It’s the end of the world, and we all know it. Whether or not we feel fine is another story. With a pandemic barely in the rearview mirror and still threatening to take another poke at us, the environment continuing to sound the alarm, the Russians attacking Ukraine, inflation out of control, and a stock market slumping badly, it does kind of feel like this is the beginning of the end. What better time to sit down and wade in the depressive waters of the best end of the world movies. In these movies, sometimes the world ends with a bang and sometimes a whisper, but it always ends. Here are the best apocalyptic movies you can stream right now.
This one is most definitely of the lonely and depressive type of apocalypse. Runaway’s Virginia Gardner plays Aubrey, a young woman grieving the loss of her best friend on the day the world ends. It’s a beautiful story both in pacing and construction, and the visuals are unique and creative, mixing animation with live-action in a must-see sequence. This powerful movie packs a punch despite its deceptive quietness. You can stream it almost anywhere, including TUBI, for free.
Mad Max: Fury Road
The previous Mad Max movies are hit and miss. Anyone of a certain age remembers the original, and who could forget Tina Turner’s Thunderdome, perhaps one of the most recognized songs of the ’80s. Unfortunately, it’s not often that a franchise gets a reboot that is infinitely better than the original. Fury Road is that exception. It is a high-octane action movie that is gorgeously shot and incredibly acted. There is nothing not to like about George Miller’s masterpiece, and the impressive set pieces are as repulsive as they are dazzling. Our heroes must battle for water and gas in a hellish hardscape of sand and bone in this iteration. It is available to stream on HBO Max and Prime Video or anywhere VOD.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Matt Reeves’s continuation of the prequel story to the primate franchise shows genetically altered ape leader Caesar as he squares off against a band of human survivors. The virus that killed off a large portion of the human population ten years prior has left the world forever changed. Although a precarious peace is initially struck between the two sides, things rapidly deteriorate as everyone vies to be the controlling faction. It is an entirely fresh take on the captivating and sympathetic ape rulers. You can stream it on Disney +.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
1978’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, starring a young Donald Sutherland, is terrifying. What do you do when the person you know and love the most begins acting strangely? Assume it is pod people, of course. Sutherland pointing and screaming has become a popular meme because that lasting imagery is highly effective. This remake of the 1956 classic can be found on Prime Video.
Don’t Look Up
Politics aside, Netflix’s apocalyptic movie delivers a decisive final moment that is emotionally charged and meaningful. An all-star cast including Jennifer Lawrence, Dune’s Timothée Chalamet, and Leonardo DiCaprio bolsters the satirical and too close for comfort jokes. Some hated it, but I liked every moment, even the bizarre ending. You can only stream it on Netflix.
Alex Garland’s adaptation of the novel by Jeff Vandermeer is strange, maddening, and beautiful. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Natalie, Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thomson, and Tuva Novotny are an all-female expedition tasked with figuring out what is inside the “Shimmer,” an alien world-altering pathogen that has mutated the Earth in unimaginable ways. The ending has been debated countless times, and it takes some liberties with the source material, but Garland’s hypnotic story is uniquely his own. You can stream it on VOD almost everywhere and Paramount +.
This great found footage creature film delivers some of the best giant alien monsters on the smallest budget. It is one of my favorites of all time, and the subway spider-baby scene still haunts me. Of course, all of the Cloverfield movies except the disastrous Cloverfield Paradox have merit, but there is something about this original worth watching multiple times. You can stream it on HBO Max and VOD everywhere.
Children of Men
Brilliant and terrifying, this is a nihilistic movie with a lot to say. The world has descended into chaos after an infertility plague sweeps the globe in the near future. Clive Owen must protect and transport a mysteriously pregnant woman. Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Showtime’s The Man Who fell To Earth star Chiwetel Ejiofor. You can stream it on Prime Video, iTunes, or VUDU.
28 Days Later
Not to be confused with 28 Days, four weeks after a virus sweeps through the United Kingdom, the survivors must pick up the pieces and avoid becoming victims themselves. Written by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle, it has a rabid following because it is almost perfect. Cillian Murphy is brilliant in this tense movie that never lets off the throttle. You can stream it on HBO Max.
Garland and Boyle pair again to create Sunshine, a science fiction film about a group of astronauts on a mission to restart our dying sun before it is too late. It holds your attention from beginning to end. The diverse cast has undeniable chemistry and charm with big names like Chris Evans, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, and Mortal Kombat’s Hiroyuki Sanada. You can stream it anywhere VOD.
