The 24 best films of all time about epidemics and viruses in times of Corona

corona films covid-19 diseases viruses epidemics
Filmposter "World War Z", starring Brad Pitt & Mireille Eno | © Paramount Pictures

What you can neither see nor smell is frightening. Especially if it is transmissible and deadly. Like the coronavirus today. Hollywood knows this, too, which is why it was already happy to deal with these issues in many different ways before Covid-19. Here you will find a list of the best films about viruses, infections, epidemics and contagions.

Here you will find a list with the 24 best films, all of which deal with the topic of epidemics, contagious diseases, viral infections and the consequences arising from them. The selection of the Filmpuls editorial team of the best films of all time on the topic of pandemic are listed in alphabetical order.

Please note that you cannot (!) draw conclusions from these fictional films about the real, current worldwide crisis with the Corona / Covid-19 virus.

Aftermath
The 20 best films of all time about epidemics and viruses

Film titleAftermath (2014)
Director Péter Engert
CastC.J. Thomason, Monica Keena, Edward Furlong
Must-see⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor

Rating: ★★★★★ = must-see | ★ =  not worth the time

After a devastating war, the feature film “Aftermath” shows a group of people crammed together in a shelter in rural Texas, struggling with symptoms of an epidemic, grief and claustrophobia.

Antivirus

Film titleAntivirus (2014)
DirectorAlon Newman
Cast Matan Mallinger, Gitit Azulay, Moran Rightman
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐⭐

Rating: ★★★★★ = must-see | ★ =  not worth the time

Film plot of “Antivirus”: Pathogen, a company specialized in innovative digital medicine, is in crisis. The Ministry of Health is refusing to test its groundbreaking digital vaccine on humans. Pathogen is on the verge of bankruptcy. The inventor of the vaccine, fires the CEO. To save the company, he makes a deal with a mysterious investor. As part of that deal, Pathogen unleashes a contagious deadly virus.

The authorities plan to kill all people infected by the disease to prevent a global epidemic.

Bay

Film titleThe Bay (2012)
Director Barry Levinson
Cast Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
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“The Bay” is set in the town of Claridge in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay in 2009. During the city’s annual crab festival on July 4, the city’s residents suffer from a variety of symptoms, prompting local news reporters to suspect that something has infected the water in which the crabs live. No one knows exactly what it is or how the virus is transmitted.

The residents of the town are beginning to behave strangely. When the first deaths occur, fear turns to panic. The city is quarantined. Government agencies seize video footage from any media or personal sources to cover up the incident. But a local reporter who witnessed the epidemic has edited a documentary from the footage. This in the hope that one day the terrible truth will come to light.

Blindness

Film titleBlindness (2008)
Director Fernando Meirelles
Cast Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Gael García Bernal |
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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In “Blindness” a city is struck by an epidemic of immediate “white blindness”. In the film, the first people affected are quarantined by the authorities in an abandoned mental hospital, where the newly created “Society of the Blind” quickly collapses. Criminals and the physically powerful hunt down the weak, hoarding food rations and committing horrible crimes.

However, there is an eyewitness to this nightmare: a woman whose eyes are not affected by the plague-like infection follows her blind husband into quarantine. There, keeping her eyesight secret, she leads seven strangers, who have become a kind of family, out of the quarantine and onto the devastated streets of the city, where all traces of civilisation are crumbling.

Cabin Fever
The 20 best films of all time about epidemics and viruses

Film titleCabin Fever (2002)
DirectorEli Roth
CastJordan Ladd, Rider Strong, James DeBello
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐⭐

College friends Paul, Karen, Bert, Marcy and Jeff rent an isolated cabin in the woods in “Cabin Fever”. They want to spend a week together. When they arrive at their cabin, a man contaminated with a strange disease asks for help. The friends panic and kill the man who falls into the water tank and dies. The whole group, except Karen, decides to drink only beer instead of water during the week.

Karen drinks tap water and infects herself with the disease. A journey to hell begins for the group of friends.

Carriers

Film titleThe Carriers (2009)
DirectorDavid Pastor, Àlex Pastor
Cast Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Lou Taylor Pucci
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In a world devastated by an outbreak, in the feature film “The Carriers” Brian, his girlfriend Bobby, his brother Danny and their friend Kate are on their way to a beach where the brothers spent their childhood holidays. They expected it to be a sanctuary. When their car breaks down on the desert road, they negotiate with a man named Frank, who is also stranded but is out of gas.

