The 7 Best Outbreak Movies to Watch During a Pandemic

Deserted wastelands, mindless zombies, and a panicked public are just some of the horrors you’ll see in these chilling pandemic films.

We often recommend products we like. If you buy anything via links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

Movies centered around pandemics shed light on past, current, and future situations. They’re obviously not the most accurate depictions of real-life pandemics, but some scenes are definitely plausible.

Pandemic-related films often portray the worst-case scenario of a medical disaster, usually involving a mass depopulation or the rise of braindead zombies. The following pandemic movies will definitely leave you feeling unsettled.

1. Outbreak

Outbreak is a 1995 film featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Patrick Dempsey. This thriller follows an outbreak of a dangerous virus that first appeared 30 years in the past.

When the virus reemerges in Africa, no one expects it to make its way to small-town California. The virologist, Colonel Sam Daniels, and his colleagues are tasked with containing the lethal disease before it spreads across the United States.

2. Carriers

Carriers takes place in a world overrun by a deadly viral infection. In an attempt to escape the outbreak, four friends shove off towards a quiet beach motel in the southwestern United States.

During their road trip, their car breaks down in the middle of a desert. While there, they also happen to encounter two more stragglers: a man and his sickly daughter. They decide to travel together, but things don’t go as smoothly as planned.

3. World War Z

In World War Z, a devastating infection plagues the Earth, transforming millions of humans into aggressive zombies. Brad Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, an ex-United Nations employee.

Lane unexpectedly becomes involved in the mission to find the source of the virus. His treacherous search across the globes pits him against hordes of infectious zombies.

4. Contagion

Contagion chronicles the outbreak of a mysterious infection. The film opens with Beth Emhoff’s return from Hong Kong—she ends up dying two days later from an unknown sickness. Beth’s child also succumbs to the strange illness, but her husband remains unaffected.

The CDC scrambles to identify and find a cure for the fast-spreading virus. As the research drags on, more people become infected, leading to utter chaos around the world.

5. 28 Days Later

28 Days Later is a British horror film that’s set in the aftermath of a rage-inducing virus. The virus gets inadvertently released by animal activists who free chimpanzee test subjects—little did they know that these chimps were infected with the virus that would begin a widespread outbreak.

28 days after the start of the infection, Jim wakes up in a coma, only to find himself inside of a deserted hospital. He soon finds that all of London is empty, and soon receives a wake-up call from a group of infected humans.

6. The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain is a must-watch for any sci-fi and horror fans. This classic 1971 film tells Dr. Jeremy Stone’s story in the form of a flashback. As he testifies in front of a congressional committee, he recounts the events that lead up to the deaths of nearly every resident of Piedmont, New Mexico.

These unprecedented deaths occur after a satellite crash-lands near the small town. Dr. Stone and a team of scientists suspect that the satellite contained an alien life form, and are sent to investigate the dangerous organism from outer space.

7. 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys is yet another pandemic-related movie starring Brad Pitt, but this time, he appears as Bruce Willis’ co-star. Willis plays James Cole, a prisoner in the year 2035. During this time, a highly-contagious infection has wiped out almost all of humanity, forcing its survivors (including prisoners) to live underground.

The only way James can earn parole is by traveling back in time—however, it’s not as awesome as it sounds. James is given the daunting task of preventing the start of the 1996 plague.

Suit Up for These Pandemic Movies

Pandemic movies are always horrifying, mostly because of their haunting realism. That said, binge-watching these films will definitely make you want to wash your hands more often.