Survival film

September 20, 2021 // 19 minutes read

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Best Survival Movies - Bugoutbill.com

Best Survival Movies - Bugoutbill.com
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What makes a good survival movie? The best survival movies come with the essential element – the characters’ background story, their unimaginable skills to survive given the limited resources, and who they are fighting with. You might be wondering… Of the timeless question – what will you do if you’re left on a deserted island? – give up or go on to fight another day? The only objective of survival movies is to survive and stay alive. It’s amazing how a story of survival can be based on true events of real life issues of what the character has encountered. If you’re bored and want to kill time… Here are BugoutBill’s top survival movies to binge watch in your free time, including a true story of the Vietnam War, Navy pilots, Alaskan wilderness, etc. Our survival movies have the stories of survival on shark infested waters, near fatal injuries in outer space, and so much more – all of which will leave you gasping. It’s how we roll…

Best Survival Movies

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

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1 - The Maze Runner

Enter the maze and unlock the mystery – will they be able to survive?

This story is based on the best selling novel of James Dashner, The Maze Runner. It follows Thomas (Dylan O’ Brien), who finds himself in an unfamiliar place surrounded by a massive maze and boys he doesn’t know.

Aside from the fact that Thomas has no memory of who he is, even his name per.

Years of trying to find an escape route…

The boys before Thomas search the maze during the day and go back before night falls – no one survives a night in the maze.

At night a monstrous and deadly creature which they called Griever, roams around the maze. Unfortunately, one of the boys (Ben) got stung by the Griever and passed away. 

The next day…

Alby and Minho retraced the steps of Ben inside the Maze, but they faced dire situations in which Alby got stung, and Minho had to drag him. But it’s too late. The maze is closing.


Thomas ran into the maze to help, and the three of them got trapped. However, Thomas strategized to lure the Griever to be crushed in the passageway works. That said, the three of them survived the night in Maze and returned safe and sound to the Glade.

Everything changes…

When the last one to enter the maze is a girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), she recognizes Thomas, but Thomas doesn’t seem to know her.

Fortunately, Teresa has the cure for Alby. Thomas became a runner alongside Minho and went back into the Maze, trying to find the exit.

One night…

The maze entrance didn’t close, and Grievers went inside the Glade and killed some of the boys.

From there, due to the commotion and Thomas getting stung, he remembered everything that the boys are test subjects, and he and Teresa worked with the organization named WCKD to facilitate the study.

Their story does not end here…

The books follow a sequel where they escape the maze and continue the battle in The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials and The Maze Runner: The Death Cure.

If you want to uncover the mystery of The Maze – join the runners as they survive the unfairness of life. This action-packed adventure movie will leave you breathless.

2 - The Life of Pi

The Life of Pi 2012 is from the academy award winning director Ang Lee and is based on the best selling novel of Yann Martel with the same name.

When all you’ve ever known is lost – where will you find your courage?

A survival film about the epic journey of a young man Pi Patel who finds himself with wild animals, thoroughly testing his mental fortitude.

This film highlights Pi Patel – sharing his life story with a novelist about how he survived being shipwrecked and adrift in a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker.

Yes, a tiger in a boat with him.

How Pi manages to survive is what this film is all about. A life of adventure and hope. A life of friendship that will leave you questioning your beliefs and survival skills.

The Life of Pi is one of the best survival films that earned critical acclaim and commercial success with over $609 million in box office takings worldwide.

Not only that…

This survival movie was nominated for no less than three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Director. It was even nominated eleven times at the 85th Academy Awards and won Best Director for Ang Lee.

3 - Bird Box

A Netflix survival film from academy award winner Susanne Bier. Here you’ll meet boy, girl, and Sandra Bullock’s (Malorie Hayes) amazing portrayal as their mother.

To survive in a post-apocalyptic world…

You need to be blindfolded, alert, and armed with survival skills aplenty – or you will die.

This survival film progresses as Malorie instructs her children not to remove their blindfolds as they go down a river.

It started…

Five years earlier, when unexplained mass suicides spread across Europe were shown all over the news. By that time, Malorie was pregnant and was helped to the hospital by her sister Jessica.

But things began to get chaotic – Malorie witnessed a woman deliberately hurt herself. Everyone panicked, and as they got out of the hospital, the chaos began to grow. Jessica drives the car, but she sees the entity causing them to crash and eventually kills herself with a truck.

Malorie, on the other hand…

Survived the crash and was aided by a woman into a house but fell into a trance and eventually died. Tom (Trevante Rhodes) helped Malorie and immediately went inside the house to find another individual taking shelter.

Here Malorie met another pregnant woman named Olympia, who let a stranger into the house. This stranger fell into a trance by his drawings and endangered everyone. 