Frank tries to get his daughter Jodie to hospital (she is infected with some kind of disease) and they decide to travel together. During the journey, events get into a downward spiral.

Contagion

Film titleContagion (2011)
DirectorSteven Soderbergh
CastGwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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The plot of “Contagion”: Soon after her return from a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) dies of a virus. Her little son also dies the same day. However, her husband Mitch seems to be immune. The spread of a deadly pandemic begins. For the doctors and administrative staff of the US disease control centres, several days pass before anyone realises the extent or severity of this new infection. They must first identify the type of virus in question and then find a means of fighting the virus, which will take several months.

As the infection spreads to millions of people worldwide, panic is spreading. The social order collapses.

Containment

Film titleContainment (2016)
DirectorNeil Mcenery-West
CastLouise Brealey, Billy Postlethwaite, Sheila Reid
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Film plot “Containment”: In a residential tower in a nameless English town, artist Mark (Lee Ross: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) wakes up one morning to find that there is no water, no electricity, no telephones… and that the front door to his apartment and all windows are sealed.

Mark is not alone in this confinement: on the other side of the yard he can see other people in another building knocking on their windows. And in front of his settlement an army of people in orange protective suits is setting up a field hospital.

Crazies

Film titleThe Crazies (1973)
Director George A. Romero
Cast Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐

Evans City is the name of the city into which a plane crashes in the feature film “The Crazies”. The crash releases a bacteriological weapon into the water for six days, which only affects humans. An army under the command of Colonel Peckemseals seals off the city to contain the spread of the virus. There is no antidote for the victims, who are condemned to death or incurable insanity by the epidemic.

Pregnant nurse Judy, her husband David, her boyfriend Clank, her new acquaintance Artie and his daughter Kathy try to cross the border of the city. But the refugees are hunted by the army. Meanwhile the scientist Dr. Ralston Watts is researching blood samples to find a cure for the disease.

Doomsday
The 20 best films of all time about epidemics and viruses

Film titleDoomsday
DirectorNeil Marshall
CastRhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Alexander Siddig
Must-see⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐

In 2008, in “Doomsday, Day of Revenge”, Scotland will be struck by the uncontrollable and totally destructive Reaper Virus, which claims thousands of innocent lives. Almost three decades later, in 2037 – the country is still under quarantine – the deadly virus manages to resurrect.

As a result, the Prime Minister calls together a hand-picked team led by Major Eden Sinclair to find possible survivors of the epidemic and to work with them to find a radical remedy for the pandemic as quickly as possible. But with the nightmarish conditions in the country, no one knows what horrors are hidden deep within the burnt and unstable quarantine zone.

Factor 8

Film titleFactor 8 (2009)
Director Rainer Matsutani
CastMuriel Baumeister, Oliver Mommsen, Emilia Schüle
Must-see⭐⭐
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A mysterious epidemic breaks out on board a holiday jet from Thailand. It kills numerous passengers in a very short time. The plane is diverted to a former military airport and placed under high-security quarantine. Gregor, a pilot of the same airline, is the protagonist of “Factor 8 – The day has come”. He learns about the catastrophe and desperately tries to save his wife Anne and their daughter Julia, who are both fighting for their lives on board the plane.

As the situation escalates, Gregor manages to sneak into the no-go zone, which has been closed due to the epidemic. Since neither an antidote nor a vaccine is medically available, security officials and crisis management are faced with a fundamental decision: Must the lives of a few passengers be sacrificed to ensure the survival of millions?

Girl with all the Gifts
The 20 best films of all time about epidemics and viruses

Film titleThe Girl with all the Gifts (2016) (2 (0
DirectorColm McCarthy
Cast Sennia Nanua, Fisayo Akinade, Dominique Tipper
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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In the feature film “The Girl with all the Gifts” the world is plagued by a mysterious epidemic. This occurs in the form of a fungal disease. The diseased are robbed of all free will and transformed with a virus into carnivorous zombies. The only hope of humanity is a small group of hybrid children, who crave human flesh, but retain the ability to think and feel. All these children go to school on an army base in rural Britain, where they are subjected to cruel experiments by Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close).

