I want to clarify that most of the doomsday movies out there are a bunch of Hollywood BS. The heroes make ridiculous decisions that would get them killed in a true SHTF survival scenario. The writers gloss over the less-entertaining aspects of disasters.
No, because that doesn’t make for good entertainment.
With that said, there is some value to watching prepping movies. Aside from being entertaining, they are a good way to introduce the topic of disaster preparedness to your family or even your friends and neighbors.
As you watch one of the ridiculous doomsday movies, go ahead and pause it to ask, “What would you do in that situation?” or “Did you know that you need to boil water when the power goes out?” or (for your neighbors) “Do you have a 30 day supply of emergency food and water?”
1. 28 Days Later
A bike messenger wakes up from a coma to discover that a virus called “Rage” has spread through London. He finds a group of survivors who band together for survival. This isn’t your typical zombie virus movie and it is really well directed. There are also some good survival tips in it, like collecting rainwater.
2. The Road
This might be the best movie for introducing the idea of Bugging Out to your family. After the apocalypse, a father and his son travel to the sea to find safety. There are important survival lessons here about how people can become savage in disasters, wilderness survival, and how to carry your gear.
3. The War Game
Released in 1965, this doomsday movie is an oldie but really worth watching. It is filmed in documentary style and shows the events leading up to and after a nuclear attack. There are a lot of survival themes here from mental preparedness to mass chaos to bugging out to the country.
4. The Book of Eli
If you can suspend your disbelief, then this is a really entertaining survival movie to watch. Played by Denzel Washington, a “lone wolf” sets off across the country to deliver a book which could save humanity. You will learn survival lessons like why low-tech is as important as high-tech weapons, not to trust anyone, and bartering.
5. The Mist
Here’s a doomsday movie that doesn’t usually make it to other lists. The supernatural horror movie written by Stephen King shows what happens when a mist takes over a town and residents have to be holed up in order to survive. There is a really controversial ending which teaching you the importance of mental preparedness and keeping hope.
6. The Postman
If you want to watch a doomsday movie that you can laugh at, then this is it (though I’m admittedly biased because I don’t like Kevin Costner). In the movie, an apocalyptic event has sent the world back into the Dark Ages (EMP anyone?). Some survivors band together to form communities and others form militias. You’ll learn how stupid it is to travel when SHTF and bartering beats money.
7. Right At Your Door
In this 2010 movie, a dirty bomb goes off in Los Angeles. A woman has to seal up her home – even though her husband isn’t home. When he comes back, they are forced to communicate through the barricade of tape and plastic shopping bags. There are some obvious criticisms with the survival advice given in the film (which will make for a good discussion about what you should really do) but the mental preparedness message is good.
8. War of the Worlds
This movie is great entertainment and you might even be able to squeeze in a few survival lessons too! When aliens invade the world to harvest human bodies, they use an EMP attack to destroy all electronics. Tom Cruise takes his family to bug out. Since he doesn’t have a plan, he has to figure things out on the way. The lesson? Have your Bug Out Bag packed and plan for disasters!
9. The Colony
This sci-fi horror movies is about a group of people who have to live in underground bunkers to survive the ice age induced by climate change. The movie features cannibalism and some other survival extremes, which makes it a good movie for asking “how far would you go to survive?”
As far as doomsday movies go, this one is different from your standard “giant comet coming to crash into the earth” or “alien invasion” movie. It shows how a virus can quickly turn into a mass pandemic and the importance of being able to hunker down and isolate yourself from the contagion. Of course the plot focuses on finding a vaccination for it, but it’s still a pretty good movie to watch to start a discussion about pandemic prepping.
11. The Day After Tomorrow
Despite how unbelievable the scenario is (it is Hollywood after all), I actually liked this movie. I particularly like that they included a homeless man in the movie and he is the most prepared for survival with all of the skills he learned on the street. Read Survival Skills Learned from the Homeless here.