Thankfully, Malorie and Olympia had given birth. 


Olympia didn’t manage to look away and fell into a trance and jumped out the window, killing herself.

Malorie protected the newborn babies and hid them under the blanket. Tom then began to get conscious and managed to kill Gary.

That said, Malorie and Tom took care of the babies (Boy and Girl). Fortunately, they’ve received a message from a survivor about a safe community in the forest.

As they leave their house blindfolded…

Malorie and the children were ambushed, causing Tom to sacrifice himself. They made their way to the river and rode the boat where they carried birds in the box to give them signals from the entities.

Did they manage to survive the rapids while the entities were at threat?

Sure they are – the heart-wrenching scene between Malorie and the children will make you teary-eyed. Eventually, they successfully went to the safe community – a school for the blind.

Ending spoiler…

Binge-watch now – Bird Box is one of the survival movies that will give you goosebumps, and you’ll feel your heart race as the entity threatens the characters.

4 - Hacksaw Ridge

Andrew Garfield’s heart-wrenching line “one more” makes this one of the best survival movies in 2016.

It was chosen as one of the Top ten survival Movies of the Year and received several awards and nominations, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor for Garfield.

What happened in this movie?

Spoilers ahead…

Andrew Garfield portrays the character of Desmond Doss, who’s an American pacifist combat medic. Desmond Doss is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian who refuses to carry or use firearms and trains on Saturdays – he’s the odd one out.

Thus, fellow soldiers attempt to discharge Desmond by making him work gruesome labor. One night, he was beaten by a fellow soldier, but he refused to name who attacked him.

Everything changes when…

Their unit was sent to combat situations to defend Hacksaw Ridge. Sadly, they lose some soldiers, but Desmond saves his squadmate, Smitty.

Then he reveals to Smitty why he refused to hold a gun – which you’ll know when you watch the movie.

“One more” – these spoken words from Desmond allow him to save 75 soldiers during the massive Japanese attack.

The movie tells you not to compromise your beliefs even if it means your life is at stake.

5 - The Hunger Games

Hunger Games is another post apocalyptic dystopian science fiction action-packed film adaptation based on the 2008 novel of Suzanne Collins.

If you’re a fan of this movie…

You remember the line, Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor, or maybe the I volunteer as tribute to Katniss Everdeen to save her sister Primrose from becoming a tribute.

It’s one of the survival movies where you’ll be able to sympathize with the characters. This movie took place in the nation of Panem, where from 12 Districts – a boy and girl are annually chosen as tributes and compete with each other to survive.

To survive, the tributes must get people (sponsors) to like them. 


Aside from the action-packed – you’ll get butterflies in your stomach with the development of the star-crossed lovers’ story, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).

This survival movie is a trilogy followed by the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2.

6 - Train to Busan

One of the survival movies with zombies. Train to Busan is a South Korean action horror film in the direction of  Yeon Sang-Ho. It’s exactly what you need if you want to get shaken from your core.

It took place in a high-speed train from Seoul to Busan as a zombie apocalypse outbreak occurred due to a chemical leak from a bio plant and threatened the passengers.

Not only that…

The passengers in the train have different occupations, attitudes, and reasons as to why they rode the train to Busan.

Unfortunately, an infected person got on the train unnoticed. That person turned into a zombie and attacked an attendant as well as other crew and passengers at the same time.

The uninfected passengers remain on the rear and front of the train. Through observation, they conclude that the zombies attack only if they see or hear them.

When the train stops at Daegu Station…

Fortunately secured by the Korean army. But little did they know that the army themselves turned into zombies. Thus, several passengers were attacked while others ran to stay alive.

The surviving characters continue to fight with the zombies and for their loved ones. Here, you’ll get scared, anxious in a good way, and cry with the hardship of the surviving member.

7 - The Way Back

Their escape was just the beginning…

It was inspired by a true story starring one of the brightest stars in Hollywood and from six-time academy award nominee Peter Weir who directed films like Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Dead Poets Society, Witness, and The Truman Show.

This story took place in Siberia in 1940, the world’s most brutal prison system, where former Polish prisoner Janusz Wieszczek (Jim Sturgess) planned to escape and go back to his wife.

The beginning…

During World War II, after the Soviets invaded Poland, Janusz was held as a prisoner and interrogated by the NKVD due to spy accusations. 

However, the Soviets failed to make him admit and took his wife into custody, tortured her, and made a statement that Janusz is indeed a spy.

With that, Janusz was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in the Soviet Gulag – a labor camp in Siberia.

There he met…

Fellow prisoners – Mr. Smith (Ed Harris), Valka (Colin Farrel), and more who joined him on his escape journey.

