Table of contents:

25 films and TV series about epidemics that are really scary
25 films and TV series about epidemics that are really scary

True stories about virus outbreaks, horror zombies and a philosophical parable about the plague.

25 films and TV series about epidemics that are really scary
25 films and TV series about epidemics that are really scary

The best films about epidemics

15. Epidemic

  • USA, 1995.
  • Drama, thriller.
  • Duration: 128 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6, 6.

The military kept a dangerous virus in the laboratory, but the infected experimental monkey broke free. Now epidemiologists must urgently find a vaccine. To do this, they need to find the first carrier - that same animal.

Critics took this film by the famous director Wolfgang Petersen ambiguously. But it demonstrates how a disease can spread from a single carrier. And then the countdown to mass infection goes literally for hours, if not minutes. And also in "Epidemic" a popular theory is shown that a dangerous virus can be used by the military.

14. Infection

  • USA, 2011.
  • Science fiction, thriller, drama.
  • Duration: 106 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6, 7.

A dangerous virus is spreading from Asia all over the world. The mortality rate from it is more than 20%, and a rapid mutation complicates the creation of a vaccine. WHO is trying to stop mass infection and find "patient zero".

For this film, director Steven Soderbergh consulted with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts. As a result, he created a very realistic picture of the spread of the virus. A new wave of popularity came to Infection in 2020, because the film describes a situation very similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, not only many symptoms of the disease coincide, but also the very history of its appearance. The last minutes clearly demonstrate how the virus is transmitted between different species of animals and gets to humans.

13. War of the Worlds Z

  • USA, 2013.
  • Horror, action, drama.
  • Duration: 116 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 0.

Former UN worker Jerry Lane was stuck with his family in traffic and witnessed a massive outbreak of the zombie virus. Everyone bitten turns into a fast and aggressive flesh eater after 12 seconds. Having managed to get out of a dangerous situation, Lane joins a group that is trying to find a cure for the virus.

According to the first scenes, it seems that the entire film will be an action-packed thriller, where the hero is at war with the army of the living dead. But gradually "War of the Worlds Z" turns into a thriller, where zombies are trying to explore from a scientific point of view. However, there are also plenty of cool scenes here.

12. Last love on Earth

  • Great Britain, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, 2010.
  • Science fiction, melodrama.
  • Duration: 88 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 1.

Chef Michael and epidemiologist Susan fell in love. But they fail to enjoy a passionate romance, because the world was struck by an outbreak of an unknown virus: people first lose their sense of smell, then taste, and then other feelings.

The film unusually combines a melodramatic plot and post-apocalyptic motives. But this is not its main advantage. "The last love on Earth" conveys a state when people do not know what to expect from the disease further. And in addition, the film mentions the influence of religious and other cults that promise miraculous healing to their followers, and other very real problems of the pandemic.

11. Strain "Andromeda"

  • USA, 1971.
  • Science fiction, drama, thriller.
  • Duration: 131 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 2.

A military satellite crashes to Earth near a small town in Arizona. A dangerous virus escapes from it, killing all residents in the vicinity, except for an old man and a child who are sick with an ulcer. A group of scientists gathers in an isolated area to study the disease.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, who also wrote the book "Jurassic Park", directed the film "Westworld" and even the series "Ambulance". The author of the original studied medicine in his youth and worked at the Institute for Biological Research. Therefore, despite the fantastic basis, the picture analyzes the process of studying a new virus, and also explains why some people have immunity to it.

10. Panic in the streets

  • USA, 1950.
  • Noir, thriller, crime.
  • Duration: 96 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 3.
Epidemic Films: Panic in the Streets
Epidemic Films: Panic in the Streets

Several criminals kill a man on the street who won a large sum of money from them. When the police find the body, the medical examiner discovers that the deceased was infected with pneumonic plague. Now detectives need to urgently catch the bandits in order to arrest them for murder, and at the same time save the whole city from an epidemic.

