It's quite thrilling to watch a movie about the end of the world. Some storylines instill a greater amount of fear than others. Here's a list of apocalyptic movies that are more frightening now than ever.
42. The Omega Man (1971)
The Omega Man's certainly got plenty of that classic 70s charm — from its cheesy dialogue to the groovy tunes on its soundtrack. It also has a pretty darn intimidating villain. Unlike The Last Man on Earth, which features mutated scientists, this rendition pits our protagonist Charlton Heston against a cult of robed ghouls.
Yeah, because it wouldn't be a classic 70s movie without some chanting cultists attempting to sacrifice people in an abandoned Dodgers Stadium. Cheap thrills are guaranteed even if you don't catch the undertones of social commentary about the Vietnam War era. So kick back, relax and enjoy this uniquely retro take on Matheson's vision for I Am Legend — full of wacky outfits and science-fiction action.
41. The Book of Eli (2010)
Starring Denzel Washington as the machete-wielding hero, The Book of Eli is an awesome addition to the now-stale trope of apocalyptic-quest stories like The Last of Us. This Hughes brother classic takes its sepia-saturated color palette quite seriously. It follows our man Eli on his mission to deliver the only remaining copy of the Bible (because what else would be preserved when there’s an apocalypse?) to Alcatraz Island so that it can join other artifacts from pre-nuclear collapse life.
It wouldn’t be a movie if some evil town boss (Gary Oldman) didn't have something to say about it and his band of thugs chasing Eli around! But luckily for us, despite losing his holy book to Carnegie at one point during the film, Eli still manages to pull off a twist ending that even rivals M. Night Shyamalan's best work.
40. The Road Warrior (1984)
The Road Warrior is the stuff of legends – an epic tribute to shattered dreams, and one of the most gloriously grimy depictions of a post-apocalyptic motorized meltdown. Max Rockatansky's mission? Help a band of scruffy survivors outrun Humongous, the maniacal warlord hellbent on stealing their fuel.
But this isn't any ol' road trip! Prepare yourselves for rocket-fuelled escapism and more revved-up action than you can shake a flaming lasso at! So warp your engines and buckle up for an unforgettable ride. After all, it has an uncompromisingly high 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes so you KNOW it's worth every spin around the wasteland!
39. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
If the portrayal of dysfunctional families needs a cheerful revamp, the Mitchells are ready to give it a go on your screen. The Mitchells vs. the Machines follows the life of Katie Mitchell, who is ready to embark on her dream to study at film school. Her family, crazy yet supportive, decides to get on one final road trip to drop her off.
But their family time is soon cut short when all the electronic devices in the world come to life in Terminator fashion to take over the world. With the help of friendly robots, can the Mitchell family save the world from a takeover?
38. Annihilation (2018)
Guided by the acting heavyweight Natalie Portman, Annihilation is a movie that will keep your hair on edge throughout its 2-hour playtime. Lena, played by Portman, is a former soldier-turned-biologist who lost her husband to mysterious circumstances. Determined to uncover the secret, she journeys to Area X, where his body is found.
But the mission won’t go as easy as she thinks, because Area X is home to biologically mutated creatures, all of which are out for blood. Bloodcurdling action and hypnotic scenes move from one frame to the next. It is a sure-shot success with those fans of Natalie Portman and who love the horror genre.
37. Noah (2014)
Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly take the biblical story of Noah and bring it to life with stunning visuals and strong performances. Following God’s verdict that mankind cannot seek redemption for their sins, Noah is tasked to build an ark large enough to house his family and a breeding pair of all species of animals and keep them safe as God brings to the world the flood to clear mankind’s existence.
While we all grew up listening to the story of Noah, this movie can make you pause and think about the symbolic significance of the story. Possibly even rethinking how you act in the world.
36. A Quiet Place (2018)
A Quiet Place runs primarily on the chemistry between power couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski. Set in a time when mysterious creatures who hunt by sound have eliminated most of the human species, the Abbott family with their three children must make sure that whatever they do, they make no sound.
