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the cloverfield paradox
Image via Netflix

The 11 best natural disaster movies on Netflix

Just in time for the end of the world.

It’s the end of the world as we know it! This classic quote somehow rings more true lately. Between political and climate upheaval, it certainly feels like an eschatological end of times. Storylines that once seemed futuristic and far-fetched are now hitting just a little too close to home in our opinion. Thankfully, Netflix is here to ensure that we are all well-prepared for the end of the world, by providing us with a well-stocked supply of natural disaster movies and documentaries.

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With everything from sci-fi thrillers to true natural disaster survivor stories, we are here for this pre-apocalyptic binge of post-apocalyptic tales. These Netflix exclusives can teach us everything from how to thrive during a zombie attack, how to entertain yourself as the last person on Earth as well as the means to survive a slightly more likely real-life disaster. Although the way things are going, a zombie outbreak is about as likely an outcome as any. We say it’s best to be prepared for all possibilities. So strap on your air supply and batten down your real-life hatches, because these 10 natural disaster flicks will have you shaking in your space boots.

The Wandering Earth

the wandering earth II
Image via China Film Group Corporation

The Wandering Earth has become China’s third highest-grossing film of all-time, and with good reason. Loosely based on a novella by author Liu Cixin, the storyline sets the scene for a bleak future in a time when the sun itself is dying out. Set in the year 2061, the world (or what’s left of it) must somehow band together to propel Earth to the nearest solar system. In order to survive the centuries-long voyage, people live in underground cities. Yet, when a mechanical malfunction threatens the mission’s success, a rescue team is selected to repair the engines before certain disaster strikes. It is an edge-of-your-seat adventure, that takes viewers on a wild ride into the future, space, and beyond.

Earthstorm

Earthstorm Netflix promo poster
Image via Netflix

It’s man vs. nature in this chilling documentary about what happens when humanity takes on Mother Nature and loses. Big time. Earthstorm is a documentary detailing some of the worst modern-day natural disasters our planet has seen. Be it by land or sea, planet Earth is lashing out, and the documentary details exactly how and why we are seeing this dramatic increase in storms, not to mention damage. This four-part series gives an in-depth look at events such as Hurricane Ida, the earthquakes in Japan, and the volcanic eruptions of Iceland. Survivors of these incidents provide detailed interviews of exactly what it was like to live through these experiences and see the full force of nature at its finest, or at least most destructive. If you weren’t concerned about climate change before, you will be, as this commentary lays out in no uncertain terms what humanity can expect from this big blue ball we live on in the upcoming years.

#Alive

#Alive Netflix promo poster
Image via Netflix

This Korean-made film came out shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic and proved surprisingly predictive. In fact, it hits a little close to home, given the world’s recent and still somewhat current circumstances with the Coronavirus. In #Alive, a young gamer named Joon Woo is forced to lock himself alone in his apartment after a deadly virus ravages the city, turning its citizens into zombies. Joon Woo finds himself isolated and without technology or a way out. Yet just when he is beginning to give up all hope, he finds another survivor. The storyline is surprisingly poignant as many of us also experienced the same sense of isolation and despair during the pandemic quarantine. However, the film does add an extra element of zombies to the mix, just to ensure we are fully prepared for all possibilities.

Aftershock

Aftershock Netflix promo photo
Image via Netflix

Year after year, packs of hopeful climbers make their way to the towering peak of Everest; honing in on it like moths drawn to the flame. While many have succeeded in reaching her 29,032-foot summit, every good climber knows, it is Everest who makes the rules, and ultimately decides who makes it to the top, and who does not. Well, this particular year the mountain had a lot to say on that matter as a thunderous earthquake rocked everything from Everest all the way to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. Aftershock tells the unbelievable true story of the survivors of the earthquake, and how it felt to be at ground zero as the Earth literally shifted beneath them. The documentary includes interviews with foreign climbers, and local residents as all aspects of this devastating natural disaster are covered. The interviewees share how they managed to survive, and what followed in the hours and days after. Check out this chilling true story of an earthquake that rocked a nation and the survivors who lived to tell the tale, and don’t forget to take notes.

The Midnight Sky

Midnight Sky Netflix promo poster
Image via Netflix

In this compelling tale of triumph and tragedy, George Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a lone academic based in the Arctic, and one of the last people left on Earth. After a disaster kills off most of the population, it also contaminates the Earth’s surface with radiation. Unfortunately, this information has not made it to the crew of the spaceship Aether, set to return soon with no idea what danger they will be coming back to. Despite his failing health, Lofthouse does everything he can to get the message to the crew before it’s too late. Once again, this one hit a little too close to home for us with the threat of deadly radiation and Arctic solo survival. Let’s just hope the ending of our own stories turns out a little less bleak than this one does.