The classic noir painting combines two genres. On the one hand, this is a typical crime drama about finding criminals. On the other hand, there is a story about the danger of mass infection in the background, which adds pace and globality to the plot.

9. Death in Venice

  • Italy, France, USA, 1971.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 130 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 4.
Epidemic Films: "Death in Venice"
Epidemic Films: "Death in Venice"

Composer Gustav von Aschenbach is tired of both creativity and life. He goes to rest at a resort near Venice. But soon the hero falls in love with the young Pole and again loses his peace. Meanwhile, a cholera epidemic begins in the city.

The Italian Luchino Visconti took the novel of the same name by Thomas Mann as the basis of the plot, but for some reason changed the profession of the protagonist. The writer turned from the original into a composer. But all the arguments about life and death remained in place. And at the same time, there are references to how the authorities are trying to hide information about the epidemic from people.

8. Train to Busan

  • South Korea, 2016.
  • Action, thriller, horror.
  • Duration: 118 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 5.

Sok Woo is about to take his daughter Su An to her mother in Busan. They board the train, but at the last moment a woman infected with a zombie virus jumps into the carriage. It turns out that the reanimated dead are already taking over the world. Passengers need to stop the spread of the infection inside the train and get to a safe place.

Korean director Yeon Sang Ho's dynamic film keeps you on your toes until the very end. Most of the action takes place in a confined space, emphasizing the sense of constant danger. And besides, in "Train to Busan" some of the heroes, fleeing from infection, behave very mean and cruel. This makes you think about the real actions of people in dangerous moments.

7. Painted Veil

  • USA, Canada, China, 2006.
  • Drama, melodrama.
  • Duration: 125 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 5.

The film is set in the 1920s. The middle-class physician Walter married the aristocrat Kitty, but their marriage was not a happy one. At a certain moment, the husband sets a condition: either the wife goes to her lover, or goes with her husband to the Chinese village, where he will help fight the outbreak of cholera. And it is Walter's dedication to dangerous work that makes Kitty truly love him.

A touching drama makes it clear that some people in everyday life may seem too soft and indecisive. But when it comes to saving others, they are willing to go out of their way and even sacrifice themselves.

6.28 days later

  • UK, 2002.
  • Fantastic drama, thriller, horror.
  • Duration: 113 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 6.

Simple guy Jim emerges from a long coma and discovers that he missed the start of a terrible epidemic. An unknown virus turns people into mindless killers. Jim meets several survivors and together they try to get to a safe haven. But in the new world, the problem is not only with the infected.

Danny Boyle approached the typical plot of the zombie apocalypse in a very unusual way. The virus does not change the human body too much, but rather affects the psyche. Therefore, the plot makes you think not only about the danger of mass infection, but also about toxicity in modern society. Sometimes people behave no better than the living dead.

5. Child of man

  • USA, UK, Japan, 2006.
  • Science fiction, thriller, drama.
  • Duration: 104 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 9.

In the not too distant future, humanity has been struck by mass sterility, and the flu pandemic has claimed many lives. The world is in chaos, some semblance of order has survived only in Great Britain, where a fascist regime was established. Former political activist Theo has long been disillusioned with people, but it is he who has a mission that can change everything.

Alfonso Cuarón's painting paints a very bleak perspective for humanity. At the same time, the author explains how quickly dangerous diseases and problems with childbirth destroy the economies of states, leading to chaos.

4.12 monkeys

  • USA, 1995.
  • Science fiction, thriller, drama.
  • Duration: 129 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 0.

By 2035, the virus has wiped out most of the world's population. The few survivors are underground, sometimes sending convicted criminals to the surface. Criminal James Cole is offered amnesty in exchange for saving humanity. He must travel back in time and understand the causes of the onset of the disease.

This controversial film was directed by dystopian master Terry Gilliam. At some point, it may seem that everything that happens is generally unreal. But in general, this story makes you wonder: can we change our future, or is everything predetermined? And the topic of a deadly virus pandemic is the best illustration of such thoughts.

