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The Best Pandemic And Virus Movies On Netflix Right Now

Movies about viruses have always been popular, partly because they give us the opportunity to watch as an armchair expert. We love to see which characters make the right choices, and we love to point the finger at the one naive group or greedy bureaucrat who chooses their own self-interest over stopping the spread. Recent events have seemingly only increased our interest in pandemic movies, and people are streaming content about viruses and illnesses more than ever.

Once you get past the first few well-known movies, however, you might start to flail. Where is a virus-obsessed viewer to turn next? We've got just the thing to cure your content-deprived mind. These are the best pandemic and virus movies that you can stream on Netflix right now. We're trying to stick to more traditional viruses — otherwise this list would be overrun with zombies (not that we won't include a zombie movie or two if they're really exceptional).


Chances are, if you ask someone to name a movie about a viral pandemic, Outbreak will be the first film the snaps to mind. It's got it all: a tremendous cast, serious '90s flair, and some dubious ideas about how medicine works. It's a pretty fantastic watch, as the little quirks and unbelievable bits add to the charm of a well-made virus flick.

Speaking of the cast, Outbreak is a veritable who's who of big name stars. The top billed actors are Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman. Cuba Gooding Jr., Patrick Dempsey, Donald Sutherland, and Kevin Spacey (look, not everything about a movie can age well) round out the supporting cast. That's an impressive array of acting talent onscreen, and they throw themselves into their roles just as you'd expect.

Outbreak is about an Ebola-like virus that jumps from animals to people and threatens to wipe out the human race. It focuses on the doctors attempting to cure the virus before it's too late and, of course, a military operation to cover things up and use the virus for their own gains. It's based on a terrifying nonfiction book called The Hot Zone, if you'd like to be even more terrified of global pandemics.


Carriers was one of those low-budget flicks that was made and then sat on the shelf for a few years before release. Chris Pine is one of the lead roles in the film and, after he hit it big with Star Trek, Paramount decided they would give this little viral film a shot. We're lucky they did, because it's a pretty fun distraction.

Carriers takes place in a world that has been decimated by a viral outbreak. Two brothers (one played by Pine) and a couple friends of theirs (one played by Piper Perabo) come up with a list of rules and set forth on a cross country trip towards a mythical safe haven. Along the way, they encounter plenty of obstacles and people that get in their way. Deciding which rules to break and which to adhere to becomes a major challenge as their trip gets more complicated.

It's the same basic idea as Zombieland, in all honesty. It's tone is vastly different, however — Carriers is bleak and frightening, not a cheeky comedy like Zombieland. Plus, y'know, there are no zombies. Just a deadly virus and some very scary survivors.

Train to Busan

We said we weren't going to let zombie movies invade this list, but Train to Busan gets to be one of the exceptions. We're letting it go for a couple reasons. The main one is that the terrifying spread of the virus (and the hopeless attempts to contain it) are a central point to the film, a poignant detail that many zombie movies skip over. The other reason we're letting it go is because it's just really darn good — one of the best zombie movies we've seen for years.

Train to Busan builds its tension by trapping its characters on board a high speed train with the zombie outbreak. As the train speeds towards its destination, the passengers take more and more drastic action to contain the virus and isolate those who have been infected. Like the train itself, the movie gets moving incredibly fast and never lets up — it's an intense ride from start to finish.

By the time Train to Busan reaches its satisfying ending, you'll be as physically worn out as the last few survivors. Don't miss this terrifying Korean masterpiece. With a sequel on the way, now's the perfect time to see it if you haven't.

It Comes at Night

Some movies do a great job of letting our imaginations do the heavy lifting. It Comes at Night is one such film — it does a great job of ramping up the tension and then letting you imagine the worst, knowing that each person will come up with their own terrors to make the proceedings even scarier. Plus, beardy Joel Edgerton is running around this movie, being sullen. Can't go wrong there.

It Comes at Night is about a family who has isolated themselves in a small cabin to try to ride out a mysterious plague. Like many movies in the pandemic subgenre, these survivors have a collection of rules to keep them safe and alive. As you'd expect, everything is turned upside down when some other survivors stumble across them and ask for help.

It Comes at Night instills paranoia in you, and you know everything is going to go wrong in the worst possible way. The fun of the film is trying to guess how things are going to go sideways before they actually do.


A lot of virus and pandemic movies focus on characters doing whatever they can to avoid becoming infected with whatever is spreading. Cargo does a good job of subverting that formula — the main character, Andy, is not concerned with himself. What he is concerned with is finding a safe place for his infant daughter.

Cargo takes place in Australia, which has been ravaged by a horrible virus. Andy and his family live off the coast on a houseboat, only venturing onto the mainland for supplies. Things go terribly wrong on one such expedition, and Andy takes his infant daughter Rosie on a perilous journey across the wasteland to try to find anywhere they can call home.

Cargo is held together by an impressive performance from Martin Freeman, who does an excellent job of making the audience care about his plight. It was made by a first time directing duo and there are a lot of up and coming actors in it, but Freeman lends credibility to the whole thing, and you'll be desperate to see Andy succeed on his mission to find a safe place for Rosie to grow up.

93 Days

If you really want a harrowing look at the story of a real pandemic, 93 Days is the film you want to watch. It's based on the true story of 2014 Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, and focuses specifically on Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh, a key figure in helping to contain the virus. Even better, 93 Days is made by a Nigerian director and is filled with a mostly Nigerian cast and crew – it's a first-person interpretation of a real world, terrifying event.

93 Days focuses on the city of Lagos, which has a population of over 21 million people. When the Ebola virus started spreading into the city, doctors, government officials and healthcare workers had to make extremely difficult decisions under an extremely dangerous backdrop to help save millions of lives. It isn't a documentary, but it does do it's best to present the real story of how the Ebola virus was contained.

While most of the cast of 93 Days is Nigerian-born, there is one famous American face to look out for: Danny Glover. If a true story is your cup of tea, 93 Days is just what you're looking for.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak is a Netflix series, not a movie. However, it's so perfectly timed and so masterfully made (provided you haven't burned yourself out on docuseries) that we just had to include it. It's only six episodes of about 50 minutes each; binge the whole series without stopping and it's like a really, really long movie.

Each episode of Pandemic showcases different aspects of how we battle against infectious diseases, but they all focus on the people who are on the front lines to protect us. Some of the topics touched upon include the race to develop effective vaccines, the distrust of science and medical professionals in different parts of the world, and different ways that people cope with the stress of fighting viral outbreaks.

Pandemic is intense and fascinating, and will really help you appreciate the medical professionals who put themselves at risk to make the world a better place.