The Best Post-Apocalyptic Movies Based On Books, Ranked | Pretty Reel

The post-apocalypse ravages civilization, sparing the gloomy suburbs to the survivors. They are the remnants of society. They are full of hope and greed, waiting for a tomorrow that may not come. Days become moments of sameness, indistinguishable from the people they were. Efforts to keep their morale and identity alive spark speculation and unwarranted power struggles against each other. While these are untold cautionary tales, the surreal picture of a world they paint is about to come true.

The books safely describe the post-apocalypse on the page. The imagination runs wild with the imagery of laborious and disastrous situations. The films show the nuances and cruelty of the dangers faced by those who live in this existence. Film adaptations either match the dark scope of the novel or derail the story’s purpose. As readers become viewers, they either lend a critical eye or close their eyes to hold the source material in high regard.

10 The Day After (2004)

Centropolis Entertainment

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, causing irreversible damage to the environment. The citizens of New York are facing extreme weather conditions, including tornadoes, floods and a new ice age. Scientific inaccuracies also plague the film (with wolves being the only other animal to survive), 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 in people suffering from sudden blindness. As culture itself crumbles beneath them, the government only steps in to lock up the blind in concentration camps. Those who can see are said to be in control, helping the blind or encouraging them to fend for themselves. Although the adaptation is truncated, Blindness plays on a cruel irony: discerning what it means to look versus to see.

8 Battle Royale (2000)

Toei Company

Battle Royale is based on Koushun Takami’s controversial novel. In the near future of Japan, the country faces high unemployment rates and economic stagnation. As a result, juvenile delinquency is reaching 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 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 Never Let Me Go (2010)

DNA movies

Never Let Me Go is an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Kazuo Ishiguro where boarding school students learn that they were born organ donors. They must live to die and must die before adulthood in the style of Logan’s Run. A love triangle complicates their clinical fate in a future where life expectancy is extended by 100 years thanks to their recycled existence as clones. Both the novel and the film challenge ideas of what is humanity and the highest good.

6 The Hunger Games (2012)

Lions Gate

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 battle to the death from the Roman Colosseum. Suzanne Collins’ eponymous novel explores the perspective of treating life as if it were a game or a popularity contest. It’s not too different from reality TV shows, social media personas, and celebrity cult. 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 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 unfortunate outcome he theorized about and which is now true. 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 would you do if you couldn’t find anyone?

4 World War Z (2013)

Paramount Pictures

Written by Max Brooks, the son of Mel Brooks, World War Z is a modernized zombie apocalypse in which Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations investigator sets out to find a cure for the pandemic. The film was a revival of the zombie genre with a realistic scope of how human nature responds effectively and destructively in times of crisis.

3 I Am Legend (2007)

Photos 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 is immune, but those infected have suffered from vampirism and zombie-like qualities. The alternate ending stays true to the book, expressing the guilt and damage Neville caused to millions of people.

2 Children of Men (2006)

Universal images

PD James’ The Children of Men and its adaptation are set in the 2020s in the UK. Society remains infertile and the war has only accelerated human extinction. Immigrants seeking asylum from Her Majesty’s Government have been arrested or killed on the spot. One of the British government bureaucrats has decided to protect the only pregnant woman in the world who finds the cure for widespread infertility before using her baby as a political tool for a revolution.

1 The Road (2009)

Dimensional films

The Road is also the eponymous novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy, in which nuclear winter devastated virtually all life on Earth. A father and son must survive in a hopeless world filled with cannibals, rapists, gangs and thieves. Memories are slowly forgotten, food and shelter dwindle, and death is the last form of currency exchanged without hesitation. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee give heartbreaking performances that make you appreciate the bare necessities before they’re gone.

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The Best Post-Apocalyptic Movies Based On Books, Ranked | Pretty Reel