Movie Reviews

Ranking Netflixs Recent String Of Apocalyptic Movies (Theres Been A Lot)


  • Since the end of 2018, Netflix has released eight apocalyptic movies.
  • Some, like 2023’s Leave The World Behind, have been a qualified success.
  • However, others, like IO, have failed to deliver on their intriguing premise.

While Netflix is now a major movie producer across all genres, the streaming service seems to have a particular fixation with apocalyptic movies. Since the release of Bird Box in late 2018, the platform has produced no less than eight original movies centered around the apocalypse or apocalyptic events. Considering the scale of production needed to realistically bring such environments to life, compared to other, more economical genres like romantic comedy, this number of movies about the end of the world might strike some as surprisingly high.

With so many different films from the past few years to choose from, genre aficionados are somewhat spoiled for choice. However, when comparing all eight side-by-side, it’s clear that some stand up better than others. While hits like Sandra Bullock’s Bird Box and Army of the Dead have broken into the mainstream and even started their own franchises, others, such as the anime Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, have been less successful. To help viewers decide how they should their time, here are all eight of Netflix’s recent apocalypse movies, ranked worst to best.


10 Realistic Apocalypse Movies That Will Keep You Up At Night

There are many scary apocalypse movies involving big monsters and adverse weather events, but ones with a touch of realism are often the scariest.

8 Awake (2021)

A Sci-Fi Thriller About Sleep Depravation



Awake is a sci-fi drama thriller that revolves around a mysterious pulse that wipes out all electronics and eradicates the natural human ability to sleep. In a race against the clock, before humanity succumbs to sleep-induced insanity and violence,  Scientists try to find a cure for unexplained insomnia. Their one hope comes from a former soldier’s daughter who seems to be immune to the effects of the mysterious affliction. 

Mark Raso

Release Date
June 9, 2021

Finn Jones , Shamier Anderson , Gil Bellows , Gina Rodriguez , Ariana Greenblatt , Jennifer Jason Leigh , Frances Fisher , Barry Pepper , Lucius Hoyos

96 minutes

Despite a paltry 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie did find an audience.

Though it boasts a potentially intriguing premise and strong acting pedigree, including the likes of Gina Rodriguez and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the 2021 thriller Awake is undoubtedly the least successful recent Netflix apocalypse movie. The film imagines a world where no one can go to sleep, sending the population into a panic and causing sleep deprivation.

Awake plays into the theme of Netflix’s end of the world movies because the event that caused the hysteria and sleep deprivation was a catastrophe (an unexplained solar flare) that saw all electronics destroyed while damaging people’s brains, causing the sleep disorder. As with most apocalyptic movies, it is the humans who become dangerous, as those going without sleep are losing their mental capacities, and others believe they should sacrifice the child who can still fall asleep.

While lack of sleep and the resulting paranoia could make for a gripping movie, Awake was criticized for its ponderous pacing and superficial approach to the premise. However, despite a paltry 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie did find an audience and was number 1 on Netflix in the days following its release.

7 IO (2019)

A Post-Apocalyptic Movie About Humans Fleeing Earth

Anthony Mackie as Micah looking at an object in and Sam Walden's (Margaret Qualley) hand in Io

Like many post-apocalyptic science fiction movies, IO is not short on big ideas. The film imagines an alternate present day in which Earth’s atmosphere has become toxic. This forces most of the population to survive instead on Io, a moon of Jupiter. Instead of an apocalyptic movie that focuses on the destruction of the Earth, this movie takes place after the event has already occurred, making it a post-apocalyptic movie that shows how people survive in a harsh environment.

The events of IO remain on Earth despite most survivors heading to Jupiter’s moon. The story specifically follows a young woman who lives by herself and plans to find a way to make Earth habitable again, making for a hopeful yet slower offering than many other apocalyptic movies. IO focuses on what it is like for someone fighting to save the world but struggling as everyone and everything dies around them.

Instead of seeking easy wins with spectacular action set-pieces, IO is a deliberately contemplative movie that feels undeniably stylish in places. However, critics almost unanimously agreed that the plotting was ponderously slow, ruining the story’s message. It currently sits at 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an even worse audience score of 19%.

