Last Friday, we put together a list of pandemic-themed movies to watch during the ongoing pandemic, for the kind of folks who only know how to cope with our current reality by looking at a similar one on film. As we noted then, we purposely kept out any films that featured zombies in any fashion, because we wanted to give those their own separate list. And that’s what this is. All of the entries below — available for streaming on Netflix, Prime Video, Zee5, and Hungama or purchase on Apple TV, Google Play Movies, and YouTube — are set in a world where a virus has ravaged humanity and turned them into human flesh-devouring creatures. Here are the best pandemic-themed zombie-starring horror movies available in India.
28 Days Later (2002) & 28 Weeks Later (2007)
Danny Boyle infused new life into the zombie horror genre with the 2002 original that’s, as you can tell, set four weeks after a rage-inducing virus sweeps across the world. It follows four survivors in a post-apocalyptic United Kingdom as they do their best to stay away from the infected. The 2007 sequel that takes place nearly six months later follows a different set of individuals, as the NATO military lands on British soil to rehabilitate the devastated country.
Both films present a dark and depressing view of the world, showing how humans are at times even worse off than zombies. 28 Days Later has some terrific political parallels, courtesy of writer Alex Garland, who would go on to make films such as Ex Machina. Some consider 28 Weeks Later to be a superior movie. The two films also popularised the use of fast-moving zombies.
Watch 28 Days Later on Apple TV, Google Play, or YouTube
Watch 28 Weeks Later on Apple TV, Google Play, or YouTube
World War Z (2013)
Speaking of fast-moving zombies, no other film on this list does them as fast as World War Z, the Brad Pitt-starrer that’s based on Max Brooks’ 2006 book of the same name. Bitten people turn into zombies as fast as well, sometimes in less than 15 seconds. Naturally, the film is also a fast-paced action thriller, which features a former United Nations investigator (Pitt) traversing the globe to find a cure for the outbreak before it takes over the world.
Like 28 Days Later, World War Z was commended for reinvigorating the realistic side of the zombie genre, and was rewarded with $540 million at the global box office — the highest-ever total for a zombie movie to date. No wonder then that a sequel was greenlit shortly after, with David Fincher signing on as director a few years later, but it fell through close to the start of filming. China’s ban on zombie movies is said to be the reason.
Watch World War Z on Amazon Prime Video, JioCinema, Apple TV, Google Play, or YouTube
Train to Busan (2016)
Some have described this Korean flick as World War Z — it too has fast-moving zombies — with a stronger emotional centre. It’s got class commentary, like the Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite. And writer-director Edgar Wright, known for the acclaimed zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead, called it the “best zombie movie [he had] seen in forever”. Naturally, Train to Busan was a certified box office hit in its domestic market, attracting over 10 million to theatres, in a country of 51 million.
In it, on her birthday, a divorced dad takes his daughter to see the mom in Busan, less than three hours by train from their home in Seoul. But things soon turn sour as an epidemic that is spreading through the country and turning infected into zombies also ends up on their train. With Busan declared as the only safe city, the father must figure out a way to keep them alive on the train ride.
Watch Train to Busan on Netflix, Apple TV, Google Play, or YouTube
Train to Busan is one of the best movies on Netflix in India
I Am Legend (2007)
After spending a decade in development, this Will Smith-starrer third adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel — about a lone survivor scientist (Smith) killing zombies by day and working on a cure by night — retained the title of the book but threw out most of the content, including the big climactic twist. Writer and producer Akiva Goldsman cited other zombie films as the reason, including recent release, 28 Days Later.
For one, the pandemic that wipes out humanity in I Am Legend is the result of a modified measles virus that was meant as a cancer cure. Two, there’s little intelligence to the film’s blood-sucking infected. But the most egregious change is its treatment of the protagonist, which we won’t spoil for those who haven’t seen the movie. The alternate slightly better ending is not available online.
Watch I Am Legend on Amazon Prime Video, Hooq, Apple TV, Google Play, or YouTube
For those looking for a zombie movie that’s low on action for the sake of shock and awe, this Netflix movie produces great results with a character-driven approach and its Australian outback setting that sets it apart — both narratively and visually — from others of its ilk. Plus, Cargo boasts of a commendable lead performance from Martin Freeman, whom you likely know as Dr. Watson from the BBC series Sherlock.
The film has a simple premise: a virus that has taken over the world turns infected into zombies in two days — 48 hours. After a widower (Freeman) discovers that he’s been bitten, he begins searching for a new guardian to take care of his baby daughter, all the while as he slowly transforms. Cargo was nominated for best film at Australia’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Watch Cargo on Netflix
If you’d like a reversal of Cargo’s premise, you should try Maggie, in which a caring father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) seeks out his infected daughter (Abigail Breslin, from Zombieland: Double Tap) and brings her home, despite being aware and told that she will turn into a zombie in a few weeks. The two then bond in this thoughtful father-daughter drama and reflect on the past, while simultaneously dreading the future.
The film wasn’t received too well, though many were in praise of Schwarzenegger’s work, appearing outside his macho action role type.
Watch Maggie on Zee5 or Hungama Play