What is a survivalist movie? That’s not an easy question to answer. After all, survivalist movies are rarely intended as such – when was the last time you saw a flick explicitly marketed at the survivalist crowd? In reality, survivalist movies can be any that carry themes ranging from self-sufficiency to conformity, totalitarianism to freedom. A survivalist movie can be about the challenges of living off the grid. It can be about the grid itself too – that is, the grid of social order and control. There’s a little of both on this list of the essential survivalist movies of 2018. Along with a mix of genres, there’s also a mix of upcoming theatrical released, and movies available for streaming right now. So if you’re not too keen on blowing money on movie tickets, you needn’t worry.
The Top New Survivalist Movies
This list does go on a bit, so if you’re just interested in the skinny, then here it is. The big survivalist movies you should be looking out for in 2018 are Captive State, The Purge: The Island, and Breaking In. None are guaranteed successes, but all appear to be promising options for possible survivalist classics. Whether or not they’ll actually achieve this is unclear – for now. So be sure to check these ones out, and decide for yourself whether they fit the bill.
Here’s a question every prepper has probably asked: what do you do when a stranger breaks in? Call the cops? Let the dog loose? Just grab the shotgun? Breaking In is about a woman trying to protect her home and family during a home invasion. Details of the plot are scant, but I guess you know what to expect with a tagline like “Payback is a Mother.” Sounds fun. Keep an eye out for this one around May 11, when it’s set for a US theatrical release.
Alien invasion movies are a dime a dozen, but Captive State might be set to put a new twist on the tired formula. It might even be a survivalist classic in the making. Based a decade after little green men subjugated the human race, the film will apparently focus on contrasting the lives of not only those who resist, but also the collaborators who willingly comply with their extraterrestrial overlords. This sounds like a great set-up for exploring themes of totalitarianism and compliance. Hopefully, Captive State will live up to expectations when it hits theaters on August 17.
The Purge: The Island
There’s a good reason The Purge franchise boasts plenty of survivalist fans. Imagine if, for 24 hours each year, laws are suspended and anything goes. More entertaining fun than anything else, previous Purges have delivered on gratuitous violence and a smattering of vague social commentary. However, the series has always (perhaps intentionally) kept the politics of Purge somewhat opaque. How did the yearly gore-fests start? What’s this future world like outside the purging? This 4th of July (gulp), we’ll find out, with The Island being a prequel to the original film. It promises to explore the very first purge, with all the action and machine gun fire we’ve come to expect from the franchise.
We live in a world where, day by day, privacy seems to increasingly be a luxury most of us can’t afford. How long will it be before the government knows every minor detail about you? This is the premise of Anon, a film about a near-future where there is no such thing as anonymity, and the words “mind your own business” are a thing of the past. The story picks up when investigator Sal Frieland uncovers a girl who has somehow avoided the mass surveillance that controls this grim society. Sal soon finds himself hunting a ghost in a world where nobody has secrets. In the age of mass surveillance, this seems like a timely survivalist movie. Anon doesn’t have a hard release date, but is expected to arrive in cinemas anytime from mid 2018 to 2019.
If you’re into war flicks, then Overlord might be worth splurging on popcorn and overpriced Coke for. The story of two American soldiers trying to survive behind enemy lines on D-Day, Overlord looks like 2018’s response to Dunkirk or Saving Private Ryan. It’s currently got an October 26 release date lined up, so look out for this one later in the year. Could be a good war survivalist movie.
Is this Mad Max meets Transformers? Details on Mortal Engines are scant, but it’s supposedly about mobile cities rolling across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, battling over ever-dwindling resources. It’s an interesting set up, and could make for a good survivalist movie. Having said that, I’m on the fence about this one, but will watch out for it when it hits cinemas on December 14.
The Darkest Minds
Remember how I mentioned alien invasion flicks are a dime a dozen? Ditto for post-apocalyptic movies, it seems. The Darkest Minds is set in a bleak future where 98 percent of America’s kids were killed by a plague. The survivors develop superpowers for some reason, and are put in internment camps. One such kid escapes, and joins a resistance group fleeing the government. If it sounds like a poor man’s Hunger Games, then you’re not the only one. Having said that, given how surprisingly popular The Hunger Games has been among preppers, this one could go down well.
The Darkest Minds is set to hit theaters on September 14.
James Franco isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there’s not much in terms of detail regarding his next film. Future World is expected to be released some time in 2018. All we know is that it’s a post apocalypse film about a boy scrounging the ruins of society for medicine for his sick mother. Beyond that, all we’ve got to go by are some shots of Franco and his cast decked out in grimy, Fallout-style raider leathers. It’s either going to be the next big survivalist movie, or just another Mad Max wannabe.