But when the creatures close their claws around their family, Evelyn and Lee must take a final stand, because parents have to protect their children. The most capturing element of the movie – is how they eliminated the need for sound.
35. Deep Impact
Armageddon movies have a sense of humor to them. Especially when Armageddon is kept under wraps, like in Deep Impact.
While America denies the existence of a comet that could obliterate all life on Earth, Jenny Lerner twists the President's arm until he comes up with a plan. And what is the plan? To send a team of astronauts to blow up the comet before humanity takes its last breath.
34. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
When you suddenly see your patients turn into emotionless shells of their former selves, what would you as a doctor believe? Would you believe that the real people are being kidnapped?
So is the question that stares at the face of Dr. Miles Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), who must soon find who, or what is the cause behind the sudden occurrences before it takes over the small town of Santa Mira?
33. Don't Look Up
In Don’t Look Up, Kate DiBiasky is the discoverer of mankind's scariest discovery - a meteor that is sure to wipe out all life on Earth. Along with her professor Dr. Randall Mindy.
She goes to notify the government to find that the president is occupied with her poll numbers than with the future of the planet. By navigating through the media and political circles, will they be able to save mankind from complete annihilation?
Featuring a star cast of Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, Arrival takes the end-of-the-world genre to unexplored territory and succeeds to grab our attention.
When spaceships touch down all around the world, Louisa and a team of linguists must journey to each location and attempt to communicate with the visitors. Will the team be able to save humanity before the clock ticks out?
31. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
We have to credit Dawn of the Dead (1978) for being one of the best zombie movies of all time.
As humans become infected by the millions, the remaining survivors must find a way to save themselves and possibly fight the last fight for the species. Combining wit
30. This Is The End
This is the End is an atypical movie about the end of the world. The thrilling comedy includes some big-time comedy moguls, including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and even a surprising feature of Rihanna.
It begins with Franco inviting them all to a house party, but things take an unexpected turn when a massive earthquake hits. Los Angeles starts to crumble and the actors (who play themselves) try to survive the terrifying apocalypse. All whilst being trapped in a huge mansion.
29. The 5th Wave
Based on the novel written by Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave stars Chloë Grace Moretz. Her character, Cassie Sullivan tried to save her little brother from intruding aliens, known as "the others." The extraterrestrial creatures then hit the world with "waves," each one worse than before.
From gigantic tsunamis to destructive earthquakes and even fatal diseases that spread worldwide. "The others" continuously attempted to remove all humans from earth. But, the jaw-dropping film didn't impress everybody. It received a rating of 15% from Rotten Tomatoes.
28. The Happening
When an unknown neurotoxin started to spread, a scientist, played by Mark Wahlberg, and his wife, portrayed by Zooey Deschanel, try to find out what was happening. The airborne toxin caused people to lose their ability of speech, coordination, and eventually made people take their own lives.
The thrilling movie was directed by M. Night Shyamalan and there was a lot of hype. But, a New Yorker movie critic called it an "awful letdown." Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 18%, the website explained, "The Happening begins with promise, but unfortunately descends into an incoherent and unconvincing trifle."
27. Seeking a Friend For The End of the World
This film takes on a different angle than typical apocalyptic movies. After it was announced that an asteroid will destroy the world in a few weeks, Dodge (Steve Carell) decided to go find his true love. As the world goes into mayhem, he and his neighbor, Penny, form a relationship, spending their remaining moments on a road trip.
Instead of attempting to save planet earth, the pair become closer as they come to terms with their impending death. The 2012 film wasn't a huge success. Movie reviewers said it had a "disappointing final act." Seems like doomsday movies should stay exciting rather than heartwarming.
The movie 2012 was based on the idea that the world was actually going to end on December 21, 2012. This was believed by the Mayans, so Hollywood decided to create a film about it. The plotline follows Jackson Curtis, portrayed by John Cusack, as he attempted to save his family from Earth's destruction.
Many natural disasters occur throughout the story, such as floods, earthquakes, and explosive volcanoes. The visual effects were very realistic but Rotten Tomatoes condemned 2012 because it, "lacks a strong enough script to support its massive scope and inflated length."
