there’s also a 2008 A&E miniseries remake you can watch after.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

16.Quarantine (2008)

Found-footage horror fans will really enjoy Quarantine, which follows a TV reporter and her cameraman who get trapped in a building that’s being quarantined by the Center for Disease Control. Inside are a group of humans infected by a mysterious disease that’s turned them into bloodthirsty monsters.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

15. I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend follows a U.S. Army virologist (Will Smith, in one of his most popular roles) who has outrun a pathogen that was supposed to cure cancer but actually turned humans into zombies. He seeks to find a cure for the outbreak—and any survivors hiding in the shadows.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

14.It Comes at Night (2017)

A family has secluded themselves from the outside world in light of a terrifying, widespread outbreak. But their new regime is flipped upside down when a second family shows up to the house, seeking refuge. Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, and Riley Keough star in this slow-burn thriller.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

13. ♥ The Crazies (2010) 

A sheriff and his wife (Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell) must find their way out of a small town that’s been blockaded off because its citizens have fallen victim to a toxin that turns them into vicious, zombie-like monsters. Danielle Panabaker and Joe Anderson costar in this sci-fi horror.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

12.Outbreak (1995)

An absolute classic starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, and Donald Sutherland, Outbreak centers on a group of contagious-disease experts who work to minimize and eliminate an airborne virus that’s wreaking havoc on a small California town. This one has also seen an increase in rentals in light of coronavirus.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

11.Cloverfield (2008)

A winged creature the size of a skyscraper descends onto New York and wreaks absolute havoc, completely dismantling the city. Confused and terrified, a group of Manhattanites attempt to survive in the aftermath…with the monster still on the loose. Lizzy Caplan and Jessica Lucas lead this movie, which wound up becoming a massive franchise.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

10.Carriers (2009)

Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, and Emily VanCamp star in this paint-by-numbers but nonetheless compelling tale about four survivors of a viral plague who start to turn on each other while seeking refuge from the terrifying disease. It currently has a 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

9.Contagion (2011)

It’s the movie on everyone’s minds and yes, well worth the watch. For one, the cast is stacked: Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the list continues. Also, the story, about a virus that sweeps the world and kills people within days of infection, is gripping.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

8. 28 Days Later (2002)

A bike courier (Cillian Murphy) wakes up a month after falling into a coma to find his city, London, completely ravaged and desolated by a “Rage” virus that turns human beings into deranged, murderous mutants. Soon he meets other survivors (Noah Huntley and Naomie Harris) and together they try to seek answers and refuge.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

7. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

A sequel to 28 Days Later, this movie takes place six months after the events of the first movie, when mankind has declared victory on the “Rage” virus. But sadly, it’s just the calm before the storm. Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, and Idris Elba star.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

6.Cabin Fever (2002)

A group of college kids’ plans for a rowdy spring break at a remote cabin are dismantled when they become exposed to a flesh-eating virus that starts picking them off one by one. This 2002 film was the start of the profitable Cabin Fever franchise, which spawned a sequel, a prequel, and a remake.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

5.Cloverfield Lane (2016)

This brisk, claustrophobic thriller follows a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who becomes trapped in a bunker and is told the world is now toxic. Is her captor, played by John Goodman, telling the truth? Or does he have more sinister motives? You don’t find out until the very end, and the payoff is stupendous.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

4.Bird Box (2018)

This Sandra Bullock suspense rollercoaster was a hit when it came out on Netflix in December 2018. It centers on a woman (Bullock) who must survive in a post-apocalyptic universe where a widespread, mysterious pathogen causes people to die if they look it in the eye. Sarah Paulson also stars.

Streaming on Netflix.

3.Blindness (2008)

Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo star in this movie, in which the world has been upended by an epidemic that causes blindness. A woman who is secretly immune to the disease follows her affected husband, a doctor, to quarantine…which is located in an abandoned mental institution.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

2.Dawn of the Dead

Per Amazon, “Heart-pounding action and bone-chilling thrills power this edgy, electrifying fright-fest where a handful of human survivors wage a desperate, last-stand battle against flesh-eating zombies.” It’s a remake of the 1978 classic and stars Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Jake Weber. With a 4.5/5 rating on Amazon, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

1.World War Z  – (my favorite movie)

Brad Pitt plays a former United Nations employee who seeks to find the source and cure of a viral epidemic that turns those infected into vicious, feral monsters. Clocking in at just under two hours, this one is a bit lengthy…but absolutely nail-biting from start to finish.

Available for rent on Amazon Prime Video.

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