Our top 10 pandemic films to watch with caution

By Marriska Fernandes on March 20, 2020 | 8 Comments

Jude Law in Contagion

Since social distancing and self-isolation are recommended to stop the spread of COVID-19, many of us are turning to streaming platforms and video-on-demand titles to keep entertained in these troubled times.

Not surprisingly, pandemic films have been generating a lot of buzz, and are actually trending in the top spots on streaming platforms in Canada and the States. We have compiled a list of pandemic films that are of interest right now. Keep in mind that if you’re extremely anxious about the current state of affairs, you might instead want to check out this list of what to binge-watch, or this list of top-ranked films. ~Marriska Fernandes


Steven Soderbergh‘s Contagion is among the top five films currently streaming on Netflix, while it’s among the top ten on iTunes. Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) goes on a business trip to Hong Kong, and two days after arriving home in Minneapolis, she suffers a seizure and is rushed to the hospital, where she dies. Her husband, Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), soon discovers that their son Clark has also fallen ill and died. The virus spreads quickly to other cities. As the epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself.


An African monkey carries a virus that makes its way through America. Army doctors struggle to find a cure for a deadly virus spreading rapidly. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Donald Sutherland, and Patrick Dempsey.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

This is a Netflix original series that’s also in the top 10 list. In this docuseries, which was completed just before the coronavirus outbreak, meet the heroes on the front lines of the battle against influenza and learn about their efforts to stop the next global epidemic, not realizing that it’s just weeks away from beginning.


Set in the near future, in which a virus of epic proportions has overtaken the planet, there are more infected than uninfected, and humanity is losing its grip on survival. The only hope is finding a cure and keeping the infected contained. Lauren (Rachel Nichols) is a doctor, who, after the fall of New York City, comes to Los Angeles to lead a team to hunt for and rescue uninfected survivors.

Bird Box

When people look into the eyes of an entity that takes on the form of people’s worst fears, they start committing suicide. Melanie (Sandra Bullock) witnesses what’s happening and takes two young children on a desperate, dangerous journey to find a safe place, far away from the chaos. Click here to watch our interview with Trevante Rhodes, who also stars in the film.

The Happening

It begins with no clear warning. It seems to come out of nowhere. What is causing this sudden, total breakdown of human behavior? Is it some kind of new terrorist attack, an experiment gone wrong, a diabolical toxic weapon, an out-of-control virus? Is it being transmitted by air, by water.. how? Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this film stars Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel.


No one is safe from the viral pandemic threatening to wipe out the human race. Determined to elude the deadly virus, Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), his brother Brian (Chris Pine), his girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Danny’s school friend Kate (Emily Van Camp) speed across the Southwestern U.S. to reach a place of possible safety.

It Comes at Night

As an unnatural threat kills many people around the world, Paul (Joel Edgerton), along with his wife and son, have sealed themselves away in their home. When a desperate young family seeking refuge arrives, they’re put to the ultimate test.

28 Days Later

A powerful virus is unleashed on the British public following a raid on a primate research facility by animal rights activists. Transmitted in a drop of blood, the virus locks those infected into a permanent state of murderous rage. Within 28 days the country is overwhelmed and a handful of survivors begin their attempts to salvage the future, little realizing that the deadly virus is not the only thing that threatens them.

28 Weeks Later

This sequel to 28 Days Later picks up six months after the rage virus has annihilated the British Isles. The army declares that the war against infection has been won, and that the reconstruction of the country can begin. As the first wave of refugees return, a family is reunited — but one of them unwittingly carries a terrible secret. The virus is not yet dead, and this time, it is more dangerous than ever.

Comments & Discussion

  1. Fasterbator • March 20, 2020 @ 5:33 PM

    Where is 12 Monkeys!?! While the disease has already ravaged the planet there is loads of post disease talk and how the virus travelled, ect. Plus; it is far more entertaining than all the movies on this list that I have seen… except maybe o.g. 28 Days Later.

  2. Peter • March 20, 2020 @ 5:45 PM

    Interesting list! Seen most of it – not the new Netflix series.
    Contagion is scarily true of what’s happening right now
    I guess I’ll watch Outbreak tongiht.

  3. Dana • March 20, 2020 @ 5:46 PM

    It’s really thoughtful to advise with caution.
    I just saw Contagion – hmm…maybe i’ll watch Pandemic next

  4. mj • March 20, 2020 @ 6:52 PM

    where is the 70’s movie Virus starring george kennedy, glenn ford , edward james olmos? truly the start of great plague movies

  5. Ross Murray • March 20, 2020 @ 7:34 PM

    – The Andromeda Strain (1971).
    – The Quiet Earth (1985); not a virus, but
    the look of it …
    – The Stand (miniseries)

    – As the saying goes these days, stay safe.

  6. Shannon • March 22, 2020 @ 7:23 PM

    Great list, I never wanted to see Contagion before but because of Coronavirus I did and it was really good, not as scary as I thought it would be. A lot of similarities to what’s happening now. Not sure about the others, has anyone seen them? Are they scary? I may watch the Pandemic series next, because its factual. How is everyone doing out there? Hope you’re all staying safe!

  7. Mary T • March 23, 2020 @ 12:41 PM

    Great suggestions from readers also. However, my suggestion would be if you are feeling anxious or prone to depression not to watch this type of movie. It’s a sh*t show out there, something any generation living have not experienced. Stay safe everyone and self isolate, distance.

  8. Maria • March 26, 2020 @ 11:31 AM

    I don’t generally watch these kinds of movies, but watching them now is kind of therapeutic because in the movies it’s so much worse. Although you don’t see the pain of everyone losing their jobs because of the massive overreaction. During the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918, theaters were closed for 2 weeks. And there were many more infected people then, but they got through it without going berserk and jamming stores and not being able to go out.

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