25. The Day After Tomorrow
In The Day After Tomorrow, Jack Hall's character, Dennis Quaid warned the U.N. about a terrifying ice age caused by climate change. The approaching superstorm will lead to the destruction of Earth. Quaid, the climatologist has to then go save his son, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, when he gets caught in a New York tsunami.
Critics enjoyed the 2004 Science Fiction thriller's script and visuals, but not so much the plot. Richard Roeper, a Rotten Tomatoes top critic said, "The situations are just so ludicrous that it really detracts from the quality of the special effects."
Another apocalyptic film about climate change that made our list is WaterWorld. In the 1995 movie, the world had become flooded by water, after the polar ice caps completely dissolved. Humans then must learn to survive through evolution. They begin adapting by growing gills.
The plot thickens when the 3 main characters, a mariner played by Kevin Costner, and two girls, travel to find dry land. One film critic for the San Fransisco Chronicle called WaterWorld, "A genuine vault at greatness that misses the mark -- but survives."
23. The Day The Earth Stood Still
This end of the world thriller was broadly based on "Farewell to the Master," a 1940's short story by Harry Bates. The action begins after an alien, played by Keanu Reeves, landed a spaceship in the middle of New York City. The species came to earth to deliver a message to humans.
Scientists and government officials try to figure out the meaning of the attack. Dr. Helen Benson, played by Jennifer Connelly, is the one who ultimately solved the crisis. A USA Today critic said, "A good portion of this sci-fi disaster movie is unintentionally comical. And the parts that aren't funny are just plain dull."
22. The Tomorrow War
Chris Pratt played Dan Forester in the 2021 Sci-Fi action movie, The Tomorrow War. The story unravels when time travelers from 2051 go to the present day and inform the citizens that the earth has been invaded by aliens. The plot thickens when Pratt's character is drafted into the future war against the deadly species.
After leaving behind his family, Forester realized he may be the only one able to save mankind from the White Spikes. The movie had a shocking yet heartwarming twist that kept audiences at the edge of their seats. The movie received a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
21. The Core
Typically doomsday movies are about an external species invading the planet or a natural disaster ruining Earth. But, in The Core, the issue happened in the center of the earth. When Earth's inner core ceases to spin, the atmosphere begins collapsing as the electromagnetic field disappeared.
To save humankind, a group of scientists, played by Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, and Stanley Tucci have to go inside the core to resume the rotation. The irregular plotline received some criticism from viewers. One critic recalled, "There's a marked absence of panic in The Core."
20. Bird Box
Bird Box was arguably a success as one of Netflix's original films. Audiences were hooked as the plot unfolded. The movie follows Sandra Bullock's character, Malorie, and her two kids, 'Girl' and 'Boy.' The 3 remain wearing eye coverings throughout the film because it's deadly to see the creatures that have taken over Earth.
Along with the movie's characters, the viewers themselves never got to see the mysterious being. The thrilling apocalyptic film got a 65% from Rotten Tomatoes. The haunting and chilling tone grasps audiences, but the overall story lacked "potential," according to critics.
After a fatal disease took the lives of a big portion of humankind, a squad of youngsters try to find a safe place to avoid being infected. Throughout Carriers, the characters face a handful of setbacks, such as running into sick people. The film starred Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, and Emily VanCamp.
The riveting story of a terrifying epidemic received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 66 percent. Rob Nelson, a critic for Variety said Carriers had, “moments of genuinely communicable horror, and thus deserves better than a de facto theatrical quarantine.”
Melancholia was a sci-fi drama released in 2011. The film starred Kristen Dunst who's character, Justine, has her life turned upside down on her wedding day. News broke that Earth and another planet, Melancholia, would collide and cause doomsday to occur.
The movie follows the life of Justine and her sister as they struggle with the nearing disaster. The story wasn't just an apocalyptic one, it also focused on chronic depression. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 80%, "Melancholia floats in an air of supernatural malaise and tension, a melancholy mirrored in everything and everyone."
