Best Pandemic and Virus Outbreak Movies to Stream While You’re in Quarantine

Stay home, lock the doors, and get nice and cosy with these great quarantine, virus, and infection movies.

Pandemic and Virus Outbreak Movies

Horror movies are the perfect place to explore our fears in the safety of our own homes. So it stands to reason that since we’re all stuck self-isolating in our own homes we should want to explore our abject terror of the COVID-19 virus driving ordinarily sane people to stockpile booze and toilet paper outside.

Perhaps it’s a fascination with the movies that predicted how a pandemic would play out that put Steven Soderberg’s Contagion in the top ten most rented list on iTunes. Maybe it’s watching characters you can relate to dealing with a brand new disease in a story that’s ultimately fiction that has landed Outbreak in the Netflix top ten.

It’s not surprising we suddenly seem to have an appetite for infection and quarantine movies, so here are some of the best ones and where you can stream them from home.

12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys (1995)

In Terry Gilliam’s masterful sci-fi fable, an unbalanced prisoner named Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to 1996 from 2035, where the remnants of humanity live underground. His mission: to find and procure a sample of the virus that wiped out civilization so that future scientists can study it and find a cure. Based on the French short film La Jetee, 12 Monkeys is about the way that human intellect and emotion can distort time and reality, and its vision of a fading society buried underground by the spread of a pathogen is a chilling central metaphor. 

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Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime, Hulu

28 Days Later

28 Days Later (2002)

The seminal ‘running zombie’ movie from Danny Boyle finds a place on the list, where other zombie films may not because of its clarity that the outbreak is caused by animals infected with a virus These aren’t reanimated undead, but sick people. The virus is nicknamed ‘rage’ and sees the infected become insanely violent and highly contagious. Our hero is Cillian Murphy, unaware of the virus because of a stint in hospital in a coma, who finds London a deserted wasteland just 28 days after the outbreak began.

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime, Hulu

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Based on Michael Crichton’s best selling 1969 novel, The Andromeda Strain chronicles the desperate efforts of a team of four scientists to solve the mystery of a fast-mutating extraterrestrial virus before it can spread throughout the world. The claustrophobic underground lab setting makes the film feel intimate even as the ramifications of the Andromeda organism are catastrophic and terrifying. Directed with pulse-pounding urgency by the great Robert Wise, the film’s focus on science makes it that much more realistic — and frightening. 

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime

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Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

The Bay

The Bay (2013)

Oscar winner Barry Levinson (Rain Man) is the unexpected director of this underrated eco-horror which sees a coastal Maryland town infected by a flesh eating fish parasite. A found footage movie with several strands told via local reporting, phone footage, social media, and police surveillance it’s a cautionary tale which Levinson says is largely based on fact.

Watch in the US on: Shudder

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Blindness

Blindness (2008)

A highly communicable disease renders much of the world’s population blind in this film from director Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes) based on Jose Saramago’s novel. None of the characters — in a cast led by Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo — are named, as the film follows the book’s metaphorical nature while not shying away from the atrocities that occur as civilization collapses. Less about science and more about human nature, Blindness suggests that humanity will need to adapt different perspectives to survive a global catastrophe — a lesson worth remembering as we work our way through the COVID-19 crisis. 

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Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever (2003)

What’s that you say? You’ve got Cabin Fever? Thank your lucky stars it’s not this kind! Eli Roth’s feature debut was this comedy horror which sees a group of kids vacationing in a cabin attacked by a flesh eating virus. It’s extremely gory and gross (that leg shaving scene, eesh), but it’s also quite funny and sharp in how it plays with horror tropes.

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime

Watch in the UK on: STARZPLAY, Amazon Prime

Carriers

Carriers (2009)

Chris Pine stars in this post-apocalyptic road movie which sees a virus wipe out much of the population. An as yet uninfected foursome head out to a small resort they believe is plague-free where they plan to wait out the pandemic. On the way they encounter desperate survivors and dangerous factions and eventually turn on each other. Not the most cheerful of the movies on this list.

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Watch in the US on: Netflix

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Children of Men

Children of Men (2006)

Director Alfonso Cuaron’s modern classic could well be the most frightening film on this list in many ways — because of both Cuaron’s hyper-realistic style of filmmaking and because its world is so recognizably our own in many ways. With an unknown malady preventing the birth of any new children for 18 years (following a global flu pandemic), the world is on the brink of societal collapse. Only one lone young woman — who is somehow pregnant — provides a beacon of hope against a storm of despair. The film’s lasting theme of faith against all odds may end up being a balm in these uncertain days.

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime, Hulu

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion

Contagion (2011)

Steven Soderbergh’s realistic depiction of what might happen in the wake of a pandemic sees doctors struggling to identify the cause of a deadly virus and attempt to develop a vaccine while cities are under quarantine, false reports are causing panic buying, and supplies of the inoculation aren’t sufficient to treat everyone at risk. Featuring an all star cast including Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow it’s a classy and slightly terrifying look outside our own window.

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Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime

Watch in the UK on: Netflix, Amazon Prime

The Crazies

The Crazies (1973/2010)

Legendary director George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) made the original Crazies in 1973, focusing on a small town decimated by a biological weapon and finished off by the incompetence of the government that tries to contain the outbreak. Romero’s film was crudely made but razor-sharp in its skewering of the bureaucratic and military mindset; a 2010 remake from director Breck Eisner is less satirical, more polished and intense, and in the end, more effective. Both are worth a watch. 

