51 Best Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age:
What They Are, Who’s in Them, and Where to Watch Them

The apocalyptic sub-genre has a special place under the sci-fi umbrella. Most films in the category offer fascinating (if not farfetched) narrative about how the world will end, yet they also deliver somewhat positive conclusions, like a light at the end of the tunnel. In many of them, humanity is depicted as being on the edge of extinction, but then determination and perseverance punch back to whatever threat lies ahead. Throughout the last two decades or so, some of the best apocalyptic movies of the modern age are as follows.

The Wandering Earth (2019)

Cast:Jing Wu, Chuxiao Qu, Guangjie Li, Man-Tat Ng
Where to Watch:Netflix

A major success in China, The Wandering Earth tells the story of a group of scientists in their attempt to move the Earth further away from the sun while avoiding a collision with Jupiter.

These Final Hours (2013)

Cast:Jessica De Gouw, Nathan Phillips, David Field
Where to Watch:Peacock TV

Australia has only about 12 hours before a firestorm burns the entire continent to ashes due to a comet strike. The film follows James, who finds himself in a life-changing situation with lots of decision making to do.  

This Is the End (2013)

Cast:James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel
Where to Watch:Netflix

A group of celebrities portrays the exaggerated versions of themselves in the middle of uncertainties about a possible global catastrophe. It is a comedy filled with quite few social messages. 

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Cast:Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt
Where to Watch:Starz Play Amazon

Dodge tries to reconnect with a lost love with a big help from Penny before an asteroid hits the Earth. The two meet with other people who deal with the certain destruction using their own unique ways amidst a looming apocalypse.

Melancholia (2011)

Cast:Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Alexander Skarsgård
Where to Watch:HBO Max

A planet known as Melancholia is on a collision course with the Earth. The news about the inevitable calamity interrupts a bride’s wedding reception. It is the end of the world meets chronic depression.

Take Shelter (2011)

Cast:Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Tova Stewart
Where to Watch:Apple TV

Curtis LaForche believes that an apocalyptic event is about to happen, but no one else does. His obsession with building a storm shelter leads him to all sorts of trouble.

Retreat (2011)

Cast:Cillian Murphy, Jamie Bell, Thandiwe Newton, Jimmy Yuill, Marilyn Mantle
Where to Watch:Tubi TV

A soldier shows up at the doorstep of a couple to inform them that an airborne disease has decimated the world. All three of them must now stay inside until the atmosphere is clean again. 

Legion (2010)

Cast:Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton, Lucas Black
Where to Watch:Starz Play Amazon

Michael the Archangel breaks rank and takes side with humans amidst an apocalypse. He will be at the forefront of a battle against terrifying forces to save the world and humanity.

The Road (2009)

Cast:Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall
Where to Watch:Vudu

An adaptation of a novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, The Road is about a man and his son in a survival journey during the aftermath of an extinction event.  

Daybreakers (2009)

Cast:Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Isabel Lucas
Where to Watch:HBO Max

A plague has transformed most of the human population into vampires. Since the remaining humans wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the hunger, the vampires themselves must develop a cure.

Knowing (2009)

Cast:Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson
Where to Watch:Pluto TV

A note kept inside an elementary school time capsule, written by a mysterious former student, contains strange combination of numbers. An MIT astrophysics professor thinks the numbers predict the time and date of upcoming disasters.

Sunshine (2007)

Cast:Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis
Where to Watch:Apple TV

When the sun dies, all planets in the solar system – including Earth – will go down with it. Some brave scientists will make the journey to get as close as they can to the surface of the sun and re-ignite the massive star with a bomb. 

Children of Men (2006)

Cast:Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine
Where to Watch:Hulu

A global infertility crisis has put humanity on the brink of extinction. A pregnant woman may hold the key to the future of human civilization. Before that, she must be transported to a secure research facility.

Right at Your Door (2006)

Cast:Mary McCormack, Rory Cochrane, Tony Perez, Scotty Noyd Jr., Max Kasch, Jon Huertas, Will McCormack
Where to Watch:Tubi TV

News on the radio says that Los Angeles has been reduced to ruins by dirty bombs. Everyone is advised to let no one in and out of the house. A man must decide whether to allow his wife to enter the home or keep her outside. 