But their escape was just the beginning…

The only way to go back is to walk – a very long walk. They crossed 4000 miles of unforgiving wilderness and struggled to deserted places to go over the Himalayas.

They find no food and water to the point that some freeze to death because of the snowstorm.

Did they manage to find their way back?

That’s for you to find out. This story tackles the life of people back then. How do they manage to survive, and to what extent can you do for love and camaraderie?

To walk means to never give up despite the challenges you’ll face ahead of you.

8 - Rescue Dawn

Rescue Dawn 2006 is loosely based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight to survive, directed by Werner Herzog.

The story took place in 1966 when a US Navy pilot, Dieter Dengler, plane crashes in Laos. Fortunately, he survived the plane crash but was captured by Pathet Lao.

Lieutenant Dengler offered to sign leniency condemning America, but he refused. From there, he was tortured and imprisoned. He met other American pilots Gene Debruin and Duane Martin, who were imprisoned for years.


Dieter planned to escape but was disapproved of by fellow prisoners. They suffered malnutrition and were abused by the guards who planned to kill them. Their condition got worse as they continued to starve. Thus, they all agree to put the escape plan into action.


The escape didn’t go according to plan because some of the prisoners didn’t follow Dieter’s command and ended up shooting all the guards.

All of them dispersed in the jungle due to insufficient firearms that left them with uncertainties. Thankfully, Dieter and Martin find a life raft and use it to reach the Mekong River but killing Martin eventually.

A few days later…

Dieter was successfully rescued and returned to the US. He’s isolated in a hospital for debriefing. Then, his fellow squadmates visited him and were awarded as a hero.

9 - Gravity

At 327 miles above the earth. There is nothing to carry sound. No air pressure. No oxygen tank.

Life in space is impossible, but Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) performs a set of wire upgrades on the Hubble.


During their space exploration, space debris started to get in their way and ordered them to return to space immediately.

The worst happened…

Stone lost her communication with the Mission Control team that left her to figure things on their own while trying to survive.

Gravity is a science fiction thriller film that received nominations, including Best Actress for Sandra Bullock and Best Pictures. This film won the Best Director in BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Award.

10 - Rabbit Proof Fence

Now the longest fence in the world will become their only hope to survive.

The director of Patriot Games and The Bone Collector comes with an inspiring true story 1500 miles from home in a strange world where they all attempt the impossible.

A mother’s love. A man’s crusade. A family is torn apart

One of the survival movies based on a true story concerning three aboriginal girls who tried to escape from Moore River Settlement to return to their families.

Will they be able to succeed? – watch the hardships of the girls that will make your heart wrench.

11 - Cast Away

Cast Away 2000 – one of the best survival movies starring Tom Hanks and from the academy award winner director of Forrest Gump.

Another plane crash happened in the South Pacific where Chuck Noland (Hanks) got stranded on an uninhabited island.

The Cast Away film focuses on Chuck’s several attempts to survive and return home.

12 - Apollo 13

When you’re in space, failure is not an option.

This film depicts Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 for America’s fifth mission to the moon.

The director Howard did a great job creating a masterpiece of an accurate movie. He employed NASA to assist them and obtained permission to film the scenes on a reduced gravity aircraft for a realistic experience of space.

13 - Buried

Paul Conroy has just woken up buried 6 feet below the ground. He’s a truck driver attacked by terrorists and buried alive with a lighter, flashlight, flask, glow stick pen, pen, knife, and a mobile phone.

This film received positive reviews like…

A masterclass in suspense.

A film that will leave you gasping. 

It’s just plain awesome.

Your 95 minutes is worth it – will Conroy be able to survive? That’s for you to find out!

14 - All is Lost

When courage is lost, all is lost.

This spectacular film starred Robert Redford, who delivers a tour de force performance. From the academy, and was nominated writer and director of Margin Call.

No wonder this film is off the scale brilliant and scarier than anything in the perfect storm.

Thrilling, magnificent, dazzling, and an epic landmark film of a man alone at sea with his will to survive.

You’ll get the vibe of The Life of Pi without the tiger, though.

15 - The Impossible

This is not another plane crash story or your typical New York City story where characters journey to the Alaskan wilderness.

The Impossible is based on a true story of one family’s survival off the scale during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. 

Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.


Best Survival Movies - Bugoutbill.com
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There you have your survival films to binge-watch – all our recommendations from BugoutBill.com.

I’m sure you have your favorite that you want to recommend to other binge-watchers – go ahead and share our article.

Remember: The only objective of survival movies is to survive and stay alive.

So, if you’re faced with life’s difficulties – don’t give up easily – carry this spirit with you!

Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.

If you’ve enjoyed this article – why not check out our others from BugOutBill.com – thanks for reading!

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