3. Virus

  • India, 2019.
  • Thriller, drama.
  • Duration: 152 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 0.

In the Indian state of Kerala, a patient with an unknown virus is taken to a hospital. He dies in just a few hours, but transfers the infection to 18 more people. The group, led by the Minister of Health, must locate the lesion as quickly as possible and study the disease.

The Indian painting is based on true events. In 2018, India did indeed experience an outbreak of the Nipah virus, which killed those infected in a matter of hours. Fortunately, the disease was stopped.

2. Seventh seal

  • Sweden, 1957.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 96 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 2.
Epidemic Films: "The Seventh Seal"
Epidemic Films: "The Seventh Seal"

Knight Antonius Blok and his squire return from a crusade to their homeland, where the plague is raging. The main character tries to understand the meaning of life and therefore begins the chess game with Death itself.

In Ingmar Bergman's philosophical parable, the epidemic is only a background for the main plot. Block travels to his castle across the country, encountering extinct villages. But most importantly, in the finale, he realizes that the meaning of life can be in helping others.

1. Smallpox

  • Yugoslavia, 1982.
  • Horror, drama.
  • Duration: 110 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8, 2.
Epidemic Films: Smallpox
Epidemic Films: Smallpox

The Muslim pilgrim returns to Belgrade, having bought a flute from a sick person on the way. Arriving home, he ends up in the hospital, where he is initially misdiagnosed. And soon more than a hundred people are infected with smallpox.

The Yugoslav picture is based on the true story of the last major smallpox outbreak in Europe. And one of the important plot lines of this thriller demonstrates how the government's silence on the problem hinders the victory over the disease.

The best TV shows about epidemics

10. Zoo Apocalypse

  • USA, 2015-2017.
  • Thriller, fantasy, detective.
  • Duration: 3 seasons.
  • IMDb: 6, 8.

Zoologist Jackson Oz, during an expedition to Africa, begins to notice that animals are becoming more and more aggressive. And soon, all over the world, animals are already attacking people in an organized manner. Oz and his comrades are trying to figure out the causes of an incomprehensible pandemic.

An unusual example of an apocalyptic plot, where a strange disease struck not people, but animals. But this does not make what is happening less dangerous.

9. Spiral

  • USA, Canada, 2014-2015.
  • Horror, thriller, fantasy.
  • Duration: 2 seasons.
  • IMDb: 6, 8.

A team of scientists is studying dangerous viruses in remote parts of the planet. In the first season, the heroes are sent to an Arctic base, where several people died, and one of the workers turned into a monster. In the sequel, scientists are fighting the epidemic of athlete's foot on the island of Saint-Germain.

"Spiral" balances on the edge of different genres: a medical thriller about the study of dangerous diseases regularly turns into a real zombie horror. And in the second season, different timelines are also added.

8. Confrontation

  • USA, 1994.
  • Drama, horror, fantasy.
  • Duration: 1 season.
  • IMDb: 7, 2.

The most dangerous strain of influenza breaks out from the laboratory of the US Department of Defense. Only 0.06% of the population has immunity to the disease, and all infected die. Soon, almost the entire country dies out, and the survivors are divided into two camps. Many have joined the sinister Black Man who wants to establish his own rules. Others try to preserve the remnants of humanity.

The plot of the most voluminous book by Stephen King could hardly fit into a four-part project. Therefore, in 2019, CBS All Access began developing a full-fledged series based on this work. Ironically, work was interrupted by a real pandemic.

7. Hot zone

  • USA, 2019.
  • Drama, thriller, fantasy.
  • Duration: 1 season.
  • IMDb: 7, 3.

The Ebola virus enters the United States. Risking her own life, Officer Nancy Jax must study the deadly disease and find the source of its occurrence.

The series is based on the book of the same name, which in turn retells the real events of 1989. Moreover, the National Geographic channel tried to convey what was happening as believably as possible. And after watching the two-part project, you can ask the biography of the real Nancy Jax.