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Cast:Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok
Where to Watch:HBO Max

A small group of survivors have to burn books in the New York Public Library just to stay warm. The outside temperature has reached a point where no human can withstand the cold. 

War of the Worlds (2005)

Cast:Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto
Where to Watch:Paramount Plus

It is an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ book, The War of the Worlds, by Stephen Spielberg. The film explores a typical premise of alien invasion to Earth. Released in 2005, it remains an essential CGI milestone in the film industry.

28 Weeks Later (2007)

Cast:Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots
Where to Watch:HBO Max

If 28 Days Later delivers a hopeful ending, the 2007 follow-up movie depicts the world as a lost cause. Most humans have changed into aggressive mindless killers. There is possibly a cure, but research is unlikely now that the virus has spread to Continental Europe. 

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)

Cast:Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Fisayo Akinade, Anamaria Marinca
Where to Watch:Roku Channel

Loosely based on a novel by M. R. Carey, The Girl with All the Gifts focuses on Melanie, a girl who seems to have developed a limited degree of immunity against a zombie virus outbreak.

Wall-E (2008)

Cast:Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Sigourney Weaver
Where to Watch:Disney Plus

The surface of the Earth is covered with waste. A “Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth-Class” or Wall-E is tasked with the cleanup. On the job, Wall-E meets another robot and they promise to change the fate of humanity.

Noah (2014)

Cast:Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone
Where to Watch:Amazon Prime Video

The film is an adaptation of the biblical story of Noah’s Ark. The film receives quite a lot of criticism for the depiction of prophets, especially in Muslim countries, and due to the heavy use of non-biblical references.

The World’s End (2013)

Cast:Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan
Where to Watch:HBO Max

A pub brawl has to happen just before robots completely take over the town. It is the final film of a trilogy, preceded by Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

Contagion (2011)

Cast:Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow
Where to Watch:Tubi TV

A lethal virus is spreading rapidly throughout the world. Characters in the film are trying whatever they can to help stop the decimation of human civilization. Contagion receives praise from scientists for its accuracy in depicting a worldwide pandemic.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Cast:Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
Where to Watch:Paramount Plus

Monstrous alien invaders have killed most of the human population. The invaders are blind, but they have hypersensitive hearing. A father and a mother have to raise their kids in a quiet world.

Cloverfield (2008)

Cast:Matt Reeves (voice), Michael Stahl-David, T.J. Miller, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas
Where to Watch:fuboTV

An unidentified monster is leaving a trail of devastation as it terrorizes New York City. Cloverfield is presented from the point of view of survivors on the run for their lives.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)

Cast:Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Olivia Colman
Where to Watch:Netflix

It is a combination of 3D and 2D animations about a future where intelligent smartphones carry out plans to take over humanity and the world. Beneath everything, The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a family story.

Don’t Look Up (2021)

Cast:Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett
Where to Watch:Netflix

The idea of Don’t Look Up is to present a satire-style apocalyptic film. As the plot progresses, however, many of its messages turn out to be pretty plausible. The looming apocalypse comes closer as a comet approaches the Earth.

2012 (2009)

Cast:John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandiwe Newton
Where to Watch:Sling TV

Massive earthquakes originating in Japan and New Zealand have the potential to wreak havoc on the entire planet. The visual effects are near perfect to build a lasting impact on viewers’ minds.

Armageddon (1998)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: armageddon
Cast:Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler
Where to Watch:HBO Max

The 1998 apocalyptic film might not be strictly “modern” in every sense of the word, but the plotline involving asteroids on a collision course with the Earth and the action sequences can hold up through time well.

Independence Day (1996)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: independence day
Cast:Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
Where to Watch:Hulu

In the same category as Armageddon is a modern classic, Independence Day, in which the United States – and by extension the world – is under threat of alien occupation. A nuclear missile inside the alien mother-ship might solve the problem. 

Annihilation (2018)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: annihilation
Cast:Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Where to Watch:Paramount Plus

A group of soldiers investigates a strange place where plants invade human bodies and the animals evolve into mutants. Some of those animals inherit the traits of their prey, including humans. 

