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The best post-apocalyptic movies you can watch on Netflix right now

It can be easy to feel like the world is ending if you pay attention to the... well, everything that's going on in it. Partisan politics, global pandemics, dogs and cats living together. We understand that it's a lot. It's rarely consolation to say this, but things could certainly be worse.

"How could things possibly be worse?" you may ask (go ahead and say it out loud; it will help you picture it) in this figurative scenario. Well, we've got just the answer for you.

If you want to take comfort in the idea of "at least our end of the world isn't that bad," you should probably feast your eyes on some post-apocalyptic movies. Luckily, Netflix has got plenty of solid options available if you want to watch people banding together to survive after the world has fallen to pieces. 

Bird Box

Remember the Bird Box Challenge? We would say it's one of the stupider viral challenges that has come along, but there are just so many. The challenge involved blindfolding yourself and trying to do things — from simple things like navigating your backyard to extremely bad ideas like trying to drive a car.

The challenge came from the Netflix-produced film Bird Box, based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. It shows some of the world before civilization fell, but the movie mostly takes place after a vast majority of the world's population has died out. Monsters have invaded our world — monsters that drive people insane if they catch even a glimpse of them. The last few survivors live in homes with blacked-out windows, strapping blindfolds on whenever they need to venture out for supplies.

The movie stars Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich and Sarah Paulson, and features some really intense scenes and fun set pieces. There are some logical leaps, but Bird Box is a darn entertaining romp — especially considering that it deals with such dreary subject matter.

It Comes at Night

Is there any other Joel Edgerton as good as tragically downbeat Joel Edgerton? It Comes at Night relishes in putting the veteran actor through the ringer, and the film does a great job of making you question what is really going on and who you can actually trust. It makes the most of its tiny cast and minimalist setting, and allowing the viewer's imagination to run wild and fill in the scariest blanks.

It Comes at Night focuses on a family of three — Paul, Sarah and Travis — living in a remote cabin. A horrible and extremely contagious illness has wiped out much of the world population, and the family has a strict set of rules in order to avoid contact with the infected and stay alive. Unfortunately, their strict rules are overturned when another family stumbles across the cabin and asks for their help.

Edgerton is great as Paul, and the rest of the cast has some heavy lifting to do to keep the tension high in It Comes at Night. This is one of those films where you just know everything is going to go wrong, and anticipation of the hammer dropping is almost as thrilling as when it all goes sideways.

Here Alone

Here Alone is a post-apocalyptic film that emphasizes the feelings of isolation and lack of trust that go hand-in-hand with the fall of civilization. Here, an illness similar to a zombie virus sweeps through the world, killing off most of the human population and driving the survivors into hiding. It focuses on a woman named Ann (Lucy Walters) who lives alone in the woods and struggles to keep hope alive as she searches for any hint that other people are out there.

She finds a man and his daughter, who she initially does not trust. However, as circumstances continue to keep them together, that distrust begins to deteriorate — at least between Ann and Chris. Chris' daughter, Olivia, isn't a huge fan of how close her dad is getting to the woman they've met.

Here Alone has some great tension and does a good job using flashbacks to fill in the backstory of the different characters. Lucy Walters is great in it.

Automata

If you're not in the mood for a viral post-apocalypse, maybe we can introduce you to a natural disaster followed by a distrust of technology. That's the atmosphere put forth by Automata, and the fun cast does a great job of selling the audience on the horrible realities of the film's world.

In Automata, solar flares kill off nearly every human on Earth in the near future. The surviving humans come together and build robots that they hope can stop the rapid deterioration of the planet. However, these robots do little to stop the rapid climate change as the entire planet slowly becomes a desert. Our main characters soon start believing that maybe the robots they've built, called Pilgrims, may be up to something different than what their original programming called for.

Automata boasts a cast that includes Antonio Banderas, Dylan McDermott, and Melanie Griffith. It's also got Javier Bardem voicing a robot. It's a high concept that doesn't always work, but the strong cast keeps you interested in where the plot is headed.

How It Ends

How It Ends probably qualifies more as a disaster movie than a post-apocalyptic one, but it ticks a lot of the same boxes. This Netflix original is something of a grounded, more "real world" type of Mad Max, as the movie at its core is essentially a roadtrip through an apocalyptic Earth. It's a post-apocalyptic buddy road trip with Forest Whitaker and the guy from Divergent! What more could you want?

How It Ends follows a man named Will (Theo James), who sets out on a cross-country road trip to rescue the woman he loves after a series of cataclysmic events. He teams up with Tom (Whitaker), his girlfriend's dad, and the duo try to make it from Chicago to Seattle. In their way is a host of outlaws and panicked people, trying to make sense of what has happened to the world.

Blame!

If you'd like some stylish animation with your post-apocalypse, you should give Blame! a shot. It's a Netflix-produced film based on the manga of the same name (pronounced "blam," not "blame"), and it gives off some of the same vibes as Terminator and The Matrix — in the best ways.

The story goes like this: the AI system that humanity has used to reach its zenith has gone rogue, and started replicating itself and exterminating humanity. A few small groups of survivors exist. Many of them are just trying to eke out an existence, but a few are actively trying to fight back against the technology that is hunting them. The action centers on a man named Killy, who may just be the weapon humanity needs to retake the world.