6. Strain

  • USA, 2014-2017.
  • Drama, thriller, horror.
  • Duration: 4 seasons.
  • IMDb: 7, 3.

A plane arrives at the New York airport, on board which an unknown virus began to be infected, which killed most of the passengers. Soon, their corpses begin to disappear from the morgues, and the survivors discover strange mutations in themselves. It turns out that they turn into vampires.

In 2009, director Guillermo del Toro, in collaboration with Chuck Hogan, created a book of the same name, in which he analyzed vampirism as a disease, describing biological and chemical processes. And in 2014, the author successfully transferred his novel to the screens. It turned out to be a very tough thriller with an unexpected look at the bloodsuckers.

5. Cordon

  • Belgium, 2014-2016.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 2 seasons.
  • IMDb: 7, 4.
Epidemic series: "Cordon"
Epidemic series: "Cordon"

An illegal migrant from Afghanistan comes to Antwerp and brings a dangerous disease with him. Soon, due to an outbreak of infection, the authorities are building a wall around the city. Looting and chaos immediately begins inside the fence. Meanwhile, the journalist discovers that the disease did not appear at all because of the refugee.

For old Europe, which has long had a problem with migrants, the series about the forced blockade turned out to be a rather strong political statement. And besides, he again pleases supporters of conspiracy theories. A little later, the American channel The CW filmed an English-language remake called "Isolation".

4. The last ship

  • USA, 2014-2018.
  • Drama, action.
  • Duration: 5 seasons.
  • IMDb: 7, 5.

The USS Nathan James was on mission and isolated from the rest of the world. When the team gets in touch, it discovers that there was an outbreak of "red flu" on earth, which killed about 80% of the world's population. Now the heroes must get to civilization and find a vaccine, and then fight against the illegal government in America.

In the center of the plot is a group of people who, by a happy coincidence, missed the beginning of the epidemic. But some important ideas emerge after the second season. For example, rulers can hide the vaccine from people in order to maintain power. In the real world, this is hardly possible, but for a dystopia it is quite suitable.

3. In the flesh

  • UK, 2013-2014.
  • Horror, drama.
  • Duration: 2 seasons.
  • IMDb: 8, 0.
Epidemic TV Series: "In the Flesh"
Epidemic TV Series: "In the Flesh"

It has been four years since the outbreak of the zombie epidemic. Many of the infected were saved - they underwent treatment and can now normally exist in society. One of the recovered, Kiren Walker, returns to his hometown. But local residents are not yet ready to accept those with whom they recently fought.

The British TV series is not about the epidemic itself, but its consequences. Many people find it difficult to move away from the stigmatization of some diseases and believe that the infected are no longer dangerous. Although the project can also be considered a story about the problems of everyone who does not fit into the traditional norms of society.

2. Survivors

  • Great Britain, 1975-1977.
  • Science fiction, drama.
  • Duration: 3 seasons.
  • IMDb: 8, 1.
Epidemic TV Series: Survivors
Epidemic TV Series: Survivors

After a pandemic of the virus that killed most of humanity, society fell into decay. Survivors unite in small groups and try to somehow organize their life.

The classic series does not indulge in the active action that is characteristic of other post-apocalyptic stories. But on the other hand, he quite vividly talks about the fate of people, each of whom has lost loved ones. There is also a more modern analogue of the story with the same name. Moreover, the authors argue that this is not a remake, but only a new adaptation of the source book.

1. The Walking Dead

  • USA, 2010 - present.
  • Horror, drama.
  • Duration: 10 seasons.
  • IMDb: 8, 2.

Sheriff Rick Grimes wakes up in the hospital and finds that the world is in the grip of a virus that is turning people into zombies. The hero teams up with a group of survivors who are trying to adapt to new conditions.

The series, based on the comic book series of the same name, often leans more towards relationship drama than action or horror. It also shows that cunning and selfish people can be more dangerous than evil, but mindless zombies.

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