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime (both free for Prime members; 2010 version available to rent/buy)

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime (2010)

It Comes at Night

It Comes At Night (2017)

Despite what the misleading trailer suggested this is not a zombie movie, but it is an infection film, of sorts, which sees a couple and their teenage son self isolating in the woods because of an unseen threat that’s taken over the world. But when a young couple and their child arrive seeking refuge the family’s domestic stability is shaken. Metaphorical, intelligent, and scary, It Comes at Night is one bleak quarantine movie.

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Watch in the US on: Netflix

Watch it on: Amazon Prime

The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

The seventh and most experimental of cult filmmaker Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, The Masque of the Red Death is a medieval fable set in an unnamed Italian village, where a sadistic prince (Vincent Price) lords over both the poor villagers outside his palace walls and the debauched guests at a ball within. As a plague sweeps the land, he orders the village burned to stop it — but that doesn’t prevent the Red Death from ultimately piercing the palace walls. Masque may be a fantasy, but its ultimate message — that disease and death do not distinguish between rich and poor — holds true.

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime

Outbreak

Outbreak (1995)

A classic infection blockbuster from Wolfgang Peterson where we see medics battling with a virus brought to a Californian town by an African monkey. Outbreak is glossy and thrilling and much more self contained than something like Contagion – making it less a pandemic movie but a race to contain the virus mixed with some high octane conspiracy theory business.

Watch in the US on: Netflix

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Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Panic in the Streets

Panic in the Streets (1950)

A lot of fantastic directors have tackled the pandemic theme at least once, and this time out it’s Elia Kazan. His noirish 1950 thriller is, like Sturges’ The Satan Bug, more about preventing a crisis than living through one, as a public health official and a New Orleans cop must track down three thugs — who inadvertently murdered a man carrying pneumonic plague and might now be infected themselves. The two leads — played by Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas — show the kind of determination and resilience that we can always use more of.

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Pontypool

Pontypool (2009)

Sort of a zombie movie, sort of an infection movie, and sort of a quarantine film this clever Canadian horror from Bruce McDonald sees Stephen McHattie as a radio DJ narrating an unfolding outbreak of something happening outside his studio. McHattie carries the movie, which is a smart way to simulate a pandemic and create a feeling of panic on a very low budget, via a film which takes place almost entirely in one room.

Watch in the US on: iTunes

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Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Quaratine

Quarantine (2008)

This American remake of [REC] starring Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter is fine but removes some of the strangeness and ambiguity of the original. Here the virus’ origins and effects are explicitly stated rather than left in the background. It’s still effective enough, and several of the best scares are ‘shock for shock’ with [REC].

Watch in the US on: Crackle

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

[REC]

[REC] (2007)

Less interested in global infrastructure and more in scaring the living crap out of audiences, this snappy Spanish horror from Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza sees a reporter and her cameraman go on a ride-along with an emergency services team who are called to an apartment building during a disturbance. Once they’re inside they realize some sort of infection is spreading fast and they’re suddenly quarantined inside. And things are about to get weirder. A very effective found footage movie with a nerve jangling ending, [REC] inspired three serviceable sequels, but none are as powerful as the original.

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime, GooglePlay 

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The Satan Bug

The Satan Bug (1965)

Produced and directed by John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven), The Satan Bug details the search by government agents for a missing vial containing the title pathogen, a biological weapon that could wipe out all human life in a matter of months. The film (like the novel its based on) is more of a tense chase thriller than a pandemic story, but it points up the implications of what could happen if a little glass tube full of death escapes into the world…whether its made by nature or not.

Watch in the US on: Amazon Prime

Shivers

Shivers (1975)

David Cronenberg’s debut movie was also an infection film – but one that’s quite different. Set in a very 70s luxury apartment building, Shivers begins with a doctor murdering and cutting up what looks like a schoolgirl before taking his own life. It’s a strange opener for an even stranger film, a satirical body horror that sees residents of the block become infected by a parasite which turns them into manic sex fiends. It’s a descent into hell movie with an orgiastic climax which really put Cronenberg on the map.

Watch in the US on: Tubi (Free)

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Train To Busan

Train To Busan (2016)

This excellent Korean zombie movie is a scary depiction of how fast a virus can spread. An absent father, Seok-woo, boards a train from Seoul to Busan with his daughter while one infected woman boards a different carriage. Soon every passenger in that carriage is infected and Seok-woo must work with other commuters to try to keep the healthy cars separate from the infected. Emotional and thrilling with breakneck pacing. A sequel, called Peninsula was due to land this summer, but will likely suffer the same fate as many other upcoming releases.

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Watch in the US on: Vudu (Free)

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime

Virus (1980)

Virus (1980)

Produced by Japan’s Toho Studios, Virus was directed by Kinji Fukasaku — who went on to make the legendary Battle Royale 20 years later — and was for its time the most expensive Japanese film in history. It uses an international cast, featuring stars such as Sonny Chiba, George Kennedy, Robert Vaughn, Chuck Connors, Olivia Hussey, Edward James Olmos and Glenn Ford, to detail the efforts of a small group of scientists to find the cure for a virus that has wiped out nearly all of humanity. The film’s length (156 minutes) and global scope give it an epic feel despite its overall bleak storyline.

Watch in the US on: Tubi (Free), Amazon Prime

Watch in the UK on: Amazon Prime