One slightly mutated infection, an angry alien parasite, or a genetically-created super-flu is all it takes to wipe out a huge chunk of the human population in the horror genre. Infections are something that humans fear on a very basic level and something that is definitely at the front of everyone’s mind right now as the world makes its way through a real-life pandemic.
Everyone fears getting sick, and infections are a staple in horror movies because it’s all the more terrifying when people have to fight against an invisible enemy. Especially when that enemy is out to kill you or turn you into some sort of hideous monster. So while I’ve tried to steer clear of any zombie-style infections or anything too zombie adjacent, I’ve put together a list of 10 of the scariest humanity-killing infections which we can only hope don’t materialize in 2021.
10. It Comes at Night (2017)
While there’s not a lot of focus on what the infection is in It Comes at Night, as the movie picks up long after most of the world has been killed, it’s clear that it’s a highly infectious disease. The only way to avoid getting infected is to stay away from the rest of the population and hope you stay safe. There’s not even a clear form of infection like a zombie’s bite, as people seem to pick up the infection at random.
Paul, his wife, Sarah, and their son, Travis, are hiding out in their cabin in the woods trying to avoid the disease, and are already a little on edge after Sarah’s father contracted the disease and had to be killed. Despite their high level of over-cautiousness, the family decides to share their home with another family they stumble across in the hopes that it will make their home easier to defend. However, all it does is increase the paranoia of both families, leading to relationships getting strained very quickly.
9. The Beach House (2019)
The Beach House proves that knowing loads about science isn’t enough to save you when nature decides to turn on the human population. Emily is a passionate organic chemistry student who heads to her boyfriend’s family beach house for a relaxing weekend together. However, things start to go wrong almost immediately. Firstly, because there are already friends of the family staying in the house and secondly, because the sea is trying to kill them.
The water has taken on an odd texture, there are strange orbs in the trees, jellyfish litter the beach, and eventually, a thick fog starts to cover the town. While the infection takes people over at various stages, it makes its way through everyone at the beachfront, turning them into white-eyed zombie-like creatures who like to attack other humans and feast on corpses. Emily also has the fun of encountering one of the ocean parasites face-to-face when it burrows its way into her foot and she has to pull it out herself.
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8. The Bay (2012)
We’re back by the water once again for the infection in The Bay, which hits over the Fourth of July weekend in the seaside town of Chesapeake Bay. However, the Mayor is ignoring the high level of toxicity in the water which may be coming from the local chicken factory, and as a result, anyone who enters the water or eats seafood ends up with a horrible rash all over their body, before they die horribly.
The infection turns out to be a result of parasitic isopods, which have grown larger and are now interested in humans due to the water contamination. While the town is quarantined, most people are infected regardless, with the government covering the whole thing up to hide the true cause of the infection.
7. Cabin Fever (2002)
This list is really not coming off as water-friendly, and Cabin Fever is no different. While the infection doesn’t start in the water, and instead starts with a hermit being infected by his dog, the hermit’s dead body soon ends up in the local water supply, spreading it to anyone who drinks the water. Anyone infected by the disease has chunks of their flesh fall off as it seems to rot from the inside.
However, it takes the gang who are staying in a local cabin a long time to figure this out, and instead, they waste their time quarantining their friend Karen in the shed, leaving her to suffer a horrible death, thinking it will save the rest of them. The only member of the group who survives until (almost) the end is Jeff, who isolates himself from the group and was part of a bet to only drink beer for the weekend.
6. I Am Legend (2007)
While science is often used for good, sometimes even scientists can’t predict what they have created. While trying to re-engineer the measles virus and create a cure for cancer, scientists end up creating a deadly virus, which kills most of the world’s population and turns the majority of the survivors into vampire-like creatures who can’t come out in the sunlight. Anyone left is immune but has to survive the state of the world and cannibalistic vampires.
Robert Neville appears to be the only survivor in Manhattan and is working hard to try and find a cure for the disease to try and wipe out the constant threat to his life and turn some of the creatures back into humans. It’s not often that cures work in these types of films, but Neville seems to perfect his serum in the end, offering hope to those who are still infected.
5. Rabid (1977)
Science strikes again in Rabid when an experimental plastic surgeon decides to perform a new procedure on Rose after she is horribly injured in a motorbike accident. The doctor gives Rose experimental skin grafts to try and heal the injuries, and while it does seem to work, it also gives Rose a thirst for blood and a strange, new appendage that shoots out of her armpit.
However, Rose infects everyone she feeds on, turning them into rage-induced creatures which the authorities mistake for a mutant strand of rabies. While Rose remains unaffected, it spreads quickly to those around her, with the cure for rabies having no effect.
4. Slither (2006)
It’s taken us a while, but we’ve finally got to an alien parasite on the list. If horror movies have taught us anything, it’s don’t go near anything from space when it crashes nearby. Nothing good will be in that meteorite. Grant Grant finds that out the hard way when he finds an alien parasite crawling away from the crash site and decides to poke it with a stick.
Grant gets injected with a barb from the creature, which soon infects him and takes over his body. Grant has also used local woman Brenda as an incubator for the aliens, causing her to give birth to hundreds of alien slug parasites, which soon infect the majority of the town, as Grant controls them through a hive mind.
3. Bird Box (2018)
Bird Box is not your typical infection movie, as we never really see the creatures and it doesn’t involve a disease. However, something arrives on Earth which drives those who see it to choose to die by suicide rather than face the unseen threat. The survivors guess that the monsters may take the form of your worst fear, making you think death is a better option.
While most people die after viewing whatever the monsters are, the monsters sometimes choose to infect individuals and keep them alive long enough to infect others. In order to stay alive, the survivors need to keep their eyes closed at all times when outside to prevent them from being infected.
2. The Stand (1994)
When the US government takes the flu and tries to weaponize it, they end up creating a deadly strain which is released into the world after a security breach at the lab. When security guard, Charles Campion, tries to run for it and save his family, he ends up spreading the virus across the entire country.
With the government unable to contain it at this point, 99.4% of the world’s population dies within two weeks, with only the immune being left alive. However, that’s just the start of the story for our main characters, as they go on to fight a massive battle of good vs evil in a world that’s gone rogue in the wake of the pandemic.
1. Night of the Creeps (1986)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, don’t investigate stuff that has clearly crashed from space! Because if this list is anything to go by, you will end up infected by a space slug that will take over your brain.
The opening of Night of the Creeps sees a college boy being infected by a space slug, however, his body ends up frozen in the morgue for 27 years. With his body thawed, the slug lurking inside him makes a break for freedom, using the body as a vehicle. The college student’s head then bursts open, releasing more slugs, and infecting most of the college campus, turning them into zombie-like creatures.