As much as you’d like to, we all know you’re not spending every weekend in the great outdoors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hone your survival skills (or critique some ignorant director’s) with a good survival flick.
Here are some great survival movies that you can stream this weekend. Let us know if we left anything out.
Even if it’s not accurate, survival movies are entertaining, and really make you appreciate your soft couch and air conditioning. Nothing like sipping a frosty beer while watching some actor succumb to dehydration, no?
The true story of the Uruguayan rugby team’s struggles to survive after a plane crash strands them in the middle of the Andes Mountains. Their struggle is at times horrifying and inspirational as you see the lengths they’re willing to go to in order to survive avalanches, starvation, and exposure. Bonus points for the John Malkovich cameo. Available on Netflix.
Into the Wild, 2007
The well-known story of Christopher McCandless and his trek from an affluent home to seek adventure in the Alaskan wilderness is given the Hollywood treatment by director Sean Penn and actor Emile Hirsch. While not totally true to the book, the film effectively visualizes McCandless’ journey and motivations. It also contains one of Kristen Stewart’s most watchable performances. Available to rent on Amazon for $2.99.
The Edge, 1997
Anthony Hopkins plays a billionaire trapped in the wilderness by, yup, another plane crash. Bears, snares, waterfalls, and treachery ensue. It’s pretty ridiculous, but the cinematography is great and it’s great to see Alec Baldwin in his pre-30 Rock days. Available for free with an Amazon Prime membership.
All is Lost, 2013
An unnamed mariner played by Robert Redford finds himself stranded in the Indian Ocean after his yacht collides with an abandoned shipping container. With no communication or navigation equipment, he must use a sextant and compass to find his way into a shipping lane and attempt to flag down a passing ship, all the while combating circling sharks and a brutal sun. Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
127 Hours, 2010
Regardless of your feelings about Aron Ralston, his tale of getting trapped in a canyon in Utah is compelling as hell. Director Danny Boyle and actor James Franco tell the story of a hiker pinned to a wall by a boulder for five days in such vivid detail that you can’ help but wonder what you’d do in Ralston’s shoes. Available to rent on Amazon for $2.99.
Touching the Void, 2003
The true story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates facing disaster while attempting to descend after summiting the Siula Grande in Peru. After Joe breaks his leg on the descent, the two face increasingly difficult situations that ultimately leave Joe to fend for himself. The story of his survival is inspiring, to say the least. Available on Netflix.
The Way Back, 2010
Inspired by a true story, this film tracks seven escapees from a Siberian gulag who have to trek 4,000 miles on foot across the Gobi desert, facing blistering Siberian cold, wolves, oppressive desert heat, and the damn Himalayas to make their way to freedom. Available on Netflix.
Open Water, 2003
Another film loosely based on a true story, Open Water is the tale of two scuba divers who are accidentally left behind by their tour boat and left stranded in shark-infested waters. In addition to the sharks, over the course of the film they have to deal with the unrelenting sun, dehydration, and stinging jellyfish. If you thought Jaws was too sappy, this is the perfect film for you. Available on Netflix.
Rescue Dawn, 2006
Directed by the great Werner Herzog (who’s rendition of Go the F*** to Sleep is a YouTube classic), Rescue Dawn tells the story of US Navy Pilot Deiter Dengler after he is shot down and captured by the Vietcong. The story of his escape features beautiful shots of the Vietnamese countryside and highlights the mental challenge of solitude in the wild as well as Christian Bale’s ability to lose a terrifying amount of weight. Available on Netflix.
28 Days Later, 2002
Come on, we had to throw a zombie film in here somewhere. And 28 Days later is one of the best. Danny Boyle’s terrifying direction and Alex Garland’s script took the schlocky zombie genre and made an art film with it. Besides, if/when the zombie apocalypse actually happens, this will give you an idea of how to survive it. Available to rent on Amazon for $2.99.
Now sit back, grab some popcorn (or Clif Bars), and start watching these gems.