When a pandemic outbreak in 2020 made our worst sci-fi fears come true – who can now not believe that a life in quarantine is indeed the reality of our times. Over the past three decades there have been many pandemic and virus outbreak movies that have warned us of such a future. They indicated of technological conspiracies, political agendas, medical experiments that can go dramatically wrong, and a limitless greed for power and scientific innovation. However until 2019 we never saw such cinema beyond the scope of entertainment, did we?


But now that we are living through the pandemic ourselves, maybe its time to revisit all those movies (or at-least our top ten list) and carefully analyze what research, meaning and survival stories went through them. Disclaimer: Please watch at your own discretion!


#1 – CONTAGION (2011)


Contagion would probably be the one we would all be able to relate to the most right now. Starting with scenes showing normal lifestyles of regular people – quick reels of casual outings and casino binging, the plot featuring the invisible antagonist aka the ‘Virus’ slowly seeps into the story. Being transmitted via air and physical contact, the virus ends up multiplying itself within a fore-night leading to a forecast of 2 billion possible cases in the near future. The story transcends to using familiar concepts – such as ‘quarantining’, ‘movement tracking’, ‘social distancing’ which has become regular jargons in 2020 for us. The turbulent storyline is definitely set to give you chills.



#2 – OUTBREAK (1995)


Wolfgang Peterson’s Outbreak is a thrilling film featuring a virus which originated in the depths of the Amazon, carried to the US by a monkey which then starts spreading reverently. It follows the career of a microscopic bug that kills humans within 24 hours of exposure by liquefying the internal organs (Not a pretty picture!).  The thrilling plot occupies the same area as countless science fiction movies about deadly invasions and high-tech conspiracies, but has been made with a new perspective and an appealing human dimension. If this isn’t incentive enough for you, Morgan Freeman is a part of the movie which is definitely a highlight.



#3 – PANDEMIC (2016)


Pandemic focusses on a virus of epic proportions which has overtaken the planet. The ratio of the infected to the uninfected is considerately vast and humanity is losing its grip on survival. Its only hope is in finding a cure and keeping the infected contained. To look for survivors, a rescue team is sent to search for people who are protected and stranded amongst a community of zombies (or something like them). This movie explores the post apocalyptic scenario of a zombie virus outbreak wherein societal norms take a hit and the concept of right or wrong is taken over by the thirst to survive.



#4 – VIRUS (2019)


‘Based on true events’ is the one disclaimer that gives shivers down the spine before viewing any horror/thriller movie, and the Malayali movie ‘Virus’ proved to do just that. The storyline revolves around a group of medical professionals, health officials and the people who join together to tackle the Nipah outbreak which took place in Kerala, India.


The film progresses as a chronological depiction of real-life experiences in Kozhikode and Malappuram. Despite the devastating scenes the movie doesn’t fail to evoke a sense of spirit within adversity. It pays tribute to scientists, medical professionals and the people who came forward to support the team to solve the virus attack. A must-watch!





As if the existing viruses of the Earth weren’t enough to add to global issues, this movie explores the possibility of an extra-terrestrial highly lethal microscopic organism called the Andromeda Strain that takes over the planet (and the rest you can imagine). The story starts with the on-set of a shuttle after its space voyage entering the Earth’s biosphere which dreadfully carries the strain with itself. The alienist strain has no vaccinations and no treatment protocol designed on the planet due to which a group of people join together to protect what is theirs. As the movie claims, “it’s the worst time to be human” and we couldn’t agree more.



#6 – 93 DAYS (2016)


“93 Days” is a gripping historic documentation of a deadly disease. Beginning with the day the Ebola virus came into Nigeria to the day the country was declared disease-free. It talks about the public desperation, politics between medical practitioners, the sacrifice and teamwork of the frontline workers, contain the virus and stop it from spreading further. This movie makes you realize how life is blessing in disguise, before a microscopic organism takes over to shake up the entire world.



#7 – CARRIERS (2009)


The movie revolves around four people who are fighting to survive a virus-infested town and move to a remote area and how they lay a set of rules to make things easier. Things like:

  • Avoiding populated areas at all costs.
  • If you come into contact with other people assume they are carrying the virus.
  • Never touch anything that’s not disinfected.
  • If you’re sick you’re already dead.
  • If you follow the rules, you live (with conditions).

But just like every horror movie ever, the rules are broken and when adversity strikes it all comes down to the survival of the ‘fittest and the smartest’. 



#8 – QUARANTINE (2008)


The movie starts with a journalist/camera-man duo starting their day casually trying to record a day in the life of a fire crew but what seems like an ordinary day ends up turning into a series of nightmares. When the fire crew receives an emergency call from an apartment to report the violent actions of one of the tenants, upon investigation, they soon learn that a woman living in the building has been infected by something unknown and one of the crew members gets bitten by her in a series of events. Following all this drama, suddenly they realize the apartment has been locked from the outside and they forcefully have to be quarantined with the rest of the tenants. The story unfolds how people inside avoid the infected ones and fight for survival. The direction and cinematography of the movie is what made it extremely thrilling while adding a completely new dimension to the experience.





Turning a videogame into a movie is tough to get right, but making the adaptation just under a billion dollars is next level talent. Resident Evil is an action horror science fiction film series loosely based on the Capcom ‘Survival Horror’ video game series. This movie has everything from mutated species, cloning, fancy technology, evil capitalists, a girl who saves the world and did I mention, Zombies? The movie is a must watch for all those who love scientific thrillers mixed with a crazy level of action scenes. All you need to know is that Umbrella corp. is bad, the virus got out of hand and spread globally turning everyone into zombies, and Alice being the post apocalyptic superhero has the prerogative of saving the world. Did I mention there are Zombie dogs too!



#10 – FLU (2013)


This movie can guarantee you goosebumps, give you an existential crisis, making you question everything you’ve ever taken for granted. A deadly virus is unleashed when a human trafficker is infected with an unknown virus and dies in a Bundang hospital, covered in oozing red rashes, coughing up blood. Within hours the virus spreads all over the city and death goes viral as the body count rapidly rises. Medical professionals are in a panic over the mystery killer virus and soon the government orders the military to quarantine the entire area – no one gets in, no one gets out. Desperation and violence grips in as the infected and non-infected struggle for life and everything begins to spiral out of control. This movie is a great blend of realistic visuals, emotional scenes, acts of bravery and sci-fi.




Researched and written by: Madhumitha JainCover photo Artwork by: Sarthak GroverEdited by: Gneev Nagi & Shraddha Gupta 



StreetTrotter is a Travel, Culture & Lifestyle blog, inspiring people everyday with real stories to look good and travel even better. Founded in 2012 by Shraddha Gupta, Founder & COO, this space is all about experiencing new things in life, be it a daring mountain trek, a frugal backpacking trip, a runway look made local, or simply anything that scares you enough to live a little more deeper.

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