Disaster movies strike to me as the ones with the depictions of large scale destruction – either natural or otherwise. Of late, filmmakers are resorting mostly to alien invasion stories, zombie attacks, earthquake, tsunami, flood or space catastrophes. To me, even many war movies would classify as disaster movies, given the mass eradication of resources – animate and inanimate alike shown in such movies.
Speaking of natural disasters, mother nature can be truly beautiful and inspiring; however, she can also be terrifying. From hurricanes to avalanches, the world is constantly threatened by calamities. Man-made disasters are equally rampant these days, given the mass destruction of the planet that is being carried out. And the possibilities are that these mass destructions will eventually lead to the end of the human race. With all that said, here’s the list of really good disaster movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
21. Aftershock (2012)
A group of tourists is partying in an underground nightclub in Santiago (Chile) when a massive earthquake hits the city. The group seeks shelter after possible replicas and a warning of a tsunami. However, a nearby prison collapses and its dangerous criminals suddenly escape. Now, they must try to stay together and survive not only mother nature but also their own kind. If you are looking for a dark disaster film with a horror atmosphere, ‘Aftershock’ is the movie to watch.
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20. The Hurricane Heist (2018)
Picture this — a hurricane in the past, another hurricane 26 years later and a heist happening in the backdrop. Set in Alabama, a destructive hurricane named Tammy is approaching the town. Breeze Rutledge, who lost his father 26 years ago in a similar category five hurricane, is working under a treasury agent named Casey Corbyn. While Breeze is out of the treasury facility to fix the generator, rogue agent Connor Perkins and his team infiltrate the treasury and resolve to steal $600 million away. As they’re unable to open the vault, they take Breeze hostage with them until they could find a way out. Classified as an overblown action thriller, ‘The Hurricane Heist’ mostly received negative reviews for being factually and logically inconsistent. Watch it at your own risk!
19. The Rezort (2015)
A zombie apocalypse horror flick at the very outset, ‘The Rezort’ is set in a period when humans have summarily won the war against zombies and now they kill zombies for fun at an amusement resort, hence the name. The film revolves around a not-so-amicable couple, a war veteran, a bunch of teenagers and a single woman. The group is the newest lot of guests who want to “kill” the undead for fun. After one of the members enters the control room and alters something, there’s a chain reaction of events leading to a fiasco. Now, humanity is staring at a fresh outbreak again, thanks to some overly curious minds. ‘The Rezort’, though, has some thought process behind it. It still cannot be classified as a compelling blockbuster, but it makes for a one-time fun watch.
18. Beyond Skyline (2017)
This movie is a sequel to a 2010 film titled ‘Skyline’. ‘Beyond Skyline’ opens amid an alien invasion when LAPD detective Mark Corley is vying for the release of his son from jail. As the invasion starts, people are sucked into various spaceships, one at a time, and Mark along with a group of survivors are meandering in the subway tunnels across the city. Despite his efforts to protect people from getting sucked in, they eventually land inside the alien spaceship when Mark discovers that they’re being converted into bio-mechanical soldiers for a greater cause. Although ‘Beyond Skyline’ may not promise the edge-of-the-seat thrill like many other invasion movies, it still is way better than its predecessor in terms of its narrative, which makes it a nearly enjoyable alien invasion disaster flick.
17. The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
From disasters inside water to disasters in space again, this time in a parallel universe, ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ aimed at capitalizing its extremely successful ‘Cloverfield’ franchise, but couldn’t equal its predecessors despite having a lot of promising twists and turns and a somewhat compelling story. Also, the movie bears no connection with its predecessors to start with. It begins with a group of astronauts who are on board a space station in 2028 as Earth is undergoing a global energy crisis. In desperate attempts to test the Shepherd particle accelerator aboard the Cloverfield station, disaster strikes, thus leading to a paradox, meaning the threats of the parallel universe may pose a looming danger to the existing world as we know it. The movie received mostly unfavourable reviews from critics.
