Post-Apocalyptic Movies: Why Are We So Obsessed with Watching the World End?


Alex Colton, Staff Writer

The world is ending. Well, technically the world is always ending but, in this case, it’s just fake-ending, on a screen, in front of an audience-and luckily, there’s popcorn involved.

In movies, post-apocalyptic worlds are always ruled by some unimaginably brute force. Everyone is the enemy of everyone else and only the strong, most clever and because Hollywood favors the beautiful, best-looking survive. We sit in the dark and watch as good-looking movie-stars battle oblivion, imagining what it would be like if it all came true. If, like the teenage heroine of “The 5th Wave,” we had to go from worrying about whether that cute guy in class notices us to figuring out how to field-dress our own bullet wound.

Perhaps the relatable beginnings of apocalyptic movies is the key to grabbing an audience’s attention. Every apocalyptic movie starts the same way” the main characters live their daily lives when all-of-a-sudden the world around them starts turning upside down. This may be why it fascinates people because it brings attention to the underlying question: what if the world really did end? As well as follow-ups like “How would I survive?” “Who would I try to protect?” “What if I was the last survivor?

So, why are some people so fascinated by apocalyptic movies? Eliana Burns says, “I really like apocalyptic movies, it’s exciting and you can imagine what the world would be like if it ended in some crazy way and also what you would do to save yourself and the ones you love.” In this case, some movie-goers might actually want to live in such a disastrous yet exciting world. Some people might feel that our world is “really” just that dangerous. Rachel Hague believes, “Well, you never know what could really happen in real life, the world has to end at some point whether it’s by some crazy out-of-the-blue force or just a slow decay of humanity over 1000 years. Movies aren’t reality and it’s interesting to watch how some characters use creative ways to survive.”

Some might just want to get their adrenaline pumping, and their date’s, “I think apocalyptic movies are cool and some girls really don’t like horror movies but if you want the same effect, take a girl to an apocalyptic movie. They usually have a lot of suspense and action,” claims Chase Ewalt.
Others, might rather stay a safe distance away from the movies that show our world as we know it completely ending. “I’d rather watch anything but an apocalyptic movie, they really make me think about how the world would end and that kind of stuff is stressful to think about.”

A study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (2001) estimated it would take only thirteen days after a hypothetical biological attack on the United States for society as we know it to totally cease functioning. So, no matter how many hours you spend watching apocalyptic movies, science says the inevitable force we are against, is time- which can’t be stopped by even the strongest blockade.

The apocalypse is not a child-eating monster –alien clan or a giant deadly comet. It really comes down to the choices we make as a society and our own imaginations that manifest an inevitable ending to our own world.