World War Z (2013)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: world war z
Cast:Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale
Where to Watch:Amazon Prime Video

It is yet another film about zombies, but with Brad Pitt in it as a former UN investigator trying to discover a solution to the outbreak. While it has some good action sequences, the suspense and open ending are its biggest selling points.

I Am Legend (2007)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: i am legend
Cast:Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Dash Mihok, Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Where to Watch:HBO Max

Much like World War Z that deviates (too) much from Max Brooks’ novel, I Am Legend also is not entirely truthful to the source material written by Richard Matheson. That said, the film has everything to stand on its own. 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: rise of the planet of the apes
Cast:James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Karin Konoval
Where to Watch:Starz Play Amazon

Chimpanzees are used as mere tools for experimental drugs to treat/cure Alzheimer’s disease. A new drug unexpectedly gives Caesar, one of the subjects, the abilities to think and behave like a human. He rebels.

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: war for the planet of the apes
Cast:Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
Where to Watch:Apple TV

Caesar and his fellow warrior chimpanzees have developed the necessary strength and intelligent to rule the Earth alongside humans. However, equal standing is highly unlikely. It is war. 

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: edge of tomorrow
Cast:Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Where to Watch:Apple TV

Soldiers in a dystopian future take advantage of a time-loop system to fight for their survival. They fight, die, and live again countless times while trying to remember every last detail of their previous deaths.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: shaun of the dead
Cast:Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis
Where to Watch:fuboTV

It is a zombie apocalypse movie that helps bring the zom-rom-com subgenre to a larger audience. A protagonist fights against hordes of the undead not only to survive, but also to save his girlfriend. 

Perfect Sense (2011)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: perfect sense
Cast:Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Denis Lawson
Where to Watch:Amazon Video

Humans develop rapid disorders in which they lose one of their senses at a time. Each loss happens after a severe emotional outburst. The pandemic shows every possibility of turning people into senseless creatures. 

The Rover (2014)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: the rover
Cast:Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy, David Field, Susan Prior, Anthony Hayes
Where to Watch:HBO Max

Killing for survival is an everyday routine in a wasteland that used to be Australia. Lawlessness and poverty run rampant. The Rover is about a man obsessed with finding a car because his dog’s corpse is in it. 

Zombieland (2009)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: zombieland
Cast:Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin
Where to Watch:fuboTV

A young man has come up with his own specific personal guides to improve his chances of survival in a zombie apocalypse. His journey to a find a better place becomes much more dynamic after he bumps into a better-experienced zombie killer.

Pontypool (2008)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: pontypool
Cast:Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly
Where to Watch:AMC+

A virus attacks humans through the English language. The use of certain common words in communication comes with real risk of death. It won’t be long before the virus spreads to England, home to the language.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: mad max fury road
Cast:Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Where to Watch:HBO Max

The world does not end in Mad Max: Fury Road. However, the remaining survivors have formed tribal barbaric communities. Max is caught in the middle of a spectacularly brutal battle over fuel.

Interstellar (2014)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: interstellar
Cast:Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon
Where to Watch:fuboTV

Failing crops and relentless dust storms have made the Earth an inhospitable planet. A scientist must travel through a worm hole to look for an answer and ensure humanity’s survival.

Attack the Block (2011)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: attack the block
Cast:John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost.
Where to Watch:Starz Play Amazon

Several members of a teenage gang put up a fight against alien invaders. Although the aliens have no eyes, they are armed with acute sense of smell and sonar-like echolocation. 

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: dawn of the dead
Cast:Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Jake Weber
Where to Watch:fuboTV

The original Dawn of the Dead (1978), written and directed by George A. Romero, is largely considered one of the greats in sci-fi horror genre. A remake by Zack Snyder is a refreshing take on the classic. 

Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: cockneys vs zombies
Cast:Michelle Ryan, Georgia King, Alan Ford, Harry Treadaway, Richard Briers, Rasmus Hardiker
Where to Watch:Peacock TV

London is flooded with zombies everywhere. The fate of the city, the country, and potentially the rest of the world rests upon the shoulders of bank robbers at the frontline of the battle. 

Immortals (2011)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: immortals
Cast:Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Stephen Dorff
Where to Watch:fuboTV

King Hyperion is a ruthless dictator on the verge of destroying humankind. It is the end of the world from the perspective of Greek mythology. Theseus is chosen by the gods to put a stop to the devastation.