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16. Here Alone (2016)
In the dystopian future, an airborne epidemic has wiped out the populace. One year later, Ann is still struggling to survive amid scarce resources. In the past, she had a daughter, a husband and she remembers her past life in flashbacks throughout the movie. With a looming danger of attack from infected undead or unknown, Ann tries to seek shelter wherever she could. She meets an injured man named Chris and his daughter Olivia and at once is reminded of her own family and her husband and daughter. While she initially finds it difficult to trust the family, they must soon find a place to stay. An eventual attack happens and Ann and Olivia are the only survivors. ‘Here Alone’ got mostly polarized reviews from critics; a few called it intense and satisfying, while others thought it was cliched. Your take?
15. 47 Meters Down (2017)
What happens when you don’t have to do something, but decide to do it anyway just for fun, thus resulting in a disaster? ’47 Meters Down’ is one such story. Two sisters — Lisa and Kate — are holidaying in Mexico. They meet a few men in a local pub and the group decides to go shark watching from a suspended underwater cage. See, told you! Lisa and Kate are the first to try out their experience and they enter a metal cage that is suspended underwater. As soon as the cage is lowered into the water, the suspender cable breaks and they are stuck 47 meters below the sea on the seabed, amid sharks, and their oxygen is running out. ’47 Meters Down’ offers a nail-biting thrill, albeit short-lived, and decent performances.
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14. Extinction (2018)
Featuring Michael Pena, ‘Extinction’ is one of the latest additions of Netflix based out on an alien invasion leading to disastrous consequences. The movie opens in the near future, where an engineer named Peter is having nightmares about an alien invasion that could lead to the destruction of life. Upon his visit to a psychiatrist, he finds other people are also having similar visions. After spaceships arrive and cause substantial damage to the city, Peter and his family head out to seek shelter amid enemy alien soldiers on the prowl. It is later revealed that Alice, Peter’s wife, is an AI humanoid and the only way to save her is a source of power that is Peter himself, who, too, is an AI, known as synths. Turns out, synths were wiped off their memories and have been residing on the planet as humans ever since the human rebellion against the synths. ‘Extinction’ is good in parts, and I personally watched it only for Michael Pena. What about you?
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13. Abandoned (2015)
A TV movie based out on a true survival story after an unexpected disaster, ‘Abandoned’ is set in 1989 when a trimaran named Rose Noelle has sailed from New Zealand to Tonga with four men aboard it. The disaster strikes when after a massive wave, the boat capsizes and they have no other option left but to wander off the sea directionless unless they find themselves ashore. For the next 119 days, the four men struggle to survive amid the paucity of resources, food and water and impending death that’s staring at them. After 119 days, they breathe a sigh of relief after landing up near the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. ‘Abandoned’ is a tense, gripping thriller but at some points, it may feel like we’ve already seen this in many movies and television shows. Yet, a decent one-time watch.
12. Spectral (2016)
I liked this movie for two reasons — for its intriguing, fresh premise and the CGI. ‘Spectral’ opens amid an ongoing war wherein the troops have been using the hyperspectral goggles, allowing them to see those beings not visible to the naked eye. A translucent, humanoid figure that they spot is able to kill with a mere touch, thus posing a newer challenge in front of them. CIA officer Fran Madison and DARPA scientist Clyne then set their troops out with hyperspectral imaging cameras to track down the “invisible” and invincible insurgents. They later find out that the insurgents cannot see through ceramic and are vulnerable to iron nails, thus giving the human troops an added advantage. ‘Spectral’ is an audacious attempt to match those big budget thrillers but somewhat lags behind in its overall execution. Still, it is one of the best movies on this list.
11. Bird Box (2018)
The latest movie on this list, ‘Bird Box’ is perhaps one of the most successful Netflix releases of the year, given the fact that it resembles the likes of ‘World War Z’ or any apocalypse movie for that matter. The film begins with a pregnant Malorie and her sister who’re heading out to the hospital amid news of people killing themselves following an epidemic. While driving back home, Malorie’s sister “sees” something, thus killing herself. The spread of the epidemic is rampant, with hundreds committing suicide. Malorie takes shelter in a nearby home which has many others.
