Movie List

13 Best Survival Movies on Netflix Right Now

Updated February 11, 2020
10 min read

We absolutely love stories of grit, spirit and human courage. It could be the story of a stranded castaway stuck on an island far from the inhabited lands or the story of a plane crash survivor struggling to survive in extreme temperatures. We love them all. A lot of these movies are also based on real-life stories that make the death-defying acts of the protagonists even more fascinating. It’s inspiring to cheer for people who are stuck in brutal conditions and it’s even better to watch them survive it with battle scars that they’ll wear for the rest of their lives.

But we must admit that being in a dangerous situation where you’re struggling to light a fire by rubbing two rocks or building your own boat to cross the unmerciful ocean wouldn’t really be a good feeling. In fact, it’ll be more or less of a nightmare for most of us. And that’s why we just prefer to watch all of that instead of actually experiencing it. And quite honestly, why would someone even think of getting themselves in a situation like that on purpose unless of course, you’re “Alexander Supertramp” or Bear Grylls? Let’s be honest to ourselves, we wouldn’t survive even for a day without our pampering lifestyles. Having said that, it’s great to sit and watch survival movies and Netflix has got an incredible collection of such movies. So, here’s the list of really good survival movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now:

13. 47 Meter Down (2017)

This movie is an absolute nightmare for someone who suffers from hydrophobia (fear of water), claustrophobia (fear of confined places) or galeophobia (fear of sharks) and if you suffer from all of these, then this one might just be a bit too much for you. ’47 Meters Down’ is the story of two sisters who seem to be having a good time traveling Mexico until they decide to go on an underwater adventure. The adventure turns into their worst nightmare when they find themselves stuck in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean with their oxygen slowly running out and to make it worse they’re also surrounded by deadly hungry sharks. I can’t even imagine what someone would do in a helpless situation like this one and I’m sure neither can you. So, make sure you watch this one to find out what the sisters do to get themselves out.

12. IO Last on Earth (2019)

The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where almost all of the human population has left our planet and moved to Jupiter’s moon, IO. Earth has been declared toxic but scientist Sam Walden believes otherwise and still wants to find a way for humans to live on their home planet. She sends out a broadcast message one day to see if anyone who is still on earth will come to find her. A man named Micah hears the radio transmission and visits her. But Micah is not at all convinced with Sam’s notions and believes that there is no scope for survival on Earth anymore. They both have a tough decision to make — should they take the next shuttle which is the last one to IO or stick around and find a solution?

11. No Escape (2015)

Owen Wilson plays the role of Jack Dwyer who moves overseas with his wife and two daughters. But soon after he gets there, he finds himself stuck between an aggressive rebellion of the army who are executing all foreigners. Jack gets his family and quickly makes his way to the US embassy amidst this military coup somehow managing to keep his family and himself alive. Owen Wilson does a great job in this movie and the excellent plot will surely keep you at the edge of your seat, biting your nails off and gritting your teeth.

10. Extinction (2018)

This one’s kind of like a Noah’s Ark adaptation with a dash of extraterrestrial hauntings in it. ‘Extinction’ is the story of Peter who is a great father and husband. He suddenly starts getting haunted by reoccurring dreams where his family dies. Everyone gets troubled by his paranoid behavior that follows his dreams but soon after that, the world gets attacked by alien forces that have come with an intention to invade us. Peter needs to find the strength to protect his family from these alien forces but let me assure you that this not your typical sci-fi invasion film about survival. It holds a big twist that makes you jump out of your seat. A must watch for all survival sci-fi lovers as this one holds an amazingly unique concept which has been executed almost perfectly.

9. 127 Hours (2010)

‘127 Hours’ is probably one of the best movies James Franco has starred in. It is based on the real-life events of an adventurer name Aron who went hiking into the canyons one day. During his hike, he meets two girls who are probably the last people he’ll ever see. Aron drifts through a small crevice in the canyon when suddenly a loose boulder falls off from above trapping his right arm between the boulder and the wall of the crevice. He screams for help but the girls are far far away by then and he has informed no one about his hiking trip. Stuck in the canyon, Aron starts getting flashbacks of his friends, family and ex-lovers and all of this later gives him the strength to take desperate measures to survive and get himself out of there. This is another classic by the director of Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle and will take you through an emotional and remarkable experience.