6 Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (2023)

A Japanese Horror-Comedy Adaptation

Zom 100_ Bucket List of the Dead (2023) - Poster

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (2023)

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (2023) is a Japanese comedy-horror film directed by Yusuke Ishida. The story follows Akira, a young office worker who decides to embrace life after a zombie apocalypse frees him from his soul-crushing corporate job. Fueled by newfound freedom, Akira embarks on an adventurous quest to complete a hundred-item bucket list while navigating a world overrun by the undead.

Yusuke Ishida

Release Date
August 3, 2023

Eiji Akaso , Mai Shiraishi , Shuntarō Yanagi , Yui Ichikawa , Mayo Kawasaki , Akari Hayami , Miwako Kakei , Kazuki Kitamura

129 minutes

Based on a popular Japanese manga series, Zom 100 frustratingly fails to deliver on what could be a wacky and entertaining premise. A more irreverent example of the zombie apocalypse sub-genre, Zom 100 centers on a frustrated office worker who sees the world’s end as an opportunity to start living life to its fullest. The manga itself was highly praised, especially because Akira didn’t care that there were zombies in Japan — he only wanted to enjoy his new life.

The idea that the series came out around the time of the pandemic made this an interesting take, as it allowed the readers to follow a person who found joy in an otherwise depressive world. However, the live-action movie based on the manga didn’t quite hit the same notes. The joke here was the same as in Shaun of the Dead’s start, where office drones are comparable to zombies, but the optimistic journey of the hero never hits the same level as it did in the manga and comes across as slightly tepid.

A blend of comedy, drama, and horror, Zom 100 is a live-action remake that consistently struggles to juggle all its disparate components. However, the concept is inventive enough that many viewers found it worth watching despite a low audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (38%).

5 Bird Box Barcelona (2023)

A Spin-off Of The Sandra Bullock Original

Bird Box Barcelona Movie Poster

Bird Box Barcelona

Release Date
July 14, 2023

David Pastor , Àlex Pastor

Georgina Campbell , Mario Casas , Diego Calva , Michelle Jenner

111 Minutes

Following the worldwide success of the original Sandra Bullock horror movie, Bird Box Barcelona moves the action – unsurprisingly – to Catalonia, Spain. Sticking with the same premise, where a mysterious entity causes anyone who looks at it to take their lives, Bird Box Barcelona adds some interesting new elements to the franchise’s lore.

The location change allows the movie to continue its depiction of a global pandemic and also allows for some new reveals of what the people see before they take their own lives. It also opens things up by explaining a little more about the affliction and a possible way to stay alive. However, it also retreads a lot of the original movie’s beats and never really matches its levels of tension and fear.

Critics felt that the film, for all its potentially intriguing ideas, was significantly less suspenseful than its predecessor. Indicative of this is Bird Box Barcelona‘s Rotten Tomatoes score of 51% – significantly worse than the original. The audience score was even lower, showing that the follow-up was not as highly received as the Bullock movie that started it all.


Bird Box Barcelona Ending Explained – Sebastian’s Fate & How The Movie Sets Up Bird Box 3

Netflix horror sequel Bird Box Barcelona ends in suitably dramatic fashion and also sets up an intriguing direction for the next chapter to take.

4 Army of the Dead (2021)

Zack Snyder’s Stylish Return To The Zombie Genre

Considering that his 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake both revitalized the zombie genre and laid the foundations for his career, expectations were high ahead of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. While the finished movie may not have quite lived up to the hype, it is certainly a worthy addition to Netflix’s roster of apocalyptic movies. The gently comedic heist romp centers on a gang of thieves tasked with breaking into a Las Vegas casino vault. The only obstacle is the horde of zombies that have overtaken the city.

While its script occasionally falls flat, Army of the Dead delivers suitably pulpy visuals as Snyder returns to the genre that made him famous. The cast is all great, with Dave Bautista continuing to prove he is one of the best former WWE stars to head to Hollywood. It also added some original ideas not often seen in zombie apocalypse movies, including the Alpha, who controls all other zombies, and a strangely sympathetic Queen Zombie, who plays an important role in the plot.