School teacher Helen Justineau (played by Gemma Arterton) grows fond of an extraordinary girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua). A deep bond develops between the two. When the school is attacked by zombies, the trio escapes with the help of Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) and embarks on a life-threatening journey. Melanie must learn who she really is.

Happening
The 20 best films of all time about epidemics and viruses

Film titleThe Happening (2008)
Director M. Night Shyamalan
Cast Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Out of the blue in “The Happening” inexplicable incidents begin to threaten mankind. A seemingly unstoppable and invisible threat changes human behaviour beyond all reason.

Faced with this confusing extreme situation, a high school science teacher, Elliot Moore, the father of a family, and his wife Alma, try to understand the origin of the catastrophe. This, while everyone, including friends and neighbours, leave the contaminated area and seek safety from the pandemic. After all, how can one defend oneself against an intangible enemy?

I am Legend
The 20 best films of all time about viruses and epidemics

Film titleI am Legend (2007)
Director Francis Lawrence
CastWill Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐

Robert Neville (Will Smith), is a brilliant scientist who sets out in “I am Legend” to find a cure for a virus. The entire population of New York City – and perhaps the entire world – has been transformed into carnivorous bloodsuckers. They fear the light and live only to spread their disease to any remaining living creature they come across. It’s been three years since civilization ended. Neville is correspondingly desolate.

During the day he searches the city for food and supplies and sends desperate radio messages. …hoping that someone will answer. At night he tries to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus by experimenting with his own blood. But time is running out for Neville. Legions of infected people watch his every step, watching and waiting for the moment to infect even the last human on the planet.

It Comes at Night

Film titleIt comes at Night (2017)
Director Trey Edward Shults
CastJoel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Crammed into their locked house, deep in a dark and dangerous forest, Paul, his wife Sarah and their son Travis have condemned themselves to a strict self quarantine in this film after the sudden outbreak of a virulent and deadly communicating disease. IN the feature film “It comes at Night”, interaction with the outside world takes place only briefly and only when necessary. However, when a family in need settles into Paul’s house in search of food and shelter, the already fragile balance of things is abruptly upset by the epidemic.

Little by little – as the uneasy coexistence between the two families drags on – mistrust, panic and a terrible suspicion begin to reign ever more strongly.

Outbreak
The 20 best films of all time about viruses and epidemics

Film titleOutbreak (1995)
Director Wolfgang Petersen
Cast Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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After a strange disease is discovered in Africa, Colonel Sam Daniels (Dustin Hofman) in the classic “Outbreak” by the German director Wolfgang Petersen of the Medical Research Institute of the US Army for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) is ordered to investigate this virus. When Daniels, back in the USA, reports to his superior and tells him that a warning of this disease is necessary because it is becoming a pandemic, the general replies that this disease cannot possibly reach the American continent. However, an infected monkey has already been captured by an animal dealer in Africa and brought to the USA.

Daniels turns to his ex-wife (Rene Russo), who works at the Center for Disease Control. Both find out that the spread of the epidemic has already started.

Quarantine

Film titleQuarantine (2008)
Director John Erick Dowdle
CastJennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Columbus Short
Must-see⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐

A television reporter and her cameraman are assigned to the night shift at the Los Angeles Fire Department in the film “Quarantine”. After a routine emergency call, which leads them to a high-rise building from which screams are heard, with blood freezing in their veins.

They learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by an unknown disease. After some of the building’s residents have been attacked, they try to escape but find that the building is under quarantine. All communication is interrupted. The only evidence of the events are their video recordings.

Viral

Film titleViral (2016)
DirectorHenry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Cast Sofia Black-D’Elia, Analeigh Tipton, Travis Tope
Rating⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emma and her sister Stacey are normal teenagers in a small town when a mysterious parasite infection starts to spread in “Viral”. Since the town is quarantined and their parents are stuck on the other side of the barrier, the girls have a lot of fun at first. They eat junk food and sneak into parties.

But when the disease starts infecting people they know, the girls barricade themselves in their house with their neighbor Evan (Emma’s secret crush). But the infection is already in their midst. Emma is given a choice: protect her sister or survive the virus.