After a fallout and five years later, Malorie, along with Malorie’s son and a daughter of another woman and Tom, a man she had met, are learning their ropes by blindfolding themselves and doing chores so that they don’t kill themselves. When insurgents hit and Tom kills himself, Malorie and the kids must head out on a journey down the river to a safer place. As they reach, they find that all the others in the place are blind, thus making them survivors. ‘Bird Box’ boasts of a powerful performance from Sandra Bullock, along with a thrilling narrative that would keep you hooked on to the screen.
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10. Pandora (2016)
Pyung-Sub is worried about the conditions of the local nuclear power plant, but no one seems to listen to him. However, when an earthquake strikes, it severely damages the power plant and begins to spread panic. Now, young Jae-Hyeok and his colleagues must prevent another nuclear disaster. ‘Pandora’ is not only a thrilling disaster movie but also an emotional one, thanks to the script. With good visual effects and decent cinematography, director Jong-woo Park is able to deliver a tear-jerking story with a sense of reality.
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9. Train to Busan (2016)
In what could be one of the most defining, cornerstone zombie movies of all time, ‘Train to Busan’ is set mostly in a train which is going from Seoul to Busan. The movie revolves around the people inside the train and how their lives are interconnected amid an imminent zombie apocalypse. It opens with Seok-Woo, a widowed father who is heading to Busan to meet his young daughter, along with other passengers of the train, including another husband and his pregnant wife, a baseball team etc. The departure of the train also marks the beginning of the outbreak, from a lady working on the train to almost everyone, save the protagonists. Their only motive is to reach Busan safely, where apparently a safe zone has been set up, while all the city stations and cities in between are already in ruins because of the apocalyptic event.
‘Train to Busan’ is a promising, riveting entertainer that is going to take you by surprise and boasts of strong performances. It apparently borrows its inspiration from Brad Pitt’s ‘World War Z’.
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8. Rim Of The World (2019)
A Netflix original film directed by McG, ‘Rim Of The World’, has clear vibes of ‘Stranger Things‘ in its story and production values. The film follows the aesthetics of the 1980s films about children’s adventures. The film gets its name from a summer camp in the story which is happening in Southern California.
Three young boys, Zhenzhen, Alex, and Dariush, and a juvenile delinquent called Gabriel are the protagonists of the story. While deep inside the jungle, they suddenly notice army fighter planes are busy fighting invading alien ships in the sky. A pod from the International Space Station lands nearby, and from it emerges a woman who hands Alex a key and tells him that it is with this key that the alien army can be destroyed. This key supposedly activates a defense project known as the Excalibur. With no adult to help them and very little time in hand, the four youngsters embark on an adventure which sees them face numerous difficulties along the way. The film is a good attempt, but its writing is rather cheesy and the tropes used are also pretty run-of-the-mill.
7. Tunnel (2016)
A South Korean disaster film, ‘Tunnel’ is a story about a car salesman who finds himself in a life-threatening situation while traveling home for his daughter’s birthday. The man in question, Lee Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo) is driving inside a tunnel on a mountain when the entire structure collapses on his car. Buried inside all the metal and concrete, Lee has with him his cell phone, some water, and the cake he had bought for his daughter’s birthday. As the rescue workers try to rescue him as fast as possible, time is something that is not on Lee’s side at the moment. The film is brilliantly paced, and works like a solid thriller, keeping the audiences on the edge of their seats for its entire running time. The central character is so well-written that it doesn’t take long for the audience to root for him and hope against everything to see him survive this disaster.
6. Dante’s Peak (1997)
A Pierce Brosnan starrer, ‘Dante’s Peak’ is a unique disaster movie set in the eponymous town in the northwestern part of America. Brosnan plays the role of Harry Dalton, a volcanologist who visits the town on reports of some strange natural phenomena in the area. The vegetation has almost dried up, and there is a high acidic content in the water. Harry even witnesses a couple who have boiled to death in a hot spring. All these signs point towards one thing- there is a dormant volcano underneath the town which is slowly turning active and may erupt at any moment now. Will Harry be able to warn the townsfolk and prevent hundreds of deaths before the eruption takes place? The dialogs and characters in the film may not be that impressive, but it must be said that ‘Dante’s Peak’ is a highly entertaining watch.