Reign of Fire (2002)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: reign of fire
Cast:Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Izabella Scorupco, Gerard Butler
Where to Watch:Amazon Prime Video

Humans are struggling to re-establish their reign over the planet. Their enemies are not aliens, zombies, advanced chimpanzees, or vampires, but fire-breathing dragons. Some remnants of the army and few survivors team up to bring down the beasts.

The Crazies (2010)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: the crazies
Cast:Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson
Where to Watch:Amazon Video

A widespread incident has turned people into monsters with insatiable appetite for human lives. Only four people in town (and possibly anywhere else) are left unaffected. Thankfully, one of them is the sheriff.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: the cabin in the woods
Cast:Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz
Where to Watch:Apple TV

A spell accidentally summons murderous zombies into a cabin where some college students spend time away during a weekend. Human sacrifices are required, otherwise the monsters shall wipe out humans from existence.

The Mist (2007)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: the mist
Cast:Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher
Where to Watch:Netflix

Bloodthirsty beasts come to surface following a ferocious storm in a small town. Some survivors make a stand for their lives and for the world in a supermarket. 

Bird Box (2018)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: bird box
Cast:Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Danielle Macdonald, Sarah Paulson
Where to Watch:Netflix

An unexplainable force arrives on Earth and anybody who happens to take a glance at it will be compelled to kill themselves. The only way to survive is to keep your eyes closed.

Train to Busan (2016)

Apocalyptic Movies of the Modern Age: train to busan
Cast:Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Su-an, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee
Where to Watch:Peacock TV

A seemingly ordinary train bound for Busan, South Korea, is invaded by a zombie. Soon enough, passengers are either killed or become the undead. The epidemic has spread all across the country.

Don’t you just love apocalyptic movies? We do, too. And there are so many to watch these days. Do you have a favorite end-of-the-world movie? Is it on this list? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

If you liked this, then check out The Movie ARQ: Interpretations, Explanations, and Our Take on a Cool Post-Apocalyptic Story

Other things you might want to know about. 

Best apocalyptic Movies, ranked.

According to movieweb.com here’s an updated ranking of the best apocalyptic movies out today. 

  1. This is the End (2013) – ranking 13/13
  2. Don’t Look Up (2021) – ranking 12/13
  3. The Road (2009) – ranking 11/13
  4. It Comes at Night (2017) – ranking 10/13
  5. The Day After (1983) – ranking 9/13
  6. A Quiet Place (2018) – ranking 8/13
  7. Monkeys (1995) – ranking 7/13
  8. Fail Safe (1964) – ranking 6/13
  9. Melancholia (2011) – ranking 5/13
  10. Children of Men (2006) – ranking 4/13
  11. Wall-E (2008) – ranking 3/13
  12. The Sacrifice (1986) – ranking 2/13
  13. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – ranking 1/13

Go to movieweb.com to read more about these movies and how they were ranked. How do you feel about these rankings? 

What are some of the greatest apocalyptic movies?

According to looper.com here are 10 of the best apocalyptic movies. 

  1. Stalker
  2. Dr. Strangelove or:  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  3. The Thing
  4. Night of the Living Dead
  5. Mad Max: Fury Road
  6. Invasions of the Body Snatchers
  7. Children of Men
  8. Melancholia
  9. The Land Before Time
  10. The Andromeda Strain

Go to looper.com to read more about these movies, the actors, directors, and the Rotten Tomatoes scores. The article is called ‘31 best apocalyptic movies of all time ranked’ and was written by Meg Shields. 

What are the best new post-apocalyptic movies that you can now stream?

According to the vore.com here are the best new post-apocalyptic movies in 2021 and 2022 for streaming. 

  1. Black Crab
  2. Moonfall
  3. Last Man Down
  4. Awake
  5. Songbird
  6. Finch
  7. A Quiet Place: Part 11
  8. Monster Problems
  9. Light of my Life
  10. Ad Astra
  11. The Last Boy
  12. Mortal Engines
  13. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
  14. Luxembourg
  15. I Think We’re Alone Now
  16. It Comes at Night

Go to vore.com to read more details about each of these movies and what streaming channel you can see them.