8. Jaws (1975)

‘Jaws’ gave birth to the idea of shark survival movies. It is a representation of a book that goes by the same name written by Michael Crichton who is also the writer of the Jurassic Park series. This is the movie that started it all. The movie is so gripping and so heart-wrenching, you’ll be falling out of your seat while watching this one. What makes this movie so scary is the fact that how it represents the lives of normal working people like you and me getting haunted by a creature that actually exists. The movie not only taps into one’s fear of sharks but also the fear of the unknown. The film has been written so well, every minute of it will leave in suspense, wondering what will happen next.

7. The Wave (2015)

A lot of amazing movies have been made about huge gigantic waves that destroy everything in their way. ‘The Wave’ is one of those films and can qualify to be one of the best out of all. ‘The Wave’ captures the life of a geologist who gets caught right in the middle of a disaster caused by the collapsing of a Norwegian fjord into the water body below. This creates a huge enormous wave that is more than 85 meters high and crushes everything into nothingness as it gushes through the land. The movie overall had a very tiny budget but still managed to have the most amazing special effects making your whole experience as a viewer very realistic and vivid.

6. Kajaki (2014)

‘Kajaki’ tells the true stories of young British soldiers who make their way across the dry river bed of the Kajaki Dam to engage with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The story becomes a struggle for their own survival when one of them steps on a mine that was left there almost 25 years ago by the Russian intervention. When they rush to the aid of the injured soldier they find out that they’re completely surrounded by many such mines and even the smallest moves in any direction can prove to be fatal for them.

5. The Survivalist (2015)

In one way or the other, the quote “survival of the fittest” still holds true in this modern world. ‘The Survivalist’ is set in such a world where the protagonist, in order to survive, either needs to kill or get killed by someone who is “fitter”. In times of great famine, a man lives off his small piece of land buried deep in the forest. But his peace in this isolated land is disturbed when two women come looking out for food and prove to be a threat to his life. The movie is intense and manages to portray the extent to which one may be willing to go in order to survive and all of this has been perfectly executed with a very low budget.

4. Sand Castle (2017)

Based on a true story, Sand Castle is a war drama that tells the story of a group of soldiers who were sent to a nearby village to fix a problem with the water supply there. But the simple task of water transportation and providing plumbing and infrastructure that supports the cause becomes a struggle for survival in a brutal war zone. The movie is a raw and accurate representation of an actual war scenario without the overdramatization of self-reflection and problems of the main characters, which most war dramas do.

3. Solo (2018)

The plot of this one is very similar to that of 127 hours. This film, too, is a true story of survival and near death experience of a surfer who accidentally slides down a dune and crashes into the ocean, breaking his hip and injuring his head. I believe that the people who know that they’re going to die soon start looking back and contemplating life to reflect upon all the things and people they took for granted. This is also a common stature for most “do or die” situation kind of films and that’s why it feels so familiar.

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2. How It Ends (2018)

Starring Theo James and Forest Whitaker, this one cannot really be ranked as one of the best but it’s still there on Netflix if you’re in the mood for some survival action movies and have watched almost all the others. The movie is slow and light unlike other movies of this genre and will not make you anxious at all. It’s just a time killing story of a man who tries to reach home in a post-apocalyptic world so that he can be with his fiancee again. Watch this one with no high hopes and also with the sole intention of passing your time.

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1. Swiss Army Man (2016)

This movie is one of its kind. Starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, the film revolves around the story of Hank who lives all alone on an abandoned island. Being on the verge of ending his life, Hank finds new purpose when a dead body washes ashore on the beach one day. The dead body that later shows weird abilities and even talks quite a lot becomes Hank’s new buddy just how Tom Hanks befriends his imaginarily personified football “Wilson” in Castaway.  But this movie is nothing like ‘Castaway’ and is just about a fun and hilarious journey of two friends who set out to go back home. This one may not entirely fit the survival genre, being so non-serious compared to the other films, but still qualifies as a more humorous comedy than most films in the category, floating just a little above of being qualified as a parody.

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