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Seven Most Horrifying Plagues in Horror Movies

Updated on July 11, 2014


Here are a list of seven movies I think are the best plague/epidemic horror movies. I based these based on the level of infection, the level of likelihood of it actually happening, the spread of the infection, and the rate the infection spreads throughout the body.


Number 1: Carriers (2009)

Type of infection: Viral

Characteristics: Respiratory that causes bleeding, sores, and lethargy

Quickness of spread: Within Days of contact and mortality once symptoms show is 100%

Carriers is a depressing movie about two brothers and two girls driving to escape a deadly plaque by going to an abandoned beach. If you are expecting a movie about zombies you will be disappointed. There are no zombies here. Instead what you have is an atmosphere that is so bleak and terrifying that it leaves you almost depressed. The freeways are lined up with abandoned cars, towns are seen with quarantine signs everywhere and trucks that serve no other purpose than to hold body bags.

There is a lot of depressing or horrifying scenes in this movie that stays with you long after the movie ends. The most famous scene is that of a father and his infected daughter who asked the four main characters to drive them into a town due to a rumor of a cure. When they get there they find the last doctor in the town that is alive and six children lying in hospital beds with a gun in his hand and infected. I am not going to give away anymore of this scene but it is an important scene.

What follows after that scene is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the whole movie. The little girl who is infected needs to use the restroom and the father knows if they both get out of the car, the four main characters will leave without them. He tries to make her go by herself but she is too weak so he had to get out of the car as well. It is one of the hardest scenes to watch in the whole movie.

Will the main characters reach the abandoned beach before getting infected?
Carriers: 9/10


2: Phase 7

Type of infection: Virus

Characteristics: Respiratory and causes paranoia and delusions.

Quickness of spread: Unknown but the mortality rate is 100% once symptoms start to show

This is actually a really interesting movies based in Argentina about a man and his pregnant wife quarantined in their apartment complex due to the government enforcing quarantine saying it is the best way to avoid infections. This is not the most serious movie, there is a lot of quirky scenes in it but it is still a really interesting movie about a start of an epidemic. What is the most interesting part of it is how uncaring the pregnant wife is to everything. It is almost as if she is in denial about the situation.

The story leads into paranoia, cabin-fever, conspiracy theories, and tension between the neighbors that lead to the start of them turning against each other. If you are a conspiracy nut this movie is all about marital law and depopulation by using a controlled virus. The movie is weirdly entertaining.

Rating: 7/10


3: Rec(2007)/Quarantine(2008)

Type of infection: possession/Viral

Characteristics: zombie-like/foaming at mouth and zombie like

Quickness of Spread: Depend on the person/within minutes of bite. Both have 100% mortality rates once bitten.

Rec is a Spanish horror film about a news reporter and firemen getting stuck in an apartment complex after the complex gets quarantined due to possession-like zombies. The beginning is kind of slow but is successful at getting you attached to the characters and once the action picks up it doesn't stop until the end. It really is an intense movie and you kind of want to hold your breath many times through this movie. There are a couple of scenes worth mentioning in this movie.

There is a scene where a policeman falls down the stairs which was left out of the script so the director could catch the actor's real reaction to it. The scene therefore looks really realistic and gives the viewer chills.

Another scene is the giant window scene where a couple of the people stuck inside are trying to get outside through the window and government officials are slowly sealing it off from the outside. The conversation that takes place in this scene is full of panic and desperation and you really feel bad for everybody inside when they finally seal it off.

The ending is the winning scene through and for those who haven’t watched it I won’t give it away. It was just haunting.

The Americans made a American version called Quarantine that followed the same story-line as Rec but instead of possession they used rabies. I found the apartment complex in Quaratine a lot more suspenseful because of the way the apartment complex had so many turns that could lead to some serious zombie attacks. The greatest scene in this movie had to be the rabid dog attacking the man in the elevator and the use of the camera man using the camera as a weapon to kill a zombie in an apartment.

Score: Rec 9/10

Quarantine: 7/10 (the ending completely lacked in comparison to Rec)


4: Right At Your Door (2006)

Type of Infection: Viral or Bacteria

Characteristics: Unknown

Quickness of Spread: Unknown and mortality rate is known

This is another interesting little flick about dirty bombs going off in downtown LA and a husband's decision to lock himself in his house and refuse to help his wife, who was outside during the attack, due to the fact that the dirty bomb carried a infection. The movie explores his own paranoia and fear as he struggles against his love for his wife and his own mortality.

The infection that the dirty bomb gave off is explained very little because the whole movie we just follow the man whose only form of information comes from a radio. This explores the post 911 fear of bombings and the possibility of dirty bombs going off, remember after 911 most people cancelled trips to major theme parks due to the fear of them being bombed?