Fire In Paradise

Fire In Paradise Netflix Promo Poster
Image via Netflix

Paradise, California was to many exactly that, a paradise. Set in Butte County, California the sprawling forests and scenery of the small town made it an ideal home for many. Yet that all changed one dark day, as a forest fire suddenly and unexpectedly began to rage out of control, resulting in 88 deaths. The documentary provides real-life footage of the day of the fire and interviews with the survivors, many of whom give shocking details of what it was like to watch as a force of nature took everything they had known in just a matter of seconds. It is a chilling look at what can happen when nature decides to tear down, everything man has built.

IO: Last On Earth

IOS Last Man On Earth Poster
Image via Netflix

This science fiction film follows the story of scientist Sam Weldon, played by Margaret Qualley, as she continues to live on an Earth deemed uninhabitable by most of humanity. As much of the population of the planet has now relocated to a moon of Jupiter called “IO,” Weldon stays behind, alone with her plan to make the planet livable again. She will not be alone for long, though, as her radio transmission, attracts Anthony Mackie’s Micah. Yet, much to Welden’s disappointment, he believes that all hope is lost. Now, it’s up to Sam to convince him – and the rest of humanity – otherwise. Is it just us, or does this seem like a semi-plausible future for our planet?

The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari

The Volcano Promo Photo
Image via Netflix

A fun-filled family vacation turns into a nightmare for a group of tourists who become stranded on the island volcano of Whakaari, off the coast of New Zealand. This horrifying true story documents the events leading up to and following the volcanic eruption that claimed 22 lives. In never before seen footage and audio, the viewer hears the horrifying aftermath of the explosion, and the shouts of the survivors as the tragedy of what had just occurred sinks in. While many did not make it off the island, even the survivors detail how their lives would never be the same. It is a less-than-subtle reminder that ultimately man is at the mercy of the natural world, even when we feel like it is the other way around.

The Colony

The Colony Netflix promo
Image via Netflix

The Colony is a fictional (for now) movie that follows the storyline of a group of astronauts assigned to return to the mostly abandoned Earth to see if perhaps it has become livable once more. The group aboard the Ulysses 2 are part of the elite who were able to escape the climate change-induced storms that ravaged the planet. Since their time away, the newly formed colony’s inhabitants have become infertile, so they are returning to see if anyone remains, and if the Earth itself is now habitable again. There are a lot of twists and turns including love stories and betrayal, yet ultimately the overarching theme remains centered around the natural disasters that drove humanity from its home planet. An excellent example at least of what not to do during a global crisis, at least if you want to have hope of furthering the human race.

https://youtu.be/PvgRCuNeS7w

Don’t Look Up

don't look up
via Netflix

Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep – need we say more? This star-studded cast brings to life the story of a giant comet heading straight to Earth. The only problem is that no one seems to care. The social media-obsessed, indifferent, and seemingly uninterested public and politicians do not seem to grasp the gravity of the situation, and it is up to this all-star cast to convince them. It certainly paints a picture that feels all too familiar. It is no surprise that DiCaprio makes an appearance in this film, as it echoes his own efforts to warn the public and politicians of the devastating effects of climate change. Perhaps his character will prove more successful. Check out this riveting could-be-true (but isn’t) story.

The Cloverfield Paradox

Cloverfield Paradox
Image via Netflix

The third installment in the Cloverfield franchise, Paradox begins with a group of astronauts tasked with a special mission. Set in a space station in the year 2028 as the Earth undergoes an energy crisis, the group must test a particle accelerator. Disaster soon strikes as the accelerator malfunctions causing a scientific paradox, and as the astronauts work desperately to fix the problem, they begin to lose their minds before eventually releasing an unknown force that further threatens the fate of the planet and humanity itself. So now, the pressure is really on to figure out a solution before the complete collapse of civilization as they know it.

We are all screwed. At least that’s how it feels after watching these 10 movies and documentaries that remind us just how small we are compared to the forces of nature. Zombie apocalypses, massive storms, and comets from the sky all paint bleak potential pictures of the future of the human race. Yet with these horrifying possibilities presented in the movies, comes one overarching theme. The resilience of the species. Despite the odds, at least a few of us seem to make it out of these harrowing experiences unharmed. So perhaps there is hope for us after all, and these movies show us how.


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Author
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Bethany Nicole
Bethany is an LA-based freelance writer and astrologer who specializes in entertainment, relationship and true crime writing. To see more of her work, follow her on Instagram @bethanynicolelove.