World War Z
The 20 best films of all time about epidemics and viruses

Film titleWorld War Z (2013)
DirectorMarc Forster
CastBrad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐

A virulent and unprecedented pandemic of global proportions that turns people into rabid, carnivorous zombies surprises the world in the feature film “World War Z” by director Marc Forster (James Bond – A Quantum of Solace). Early retired UN special envoy Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) leaves his peaceful family life behind to accompany a team of scientists through zombie-infested cities in search of a cure.

As the deadly pathogen wipes out entire areas and ceaselessly gives birth to sick masses of newly resuscitated undead, the fragile hope for a viable solution fades. Does humanity have enough time to wait for a miracle?

Z-Nation
TV-Series

Film titleZ-Nation (2014)
Directors Craig Engler, Karl Schaefer
Cast Russell Hodgkinson, Nat Zang, Keith Allan
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐

After successfully surviving what they thought was the worst of a zombie pandemic, a team of volunteers in the TV series “Z-Nation” has to transport the only known survivor of the virus attack from New York to California. Because there the last functioning laboratory is waiting for his blood. The antibodies to the virus in the survivor’s veins are humanity’s last hope for a vaccine against the disease.

Zombie

Film titleZombie / Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Director George A. Romero
Cast David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐

Following the events of the Night of the Living Dead (1968), “Zombie” (English title: Dawn of the Dead) follows the heroic deeds of four survivors of the spreading zombie apocalypse. After the terrible SWAT evacuation of an apartment complex in an abandoned shopping centre, they seek refuge. They take stock of their surroundings, arm themselves, seal off the mall and destroy the zombies inside so that they can build a new life for themselves – at least for a while.

Over the months, tensions build up and the survivors of the epidemic realize that they have fallen victim to consumerism. Soon after, they have even bigger problems, as a large biker gang discovers the shopping centre. They invade there, ruining the survivors’ best plans and forcing them to fight not only against carnivorous zombies, but also against the criminal bikers.

12 Monkeys

Film title12 Monkeys (1995)
Director Terry Gilliam
CastBruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt
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An unknown and deadly virus wiped out five billion people in the cult film “12 Monkeys” by Terry Gilliam in 1996. By 2035, only 1% of the population had survived. Those who live are forced to spend their lives underground. A convict (James Cole, played by Bruce Willies) is sent back to the time of 1996 by the criminal authorities to gather information about the origin of the epidemic. This is said to have been spread by a mysterious “Army of the Twelve Monkeys”. The convict Cole, as a time ironer, is supposed to locate the virus for a group of scientists before it mutates further.

Erroneously, Cole is sent to the year 1990, six years earlier than planned. There he is arrested and locked up in a psychiatric institution, where he meets a scientist named Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and first meets Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the crazy son of the eminent virologist (Christopher Plummer). Cole finally lands at his intended destination. There he actually discovers graffiti from an apparent animal rights group called the “Army of 12 Monkeys”.

28 Days Later

Film title28 Days Later (2002)
Director Danny Boyle
CastCillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐

A group of animal rights activists breaks into a laboratory in “28 Days Later”. They release monkeys from their cages to save them. This despite a scientist warning that the apes are infecting humans with a deadly disease. As a result of the actions of animal rights activists, the virus spreads and infects numerous people.

Jim, the main character of “28 Days Later” has been put into a coma after a bicycle accident shortly before the virus was released. When he wakes up again, he realizes that there are only two groups left within the city: those people who were infected and those who were not. Jim manages to find other survivors of the epidemic. They set off for Manchester, where a group of British military personnel offer protection from the infected to all refugees. However, Jim and his colleagues have no idea what they will face.

28 Weeks Later

 

Film title28 Weeks Later (2007)
DirectorJuan Carlos Fresnadillo
CastJeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle
Must-see⭐⭐⭐⭐
Corona factor⭐⭐⭐

Rating: ★★★★★ = must-see | ★ =  not worth the time

Seven months after the almost complete destruction of Great Britain by an epidemic virus in the previous film “28 Days Later”, the US Army declares in the sequel from 2007 that the war against the infection has been won and the reconstruction of the country can begin.

With the first wave of refugees returning to England, a family is reunited in “28 Weeks Later” – but one of the family members still carries the virus. And this time it is more dangerous than ever. A new pandemic threatens to wipe out all life worldwide.

Filmpulse Editorial Office
About Filmpulse Editorial Office 180 Articles
Under the heading "Filmpulse Editorial Office", contributions appear which are jointly produced by several members of the staff.

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