Alien Sleeper Cell
Produced by the minds behind District 9, Alien Sleeper Cell promises to bring a new twist on an old formula. Details are extremely scant on this movie, which is expected to be released anytime from 2018 onward. Will it be a potent survivalist movie classic along the lines of a classic like They Live, or just another big blockbuster bug hunt?
It’s Predator. Any questions?
Top Survivalist Movies to Watch Right Now
Hate paying for cinema tickets? Don’t worry, because 2018 has already seen plenty of great films hit Netflix. We’ve got some old classics returning for a second change at life, and some new ones from recent years that are available to watch right now. In terms of survivalist movies, some of the highlights include The Civil War, Peter and the Farm and Brother’s Keeper. If you haven’t seen any of these ones yet, do yourself a favor and check them out this year.
Peter and the Farm
Peter Dunning is the owner of Mile Hill Farm in Vermont. He’s self sufficient, lives mostly off the grid, and is an experienced farmer. He knows how to survive on his own in tough conditions, and initially his farm looks much like any survivalist’s dream. At first, Peter and the Farm is all about the titular character passing on his immense wealth of agricultural knowledge. However, Peter himself is illustrative of the serious challenges of long-term self-sustainability. His hard life has left him alone, with three failed marriages and his children long gone. His struggles with alcohol and depression turn his seemingly idyllic life on its head, and reveal the unpleasant reality of how difficult it can be to live off the grid.
Nothing is sugar-coated, but neither is the film condemning. Instead, it’s more of a tragedy, seasoned with a mix of bright optimism and crushing hopelessness. It’s not exactly heart-warming, but Peter’s story matters, and makes for one of the most sobering survivalist movies out there. You should consider this mandatory viewing for anyone considering homesteading, survivalism or self-sufficiency. Peter and the Farm originally released in 2016, but is now available on Netflix.
This documentary encapsulates the struggle of rural America in a controversial court case that shook a small farming community. The story begins with the mysterious death of William “Bill” Ward, a farmer who lived in isolation with his three brothers. At first, it’s unclear whether Bill died of natural causes, and police eventually arrest one of his brothers, Delbert. The semi-literate Delbert allegedly waived his rights during police questioning, and allegedly coerced into signing a confession. While the documentary’s narrative is pushed forward by the investigation, that’s not the real focus here.
Instead, Brother’s Keeper more a story of rural poverty, the difficulties life off the grid, and the other grim realities facing so many of fly-over country’s denizens. For these reasons, this is well deserving of its place as one of the most necessary survivalist movies of all time. Brother’s Keeper first released back in 1992, but is now available on Netflix for the first time.
Under the Sun
Films often use alien invasions and post-apocalyptic wastelands as illustrations of the follies of totalitarianism and barbarity – but they’ve got nothing on the real thing. Under the Sun follows the everyday life of a North Korean family. Filmmaker Alvaro Longoria secured full permission from North Korean authorities to film this seemingly banal propaganda reel. At first, Under the Sun might look like something so compliant, it could easily have appeared on KCNA.
However, the real movie isn’t the heavily scripted scenes with family members; instead, the story plays out between set pieces, when Longoria continues to film after the script has run its course. In these in-between moments, flashes of the real North Korea slip though the propaganda gauntlet. This is what makes Under the Sun so powerful; the contrast between the official narrative and the sheen-less reality beneath. As a one of the most important survivalist movies around, this one serves as a primer on propaganda, and how to undermine it. Under the Sun released in 2016, and is now available on Netflix.
The Death of Stalin
Most survivalist movies that focus on politics tend to be about the rise of totalitarianism; but what about its fall? The Death of Stalin follows the final days of the Soviet ruler’s life, and how his death threw the upper echelons of his regime into chaos. It looks at how senior Soviet officials horse-traded behind the scenes to not only settle on a successor, but to protect themselves from potential future purges. It might seem like an unusual addition to a list of survivalist movies, not the least because the titular character (spoiler) doesn’t quite survive. However, it does offer some very important lessons. It’s smart, mostly historically accurate and provides a nuanced insight into the internal workings of a Stalinist regime. Intrigued yet? The Death of Stalin released in late 2017, and is currently available on Netflix.
The Civil War
You might be surprised to see this one on the list. Back in 1990, The Civil War impressed viewers with what is arguably the most comprehensive documentary ever made on the American Civil War. As a mini-series, it painstakingly combed through primary source material, including diary entries and letters penned by everyone from generals and politicians, to ordinary troops fighting for their lives in the mud.
Like The Death of Stalin, The Civil War is among of the few entries here that can’t be considered survivalist movies in the traditional sense. On the other hand, how can you not know the history of the civil war? Alas, if your VHS machine is clogged with dust, you needn’t worry; this classic is finally available on Netflix. It’s worth a watch for the soundtrack alone, which was largely composed with period-accurate instruments blasting out battle tunes. Turn the sound up, whip up some hoe cakes and let those battle drums toss you into the melee.