This weird little indie film succeeds because it is so tightly written and paced, and the performances are unimpeachable. Michael Shannon plays a father who begins to have terrible visions of the world’s end. Fearing the worst, he must decide if he should build a shelter to save his family from impending doom or himself. The ending is a killer. Stream it on Prime Video and Hulu.
Filmmaker auteur Lars von Trier is a polarizing artist. His movies never fail to instill hate or love, and Melancholia is no different. Kirsten Dunst is a young woman with a strained relationship with her family that only worsens when a mysterious planet appears in the sky. This film is as much about chronic debilitating depression as it is about the end of the world, but that’s the whole point. Depression can feel as crushing to its sufferers as a cataclysmic planet-crushing event. You can stream it on Roku, Tubi, Crackle, and VUDU for free.
Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt’s unbelievable performances anchor this trippy science fiction movie that spawned an equally fantastic series on SYFY. A time-traveling mindbender is split between several timelines where Willis’s James Cole, a convict working off his sentence, is sent back in time to try to stop a devastating plague from being released. You can stream it on HBO and Starz or get it VOD anywhere.
A Quiet Place
I would watch just about anything Jim from The Office(John Krasinski) is in, and this stellar movie written, directed, and starring him and his talented wife, Emily Blunt, is the real deal. When aliens with hypersensitivity to sound land on our planet, the only way to survive is to be silent. It is scary, heartfelt, and smart in execution and story. Unfortunately, the sequel isn’t quite as good but still bears mentioning. You can stream both on Prime Video and Paramount +.
You won’t find a more devastating ending in this film based on the short story by Stephen King. When a mysterious mist rolls in, bringing impossible beasts and insects, a group of people must band together in a grocery store. Thomas Jane is incredible as a father desperate to save his family from a terrible fate. You can stream it on Netflix right now.
The movie that led to TNT’s series is black hole bleak and speaks to truths about humanity we would rather not acknowledge. Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, and Apple TV+’s Shining Girls’ Jamie Bell are tremendous in Bong Joon Ho’s vision of environmental collapse and the oppressive classist system aboard the perpetual train engine that keeps them all alive. You can stream it on Pluto, Crackle, and Prime Video.
What happens when something so foreign and disturbing drives everyone who looks at it mad? Bird Box aims to answer that by proving sometimes it is better not to know. Another societal collapse comes in the form of monsters who are only seen in hand-drawn pictures that make everyone who sees them either dead or homicidal maniacs. Sandra Bullock stars in Netflix’s horror movie based on the novel by Josh Malerman. You can stream it on Netflix.
As far as bombastic, ridiculous Michael Bay films go, this one is the best. The massive talented cast features Bruce Willis in his prime and one of the best original songs of all time in Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. It’s funny, sappy, and just about perfect for a wild family movie, ideal for lite popcorn viewing. You can stream it on Prime Video, Hulu, and Peacock.
Another adventure end of the world movie, Independence Day is quintessential Will Smith doing his Will Smith thing. Despite his recent bad behavior at the Oscars, he is a proven commodity at the box office. I can think of no one better to save us when aliens come threatening to destroy us all than Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Harry Connick Jr, and Randy Quaid. You can stream it on Prime Video and Peacock.
Haunting and sad, Viggo Mortensen plays a father in a post-apocalyptic world desperately trying to keep his son safe as they navigate untold dangers. It’s a poignant look at the love between a father and son and the lengths one will go to ensure their offspring lives on. It is based on Cormac McCarthy’s stirring novel. You can stream it free on Tubi, Plex, and Pluto.
Shaun Of The Dead
Horror comedies aren’t a favorite subgenre of mine, but Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright made a convert out of me. This zombie comedy(zombedy?) is hilarious and possibly the best brain eater movie made since George A Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead. While Romero started it all with his politically and racially charged zombie film, Pegg and Wright take an entirely different direction and create something that can be enjoyed repeatedly. You can stream it on HBO Max.
Rufus Sewell stars as a man on the run after being accused of brutal murders he has no memory of committing. He finds the entire world is under the influence of a group of beings called the Strangers, who can put every person to sleep and alter the world and their memories as they see fit. It is a dark, sinister, and surreal nightmare that is one of the best sci-fi horror movies. You can stream it on Prime Video and VUDU.
I would be remiss in not mentioning Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, the entire Matrix franchise, The Fifth Element, Contagion, It Comes At Night, Zombieland, The Book Of Eli, and Stalker, which all have their own merits.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.