The movie doesn't have much action scenes or violence but instead explores what goes on in a person's mind during an attack and the paranoia that it brings. The ending is very suitable for this film and one that made you realize that in a situation like this, there is no such thing as safety.

Why is this on the list since nothing is known about the infection? The truth that this is the most horrifying infection due to the fact that nobody knows what it is and how it is spread and who will be safe and who will be in serious trouble. The fact of what happens at the end says there is more of this story than what was explained in the movie.

Rating: 8/10-solid film but could have been better with a little more information


5: Contacted (2013)

Type of Infection: STD

Characteristics: Dead Skin, bleeding, blindness, sores, rash, and a three day rate from when you get the disease to death.

Quickness of Spread: Unprotected sex leads to this and given amount of time between first signs of infection and death the mortality rate will be pretty high if not 100%

Okay this movie is probably one of the few movies that I found to be not as solid as it could have been if it had a better budget and writers however this is one of those movies that I think is one of the most disturbing and horrifying infection that is so deadly and quick moving that it should be noted.

This is the only virus on this list that comes from a STD.

The story goes like this, a woman goes to a party and gets drugged and raped in a car from a mam who was seen to be involved with a corpse that had a biohazard tag. From there you are watching a woman's last three days and trust me it is not easy to watch. Basically she starts to rot from the inside out.

It is really a sad movie because you are watching her as she tries to hide this from her family and friends while trying to find out what is going on. The more things progress the more she starts to lose it.

The best thing about this movie is that the audience might think they know what is going on at first and then at the ending it spirals into a whole other direction and not only is it a shocked ending but you are left wanting to go back and watch it again to see the signs that you have missed.

Still like I said there are some things about this movie that makes you shake your head and there is some inconsistency throughout the movie but it still teaches about risk of STDs and the importance of taking care of yourself.

Rating: 7/10-the storyline was good, the acting was good, the make-up was top-notch but there are some things that will never happen in real life. A manager will not ask his employee to work with her eyes bleeding and nobody would kiss a person with sores and dead skin around the mouth. If they just cleared those things up, I would have marked it higher.


6. Cabin Fever

Type of Infection: Viral

Characteristics: Sores, skin peeling off, open wounds, paranoia, and lethargy

Quickness of Spread: It can be spread through many ways and has a 100% mortality rate however the quickness of spread is unknown. Anywhere from a couple of hours or a couple of days is average for this movie

Thought this one wouldn't show up did you? There are many people who are crossed on this movie. Some say it is really awful, some like it. This movie is another campy horror movie about a deadly infection. This is one of the movies that makes you think twice about taking a shower or drinking a ice-cold glass of water.

The reason this is on this list is because of the speed of the infection, the type of infection, and the the spread of infection. This is really a nightmare of infection. The infection which is unknown is very similar to necrotizing fasciitis which is a bacteria that spreads rapidly and eats away at soft tissue (CDC 2012). This is basically the same thing which happens in the movie. The virus is quick moving, very painful, and can cross between people and animals.

The story is about friends who go to a lake house for a summer trip and slowly one by one they all get this fatal virus. If that isn't bad enough, at the end we realize that the water is being used for bottle water. So it is not contained to one area and the virus can be spread to many different communities.

Rating 8/10-I liked the campy and witty theme of this movie. It was a nice comparison to the gore and horror of the infection.


7. Contagion (2011)

Type of Infection: Viral

Characteristics: Attack Central Nervous System-behavioral changes, seizures, comas, and death

Quickness of spread: normal speed with some people who are immune to it.

Truthfully this movie was nothing special. It is about a superbug that causes sickness, seizures,and death. Some people are trying to find ways to stop it as others are just trying to survive. The most interesting part about the movie is simply finding out who patient zero is. That part to me is always the most interesting because there is always a start to every epidemic but by the time the virus is known there is so many people infected and dying that it cannot be linked back to any one individual.

The movie blamed a woman for it because she was the first one to get admitted into the hospital but through flashbacks given to the audience we find out that it she was not the first one.

rating 8/10

What Do You Think?

Do you agree with this list? Do you know of any movies that should be added to this list or movies that should be taken off the list? Let me know in the comments below.


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    • profile image


      13 months ago

      I love it, but Contracted seems the best... thanks for writing.

    • Melissa Noon profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Noon 

      4 years ago from California

      Thanks for letting me know about the mistake. I was at first going to do ten but decided that since the other three are all zombie like illnesses to make a hub especially for top zombie illnesses instead. I will fix the mistake as soon as I can.

      I have not watched it yet will look for it when I get home.

    • j-u-i-c-e profile image


      4 years ago from Waterloo, On

      Great hub, Melissa! Have you seen Pontypool? It's a little bit different because the virus has a really unusual way of spreading (won't spoil it if you haven't seen it) but I really enjoyed it. Btw, in your opening paragraph you say you are reviewing 10 movies but there are only 7 in your list. :)


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