6 Survival Movies on Netflix

Want to feel the rush and adrenaline of a great survival story to cut through your mundane day? Check out these six survival movies on Netflix.
6 Survival Movies on Netflix

When The Last of Us (2023) came out, its post-apocalyptic narrative won over even those who weren’t familiar with the video game that inspired the acclaimed series. Even before that show, the survival thriller genre has given us a spate of jarring films and shows about the impact of climate change, such as Don’t Look Up (2021), the effect of viruses taking over, such as Outbreak (1995), political tyranny destroying humanity, like in V for Vendetta (2005), or simply, the world ending, such as 2012 (2009). Then there’s the thrilling set of Malayalam survival films that you would want to explore, especially after watching Manjummel Boys (2024).

From movies about being stranded on a small island to navigating the countryside after all the zombies have taken over or being trapped in places you visit every day, the range of survival movies on Netflix is exciting and diverse. Here are the six survival movies on Netflix that you must watch.

Cast Away (2000)

‘A man stranded on a deserted island’ is not a unique storyline by any means, but when you build on it with a stunning soundtrack, fantastic acting by Tom Hanks (but that is expected with his happy roles and 5 shades of grey) and an unpredictable ending, it will survive (pun intended) as a long-standing recommendation of a survival movie on Netflix.

Chuck (Hanks) is a FedEx delivery person. His job forces him to stay away from home a lot, which is one of the reasons why he and his partner Kelly (Helen Hunt) have yet to get married. Chuck’s first flight after a life-changing conversation with Kelly ends with him getting stranded on an island for an extended period. Over the years, he develops coping mechanisms and survival strategies, including befriending a volleyball (and naming him Wilson) that he found among the packages that also got stranded with him.

Cargo (2017)

Though this movie stands at the intersection of zombie horror and survival, it’s more about the latter. You barely see any zombies. Instead, you see a frantic father, Andy (Martin Freeman), traversing the wilderness in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event to find someone who could protect his daughter. It’s based on the 2013 eponymous short film.

Cargo doesn’t discuss how or why the zombie apocalypse happened, and it doesn't use gore as its central theme. It doesn’t have the signature dark and dreary vibe that most zombie flicks do. Rather, it showcases stunning vistas of Australia and the vastness of the countryside. 

The survival element is elevated much more given that Andy is not looking for sanctuary for himself but for his little toddler Rosie, and his unusual friendship with Thoomi (Simone Landers), an unfortunate victim being used as bait to kill the infected.

Mili (2022)

As a Hindi remake of the Malayalam film Helen (2019), Mili lived up to its source material, probably because Mathukutty Xavier directed both versions.

Mili (Janhvi Kapoor) is working at a fast food joint in a mall to earn some money on the side as she prepares to study outside India. When she gets trapped in the cold storage when all the employees have clocked out, it becomes a night of frigid temperatures and a harrowing search by her single father (Manoj Pahwa) and boyfriend Sameer (Sunny Kaushal).

The survival storyline is complemented by an excellent sound design that adds to the sense of dread. The feeling of unsettled peace during the freezer scenes contrasts with the hapless chaos outside. Kapoor’s acting in this film is convincing and bold.                                                                                                

The elements of irony injected throughout the plot (Mili is in a cold war with her father during the first half of the film) evoke some worried giggles. The underlying themes of a single father not wanting his daughter to move away, his disdain for her relationship with her slacker boyfriend, and other social themes make this movie more than just any other survival movie on Netflix.

Against The Ice (2022)

This film is based on the true story of Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen, a Danish polar explorer who navigated the coasts of Greenland in 1909. Against The Ice is a survival movie on Netflix that is as much about the thrill and scare of survival as it is about the poignant conversations between Mikkelsen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Iversen (Joe Cole) as they battle with storms, hallucinations, sleep deprivation, food scarcity, animal attacks, and more.

With exceptional cinematography that genuinely encapsulates the intricacies of ‘humankind v. nature’, Against The Ice does a great job of educating us about what happened with Mikkelsen and the history and social conditions of that period. This also means that it may not be as fast-paced as most other survival films on Netflix, but are real-life expeditions always going to be brimming with chaos each second?

If you like the movie enough to go down a rabbit hole of research threads about what actually happened with the explorers, you will find that the makers of this film exhibit astonishing attention to detail because the set design, props, etc., are so similar to the original photos. The cherry on top is the soundtrack that complements the fantastic acting.

Nowhere (2023)

Here’s a tense survival movie on Netflix that will keep you at the edge of your seat from the beginning while also pushing you to introspect about your life versus the life of Mia (Anna Castillo) and Nico (Tamar Novas), a couple that decide to leave Spain due to the gruesome way in which the military and government are controlling the human population to avoid shortage of necessities during a global crisis.

The military snatched away their firstborn, and the couple wants to do everything within their capabilities to prevent their soon-to-be-born child from being killed, too.

The movie unfolds with the countless struggles they encounter while escaping in a cargo ship container, where Mia ultimately finds herself alone after a series of incidents. A heavily pregnant Mia has to survive in a container alone; her only companion is the water that is slowly filling up the container.

The vast seas on the way to Ireland will captivate you, as will the resilience Mia exhibits to ensure she and her child survive.

If the sign of a good script is to create conflict that forces a viewer to root for the protagonist, this movie aces it, as you will be hoping for Mia and Nico’s safety right till the end.

Society of the Snow (2023)

If you haven’t heard of the fate of the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, Society of the Snow is the survival movie on Netflix you need to watch for a visually evocative take on the incident.

This Netflix original will keep you engrossed even as it deeply moves you. The real story it’s based on is impactful enough; adapting it and elevating it while being sensitive and authentic to the journey of those on the plane, and their dedication to surviving and escaping the Andes after the crash, is a tall ask.

The movie spans the day of the crash of the plane, which had the Old Christians Club rugby union team, along with their team doctor, among other victims, up until the 72nd day, on which a rescue helicopter picked them up. 

The movie's director spoke to the team members and incorporated incidents from their firsthand accounts into the screenplay. The cinematography reflects human resilience, grit, and compassion—the cornerstones of survival.

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