5. Poseidon (2006)
Based on the book ‘The Poseidon Adventures’ by Paul Gallico, this 2006 film failed to impress both the critics and the audiences. Starring actors like Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, and others, the story of ‘Poseidon’ centers around the eponymous luxury cruiser ship which is struck by a massive wave on New Year’s Eve when a gala party has just begun on it. The massive wave causes the ship to flip and it slowly starts sinking. The passengers now have to get out of the ship as fast as possible if they wish to avoid certain death.
‘Poseidon’ is among the few films to have received both a Razzie and an Oscar nomination. The screenplay of the film does lack a certain vigor, but must be said that ‘Poseidon’ works rather well when it comes to the scenes with special effects. The use of CGI is spectacular considering the time in which it was made.
4. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (2016)
This 2016 teen-comedy film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before being released for worldwide audiences. Dash and Assaf, two high school sophomores, are the leading characters of the film. The story follows their lives as the only two writers for their school magazine. The friendship between Dash and Assaf hits a rough patch when the editors of the magazine start assigning solo projects to Assaf. Not being able to control his jealousy, Dash starts writing humiliating pieces about his friend in the magazine itself. It is during one of his researches for an article he is about to write that Dash comes across the fact that the school does not exactly follow the guidelines when it comes to safety measures in case of earthquakes. Nobody is ready to believe his claims, but when an earthquake does occur, there is not much that the school authorities can do to save the students.
The animation used in this film is highly innovative and it is for this reason only that ‘My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea’ deserves a watch. The way director Dash Shaw blends a teen comedy along with a disaster story is also appreciable.
3. How It Ends (2018)
David M. Rosenthal is the director of this Netflix original film starring Theo James, Kat Graham, and Forest Whittaker. James and Graham play a couple, Will and Samantha, who plan on getting married after Sam gets pregnant. Will decides that he should travel to Chicago and ask for Sam’s father’s permission to marry his daughter. When Will is about to return from his visit, the news announces that all flights have been canceled as mysterious occurrences have been detected in the sky. In such a state, Will and Tom (Whittaker, Sam’s father) decide to travel together to Seattle so as to not leave Sam alone in such a perilous time. The weather discrepancies which are happening are mainly the aftereffects of an apocalyptic phenomenon that has hit the world. In such a dangerous time, the journey of two men for the girl they both love is the central narrative of the film.
Though the plot looks interesting on paper, the way it is executed leaves a lot to be desired. There is nothing unexpected that happens in this film’s plot or character-wise. If a disaster film is based on two characters’ journey, they at least have to be written in such a fashion that it evokes some sort of empathy from the audience. Still, a good one-time watch!
2. Io (2019)
Margaret Qualley did come to the limelight after her role in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood‘, but do you know she has been the star of a Netflix film in 2019 itself? The science fiction film ‘IO’ sees Qualley playing the role of Sam Welden, a scientist who continues to live on the earth long after it has been rendered uninhabitable. Most of humanity has evacuated the earth and now have settled down on a moon of Jupiter called IO. Welden, however, is determined to come up with a plan to make the earth liveable once again. She sends out a radio transmission, hoping there will be someone else on the earth and is visited by a man called Micah (Anthony Mackie). Micah, however, is of the opinion that all hope is lost and he also plans to leave the earth as soon as possible.
The film’s premise is rather interesting, but a lot more could have been depicted regarding the condition of the earth after the apocalypse occurs. There are some inconsistencies in the script, but the fact cannot be denied that Qualley and Mackie have both put on impressive performances in their respective characters.
1. ARQ (2016)
If natural gas and fossil fuels finally dry up or get depleted, it would be nothing short of a life-threatening disaster for humans, and this is exactly the premise upon which this science fiction film directed by Tony Elliott. In such a situation when oil has been depleted, giant corporations are now fighting against governments for the last remaining oil supplies. The solution to the energy crisis is with one man, an engineer called Renton who has a machine that can be the source of unlimited energy. We find Renton trapped inside a house along with the machine as many masked assailants are closing in on the location.
There is another major problem that is plaguing Renton- the machine that is with him has created a time loop, and so Renton has to relive the same day over and over again. A disaster film within the tropes of a surreal thriller, ‘ARQ’ hits the notes in the right places in this film. It wraps up the loose ends neatly and becomes a complete entertainer.
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