In the world of fiction, the apocalypse has always been one event of particular fascination. Whether exploring the collapse of civilisation, environmental disasters, or extraterrestrial threats, apocalyptic films provide a gripping lens through which we can examine the fragility of human existence. And Netflix is home to many stellar apocalyptic cinematic gems.
After all, these stories force us to confront our deepest fears while offering a thrilling escape into hypothetical versions of our world on the brink of annihilation. As we navigate our own turbulent times, the appeal of apocalypse films has only grown, providing both a cathartic release and a mirror to our collective anxieties.
Keeping in theme with this week’s biggest release on Netflix, Sam Esmail’s Leave the World Behind, we have curated a list of five essential films that offer dystopic catharsis on-screen.
So, grab your popcorn, dim the lights, and immerse yourself in these tales of survival and catastrophe this weekend.
Five essential films to binge on Netflix this weekend:
Leave the World Behind (2023)
Directed by Sam Esmail, Leave the World Behind is a recently released film that thrusts audiences into the heart of a crisis during a seemingly idyllic family vacation on Long Island.
When two strangers bring news of a blackout, the two families must grapple with the impending threat and make life-altering decisions to navigate the collapsing world around them. The film stars Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la, and Kevin Bacon.
Don’t Look Up (2021)
Directed by Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up is a darkly comedic yet relevant take on the apocalyptic genre.
The film follows two astronomers, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, who discover a comet hurtling towards Earth with the potential to wipe out all life. As they embark on a media tour to alert the world, they face everything from scepticism and apathy to obnoxious political conspiracies. With its satirical commentary on society’s response to impending doom, Don’t Look Up serves as a rather poignant reflection on the challenges of addressing global crises.
Bird Box (2018)
Based on Josh Malerman’s novel, Bird Box takes viewers on a nerve-wracking journey in a world plagued by mysterious entities that drive people to madness and suicide when you look at them.
Sandra Bullock’s character, Malorie, must navigate this scary world blindfolded to protect herself and her children. The film explores the psychological toll of survival and the lengths to which individuals will go to endure in the face of the unknown, making it a gripping addition to the apocalypse genre.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
While this is more of a post-apocalypse film, Blade Runner 2049 offers a dystopian vision of the future where environmental collapse, societal decay, and the quest for humanity’s survival are central themes.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film follows a blade runner, played by Ryan Gosling, as he unravels a mystery that could alter the course of humanity. With stunning visuals and a story that deep dives into existential questions, Blade Runner 2049 is a must-watch.
Directed by Roland Emmerich, 2012 is a disaster film that envisions a world on the brink of destruction due to cataclysmic natural disasters brought upon by human greed. As global leaders race to ensure humanity’s survival, the film explores the resilience and ruthlessness of the human spirit and the sacrifices made in the face of impending doom.
While embracing the spectacle of destruction, 2012 taps into our primal fears and showcases the indomitable will to survive against impossible odds. Plus, there is John Cusack playing an ordinary dad and a limo driver who does some epic driving and car flipping to get his family to safety.