The movie was not only a massive hit for Zack Snyder fans, but it was popular enough with Netflix viewers (75% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes) that it spawned a prequel, which changed the apocalyptic story to a heist movie with the safecracker from the original.

3 Bird Box (2018)

A Post-Apocalyptic Horror About Death By Suicide

In a world where seeing anything can cause someone to take their own life, Bird Box‘s greatest strength is its main weakness. The film’s core conceit, which requires star Sandra Bullock to travel blindfolded, means that this 2018 horror hit certainly delivers on tension. However, with its emphasis on the body’s senses, some critics felt that Bird Box was essentially a retread of an earlier (and more effective) genre release, A Quiet Place.

The movie sees Sandra Bullock star as Malorie Hayes, a woman who is blindfolded and leads two children (known only as Boy and Girl) through a post-apocalyptic landscape. They remain blindfolded because people who use their vision see something that causes them to take their own lives. While the comparison to aliens invading in A Quiet Place is warranted, this is just different enough because the killers are unseen and attack a person’s mind rather than their body.

When it hit Netflix, the movie (based on the novel by Josh Malerman) was generally well-received and proved extremely popular with audiences. Netflix figures suggest that 45 million households watched the film within the first week of release – the platform’s best-ever performance for an original movie at that time.


Bird Box’s Ending & Monsters Explained

Netflix’s Bird Box gives audiences mere glimpses of the movie’s eerie creatures. We explain the monsters, what they want, and what the ending means.

2 Don’t Look Up (2021)

A Frustrated Rallying Cry Against The Climate Crisis

Don’t Look Up was one of 2021’s most divisive releases.

An embittered and acerbic commentary on the media, climate change, and humanity’s unwillingness to engage with disaster, Don’t Look Up certainly doesn’t shy away from relevant issues. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, the film follows a pair of scientists desperately trying to warn the world about the impending impact of a rogue comet.

The big difference between this apocalyptic movie and other end of the world movies on Netflix is that it is about what happens when no one cares that the end is coming. This story is almost as if Armageddon just had the world’s governments decide to ignore the oncoming asteroid and pretend nothing was happening. As a result, it was frustrating to look at what happens when people warn the world that it is in danger and no one listens, which is a serious problem today.

Don’t Look Up was one of 2021’s most divisive releases, with critics torn over whether the movie’s message was too on-the-nose or a suitably satirical takedown of modern political and media culture. Either way, Don’t Look Up is certainly thought-provoking enough to rank among Netflix’s best apocalyptic movies. It was also successful on the awards circuit, with four Oscar nominations and a win at the Writers Guild of America Awards.

1 Leave The World Behind

A well-acted thriller with an important message

Leave the World Behind (2023) - Poster - Deer In Middle Of The Road

Leave the World Behind (2023)

A family’s getaway to a luxurious rental home takes an ominous turn when a cyberattack knocks out their devices, and two strangers appear at their door.

Release Date
December 8, 2023

Sam Esmail

141 Minutes

One of the best and most effective thrillers on Netflix, Leave the World Behind makes full use of its all-star cast to craft a compelling and heartbreaking apocalypse story. The movie stars Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke as terrified survivors of a mysterious event that is causing technology to fail across the country.

Based on the novel by Rumaan Alam, the movie has a lot under the hood, which is no surprise since Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) wrote the script and directed. The movie follows a small core of people as society breaks down, and they set out to survive, all while battling racism and class bias, even in a world where that should be the least important of its problems. This theme that George Romero used in creating his zombie movies plays out well here too, on a smaller scale.

The movie’s power comes from its sense of uncertainty since none of the characters fully understand what is going on. However, its simple but effective messageabout technology dependence and powerful performances across the board help make Leave The World Behind the best of Netflix’s apocalypse movies. Critics certified it fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and while the ending remains bleak and disturbing, it is the fifth most popular Netflix movie of all time (via Netflix).

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