The best post-apocalyptic movies based on books, ranked
The post-apocalypse destroys civilization, saving the bleak suburbs to the survivors. They are the remnants of society. They are full of hope and greed, waiting for a tomorrow that may never come. Days become moments of sameness, indistinguishable from the people of the past. Efforts to keep their morals and identity alive ignite fanciful and irrational power struggles against each other. While these are unspoken warnings, the surreal picture of a world they paint is about to come true.
The books safely depict the post-apocalypse on the page. The imagination runs wild with images of difficult and disastrous situations. The films show the nuances and brutality of the dangers faced by those living in this existence. Film adaptations either match the dark scope of the novel or derail the story’s purpose. As readers become viewers, they can either cast a critical eye or close their eyes to respect the source material.
10 The Day After (2004)
Natural disasters plague the Earth, leaving the dead unprepared or barely alive in The Day After Tomorrow. The film is based on the novel The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, which predicts that global warming will lead to climate change, which will cause irreversible damage to the environment. The citizens of New York are faced with extreme weather conditions, including tornadoes, floods and a new ice age. Scientific inaccuracies also plague the film (with wolves being the only other animals alive), but its motivation to rebuild a better society is timely.
9 Blindness (2008)
Brazil’s Fox Film
Based on the novel by the same Portuguese author and Nobel laureate José Saramago, Blindness shows the effects of an epidemic among people suffering from sudden blindness. As the culture itself crumbles beneath them, the government steps in only to imprison the blind in concentration camps. The sighted are said to be in control, helping the blind or encouraging them to defend themselves. Although the adaptation is truncated, Blindness plays on a cruel paradox: understanding what it means to look versus seeing.
8 Battle Royale (2000)
Battle Royale is based on the controversial novel by Koushun Takami. In Japan’s near future, the country is facing high levels of unemployment and economic stagnation. As a result, juvenile delinquency reaches incredible numbers. To combat this, the government sends a random group of delinquent students to compete in a Battle Royale game. You know, society is royally screwed when teenagers kill each other, which unfortunately happened in real life. For better or worse, the film has inspired similar post-apocalyptic media such as The Squid Game, the Fortnite video game, and The Hunger Games series of young adult novels and films.
7 Don’t Let Me Go (2010)
Never Let Me Go is an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s eponymous novel in which boarding school students learn that they are born organ donors. They must live to die and must die before adulthood Logan’s Run style. A love triangle complicates their clinical fate in a future where life expectancy has been extended by 100 years thanks to their recycled existence as clones. Both the novel and the film challenge ideas of what humanity is and the highest good.
6 The Hunger Games (2012)
Gate of Lions
The Hunger Games pit volunteers or “tributes” from different factions of society called Districts against each other. The annual event entertains millions of viewers in a televised fight to the death from the Roman Colosseum. Suzanne Collins’ eponymous novel explores the perspective of treating life like a game or popularity contest. It’s not so different from reality TV shows, social media personas, and celebrity cults. Dying, living and even killing for them has unfortunate, sometimes irreversible consequences.
5 The Quiet Land (1985)
A flash of light transforms the world into a cold, silent and empty vessel. Scientist Zac Hobson suspects that his work on a global energy project for the military is responsible for the lack of living things. He is forced to retrace his steps and calculate the reason behind the bad outcome that he imagined and is now real. Craig Harrison’s sci-fi novel and adaptation of The Quiet Earth puts the viewer in the shoes of a seemingly lonely man and asks the question: what do you do if you can’t find anyone?
4 World War Z (2013)
Written by Max Brooks, the son of Mel Brooks, World War Z is a modernized zombie apocalypse starring Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations investigator who sets out to find a cure for the pandemic. The film is a revival of the zombie genre with a realistic scope of how human nature reacts effectively and destructively in times of crisis.
3 I Am Legend (2007)
Pictures of the village tour
Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name has been adapted three times, first as The Last Man on Earth and then as The Omega Man. Will Smith plays virologist Dr. Robert Neville, who helped find a cure for cancer that turned into a virus, wiping out the population. He was immune, but those infected suffered from vampirism and zombie-like characteristics. The alternate ending stays true to the book, expressing the guilt and harm Neville caused to millions of people.
2 Children of Men (2006)
PD James’ The Children of Men and its adaptation are set for the 2020s in the UK. Society remains barren and war only accelerates human extinction. Immigrants seeking asylum from Her Majesty’s Government were arrested or killed on the spot. One of the British government bureaucrats decides to protect the only pregnant woman in the world who found a cure for mass infertility before using her baby as a political tool for a revolution.
1 The Road (2009)
The Road is also an eponymous novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy, in which nuclear winter has destroyed almost all life on Earth. The father and son must survive in a hopeless world full of cannibals, rapists, gangs and thieves. Memories are slowly being forgotten, food and shelter are dwindling, and death is the last form of currency traded without hesitation. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee give heartbreaking performances that make you appreciate empty needs before they disappear.