17. I Am Legend
When a synthetic infection caused people to turn into blood-thirsty zombies, most of the population gets wiped out. Leaving Will Smith's character, Dr. Robert Neville, and his dog roaming around the empty streets of New York, searching for survivors. All while avoiding getting caught by the deadly monsters.
Although Smith gave a powerful performance in I Am Legend, movie critics claimed that the storyline had a few flaws. Alex Fletcher said on Rotten Tomatoes, "It's a better-than-average blockbuster, which sweeps around some large ideas and interesting themes, but never delves for long enough to make this film a true classic."
This star-studded film, Armageddon, received a low 38% rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics, but still managed to get a 73% from fans. Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler's characters team up with NASA. Their mission is to set off a nuclear bomb to terminate a Texas-sized meteor headed their way.
The group saved the planet from the asteroid that was bound to hit and remove Earth's population. Astronomers criticized the scientific validity of the plot. Nevertheless, the action-packed film, directed by Michael Bay, was named one of the highest-grossing films in 1998.
15. Independence Day
In this Will Smith film, he doesn't need to face a global tragedy all alone. Independence Day follows a group of people who attempted to halt extraterrestrial creatures from destroying the planet. The creatures invaded the White House and planned on exterminating humans on the 4th of July.
The Sci-Fi drama earned a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 68%. The critic consensus described the movie, "The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers." Will Smith arguably never ceases to amaze.
In modern cinematography, vampires are usually depicted as living amongst humankind. But in DayBreakers, a plague has caused the population to increasingly gain more vampires. As the creatures feed on human blood, the number of mortal's began to decrease.
The plot thickens when the three main characters seek to find a remedy. The action-filled film sustained both good and bad reviews, with a 69% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The overall critic was, "Daybreakers offers enough dark sci-fi thrills -- and enough of a unique twist on the genre -- to satisfy filmgoers."
13. World War Z
World War Z was a film adaptation of Max Brooks's novel. The 2006 release starred Brad Pitt, who played Gerry Lane, a retired UN employee. Lane sought to find the source of the fatal disease that led to a horrific pandemic. As he tries to save the human race, Pitt's character faces many obstacles.
The riveting movie had viewers on the edge of their seats, receiving a 72% audience rating and a 66% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. World War Z gained a ton of recognition from fans, arguably becoming one of today's most known end-of-the-world movies.
12. War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds was based on an 1897 book by H.G. Wells. It has been said to be one of the first stories where people go against an out-of-this-world being. The 2005 movie release starred Tom Cruise. The story follows his character, Ray Ferrier, as he attempts to shelter his family from an alien attack.
Audiences and movie critics had varying opinions of the film. With a 75% rating from movie reviewers and only 42% from viewers. One critic said, "[Steven] Spielberg always delivers a quality product, and teaming him with Cruise results in a well done, modern rendition of this classic story."
11. The Road
Another novel that turned into a thrilling world disastrous film is The Road, adapted from Cormac McCarthy's book. The movie followed the life of a father and son duo in a post-apocalyptic world. The dad is portrayed by actor Viggo Mortensen and the young boy, by Kodi Smith-McPhee.
The pair faced many hiccups throughout their journey avoiding horrific cannibals. The disturbing yet emotional film caught the attention of movie critics. Including Paul Byrne, who said, “It calls on all of one’s powers of emotional endurance but it rewards the brave.” Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 74%.
10. 12 Monkeys
What started out as an unknown disease named "army of monkeys" turns into an awful pandemic. In this 90's film, starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, only around 1% of mankind is left surviving in the year 2035. Everyone lives underneath the ground to avoid the deadly virus.
James Coles, Will's character, comes up with an idea, he will help humanity restore its population. By going back in time to 40 years prior to stop any infection from spreading. 12 Monkeys was well-liked by both critics and audiences, with a high 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
After coming back home from a trip to Hong Kong, Beth, portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow and her little boy mysteriously pass away. The movie then takes the viewers along Beth's travels. The clips explained how she became the first infected person to contract a fatal virus.