Blame! actually has a decent dub, but rest assured that Netflix also offers the original Japanese language track with English subtitles.

The Worthy

Post-apocalyptic movies may be a dime a dozen in the United States, but they're a rarer breed in Middle Eastern cinema. In fact, The Worthy attracted a lot of attention upon its release for this very reason. It does an awful lot with a relatively small budget, and it's a good way to get a fresh perspective on a well-trod genre.

In The Worthy, the world's water supply has been almost entirely contaminated, killing most of the population. It was poisoned by a political group to silence their enemies, but things got out of hand and nearly everyone died because of it. The plot centers on a small group of survivors who have found a clean source of water in an abandoned factory. As word gets out that the group has access to clean water, all sorts of raiders come knocking.

The Worthy deals with themes similar to many post apocalyptic films, but seeing it from the perspective of a culture that rarely touches the genre is fascinating. Go in open minded and we think you'll find a lot to like.

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer has got a lot of good going for it. There's the phenomenal cast, headed up by names like Chris Evans, Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, and Parasite's Kang-ho Song. Speaking of Parasite, it's director Bong Joon-ho's first ever English-language film. It's also extremely slick, based on the classic French graphic novel. That's a lot to like right there.

Snowpiercer is dense and determined to get its audience thinking; like Parasite, it deals in symbols of the class structure and social constructs of our own world. The basic premise is this: the world has entered another ice age, and the last remnants of humanity are on a massive train that continually travels the globe. The train is segregated by class — the rich are in the lavish front cars, while poorer residents are pushed towards the back. Eventually, a few of the people in the back of the train lead a revolt, and their push towards the engine sets off some wild revelations.

Like many of Bong Joon-ho's films, Snowpiercer gets absolutely bonkers by the end. Check it out.

The Matrix Trilogy

If you want to get hype for the long-awaited fourth film in The Matrix series, you can actually catch all three installments of the original trilogy on Netflix. The first film hardly plays out as a post-apocalyptic movie, as most of the main action takes place within an elaborate computer simulation. As the films go on, though, we start to see more and more of the real world as our band of heroes fights to bring humanity back from the brink.

If you don't know, The Matrix tells the story of humanity enslaved by artificial intelligence. The real world is run by machines, and humans are kept in stasis pods to provide energy for those machines. Our minds live on in a computer simulation, with most of humanity not even aware that their world is a lie. Enter Keanu Reeves.

Reeves plays Neo, who is awakened by a small group of resistance fighters to free humanity as a Christ-like savior. The Matrix has some serious religious undertones, a handful of big philosophical ideas, and plenty of downright revolutionary action sequences. It's also got a killer cast — Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss, and Hugo Weaving are just the tip of the iceberg.

Cargo

Cargo is a fascinating beast. It's a zombie movie, but the zombies don't play a big part in the overall proceedings. It's a fairly low-budget affair, featuring several unknown actors and two first-time directors. On the other hand, the project is anchored by a lead performance from Bilbo Baggins himself, Martin Freeman. It's an Australian film about the end of the world and just what people can do to survive as everything comes crashing down.

Cargo focuses on a family — Andy (Freeman), Kay (Susie Porter), and their baby Rosie — who live on a houseboat off the coast of mainland Australia. The rest of the country has been overrun by a virus that transforms its victims into zombies, so Andy and Kay only venture off the boat when they need supplies. When something goes wrong on one of their expeditions, it becomes a race against time as they try to find somewhere safe for their baby to have a chance.

Cargo is based on the directors' previous short film of the same name, and Freeman, Porter and newcomer Simone Landers really bring it as the emotional linchpin of the film. It's a brutal but ultimately uplifting watch.

Into the Forest

Into the Forest is a movie that was destined to sink or swim on its two lead performances — there are other actors in it, but the two sisters at the film's center are the driving forces behind nearly every scene. Luckily, they're two of the best actors in the business: Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, each delivering dynamic performances in this creepy and thoughtful end-of-the-world film.

Without giving too much away, here's the basic premise: Wood and Page play Eva and Nell, two sisters who live in a remote cabin with their father, a widower named Robert (Callum Keith Rennie). They aren't totally off the grid, however, until the power goes out and doesn't come back on. Soon, they start hearing rumors that power is out for the entire country, and possibly the world.

There's a lot of mystery in Into the Forest, but it's a movie that's less concerned with what has happened than it is with characters responding to it. It's quiet, thoughtful, and anchored by two powerhouse performances. Give it a go if you want something a little different from your standard post-apocalyptic fare.

The Rover

So many post-apocalyptic movies focus on a small group dealing with a new normal, which means a key component to finding success in the genre is a few strong leads. That's something The Rover has no problem with, as it boasts both Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in its lead roles. It's also an early film from distributor A24, which has made quite a name for itself with intense, daring indie productions.

The Rover is set in the near future, when an economic collapse has plunged the world into chaos. In the Australian outback, law is virtually nonexistent, and gangs essentially travel the wastes, looting and killing as they please. One group steals the car of a man named Eric (Pearce), a former soldier who sets out on a quest for revenge against.

The Rover is propped on the back of its two leads, and they are more than able to carry the load. Both Pearce and Pattinson do some great work here, delivering a film that you'll probably think you have figured out before a new twist rears its head.