The disease spread throughout the globe, causing a pandemic. Medical professionals were stunned, unknowing how to restrain the virus. The movie depicts how simple it can be for bacteria to spread. Contagion had an important message and a good storyline, earning itself a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85%.
8. Children of Men
In Children of Men, no one has reproduced in nearly 18 years. The film is set in 2027, and after the youngest citizen passes away, the world is sent into a panic. The infertility that has plagued mankind could lead to the disappearance of the entire population.
So, when a woman mysteriously bears a child, they try to shelter her and make sure her delivery is safe. Two academy award winners, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine star in Children of Men. The dystopian storyline was a successful one, Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie a 92%.
7. Shaun of the Dead
A zombie takeover is a global catastrophe that happens in the movie of Shaun of the Dead. Shaun, played by Simon Pegg and his closest friend Ed, acted by Nick Frost, team up to save London from the zombie attacks. The film is less terrifying than other doomsday ones and instead is more of a funny yet action-filled genre.
"Shaun of the Dead cleverly balances scares and witty satire," described Rotten Tomatoes movie reviewers, giving it a 92% score. Critics weren't the only fans of the 2004 movie, celebs like Jim Broadbent and Quentin Tarantino previously mentioned it to be one of their top movies to watch.
6. The Quiet Place
The Quiet Place stars Emily Blunt alongside her real-life husband John Krasinski, who also directed the film. The story follows a family struggling to survive after horrendous creatures annihilated the majority of the population. But to do so they must stay extremely quiet because the scary life form has sensitive hearing.
If the beast hear any sound, they attack. The spine-chilling movie had audiences creeped out, even with minimal dialogue. The apocalyptic story obtained a high rating of 95% from Rotten Tomatoes. Critics said it, "plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary."
5. The Matrix
Although it may not seem like a futuristic movie, The Matrix is about the end-of-the-world, it technically is. The movie follows Neo, played by Keanu Reeves and his team, who are living in the simulation. But what about the rest of humanity who are not on the aircraft named Nebuchadnezzar.
Because the computers destroyed the world, it caused the planet to become an apocalyptic place, where no person can live. The iconic film was described by a movie critic, "A technologically stunning movie that furthers the genre and features crowd-pleasing performances to go with the frequent scenes of gunplay and violence."
4. 28 Days Later
28 Days Later followed a squad of animal rights advocates. Cillian Murphy played the main character, Jim, who helped his friends release a bunch of chimps from a locked-up cage. But, what the activists didn't know was that there was a reason the monkeys were trapped in a scientific lab.
After falling into a coma, Jim gains consciousness 28 days after freeing the chimpanzees, only to find out that the animals were contaminated with a fatal illness. As he walks down the streets of London, he sees that most of humankind's lives have been taken from the virus. The dark film was appreciated by viewers and critics.
Zombieland is of course about a zombie invasion, the film takes the audience through the character's journey of survival. As they travel through the empty haunting streets of Los Angeles, all while avoiding the biting monsters. It stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Emma Stone.
Although zombie attacks have become a mainstream apocalyptic theme, Zombieland managed to create an ideal blend of action, comedy, and horror. Movie review, Anthony Quinn said, "A zombie comedy funnier than Shaun of the Dead? They said it couldn't be done, but here it is."
In Snowpiercer, the citizens of Earth have just gone through an Ice Age. Leaving the remaining population's only livable option to be on an active train. Yet, the social class still persists in this apocalyptic world, the poorest group are separated from the richest.
It's without a doubt that Snowpiercer was a successful film, with a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. One movie review, Ty Burr said, "There's a righteous savagery to this movie that's almost but not quite obscured by the lushness of its imagined world."
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The adventurous movie was released in 2015. The film depicted a futuristic world where the characters are running away from a merciless warlord. The relentless chase occurs through abandoned areas.
The aspect which made Mad Max: Fury Road a post-apocalyptic film is that all of humanity was wrecked. The crumbling society caused everyone to have to fight to survive. The gripping story, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron was a notable doomsday movie.