7 Fantastic Survival Movies Like “127 Hours”

Updated on October 5, 2018
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Poppy lives near Tokyo and likes to read novels and play video games, especially fantasy RPGs.

How strong is a person's survival instinct? How do humans fare when they are in a life-threatening situation? How far would somebody go to survive? These questions are addressed and explored in survival movies, a popular genre of film that usually involve a person or several people in a situation where they must overcome obstacles and push themselves to the limit to get out of a situation where simply waiting around for rescue is not an option.

127 Hours was one of the most talked about movies of 2010. Based on the memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place by real mountaineer Aron Ralston, the movie portrays a climber's fight for survival when he is trapped during a mountaineering expedition. This exciting story was a good insight into how humans could - and have - do what they must to survive and the psychological effects of being helpless and trapped.


Survival movies are exciting and thought-provoking, and a lot has been done with "what if" situations to create thrilling tales. Here are seven excellent recommended survival movies similar to 127 Hours that are action-packed and memorable.

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1. Frozen (2010)

Not to be confused with the 2013 Disney movie, Frozen is an American survivor thriller movie starring Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, and Kevin Zegers. Despite being an indie film, the acting is great and it maintains a tense atmosphere throughout.

Three friends go skiing and are stranded on a chairlift when the resort is closed for the night. High up in the mountain with a storm approaching, the three friends do what they can to survive, though can they make it through the three-day wait?

I really enjoyed this film and have watched it several times. It is a classic survival film with just enough drama and action to keep it exciting.

2. Open Water (2003)

Similarly to Frozen, Open Water addresses the question "What if we were left behind?" Two divers (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan) are left alone in the ocean after their boat makes a mistake with the headcount and returns to land without them. Surrounded by nothing but sea and having only each other to rely on, can the two somehow escape their horrifying predicament involving sharks, jellyfish, and mental and physical exhaustion?

This film received a lot of praise and made over $54 million at the box office. I definitely recommend it to awaken some real primal terror and perhaps put you off scuba diving for life!

3. The Grey (2011)

A fantastic and memorable movie starring Liam Neeson, The Grey is a must-see if you haven't already watched it. John (Neeson) is a marksman for an oil company, disposing of wolves that try to attack the workers. He writes letters to his wife who left him, explaining his plans of committing suicide.

When John and the other oil company employees experience a horrific plane crash, they end up in a snowy wilderness, where starvation, cold, and a pack of wolves threaten their lives. Can John and a group of survivors find a way to civilisation before one of the many threats around them claim their lives?

I loved this movie and it's definitely one of my favourites on this list. With some heart-wrenching drama and a brilliant ending, it's an exciting must-try.

4. 247°F (2011)

The worst feeling is knowing that escape is just a few feet away, yet impossible to get to. In 247°F, a group of teens (Scout Taylor-Compton, Christina Ulloa, Travis Van Winkle, Michael Copon) visit a cabin for a vacation. When one of the group gets drunk and leaves the sauna, he stumbles and knocks over a ladder, trapping his friends inside, before leaving, oblivious to his fatal blunder.

It doesn't take them long to realise that they are trapped and do anything to break out. This terrifying scenario makes suggestions as to what being in a situation like this can do to you mentally as well as physically, and will keep you on your toes.

5. The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows is another movie about being lost at sea, but a completely different situation. All seems well for surfer Nancy (Blake Lively), who travels to Mexico for closure on her mother's recent death. While swimming, she is attacked by a shark, who bites her leg. Though the beach is close by, it is impossible for Nancy to get back to shore, and she waits on a rock for someone - anyone - to help her, while the shark circles her.

This is a tense movie, and infuriating to see how close, yet so far, Nancy is from safety. Definitely give this a try if you love surfing movies.

6. Gerald’s Game (2017)

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name (which is a masterpiece well worth a read), Gerald’s Game is a Netflix original movie that follows the story of Jessie, a nearly-forty lawyer’s wife. When she and her husband go for a romantic getaway, he locks her in handcuffs as a kinky sex game. He crosses the line, leading to deadly consequences that leave Jessie trapped and alone.

This movie isn’t just your run-of-the-mill survival story, but in a classic Stephen King way, there are layers to this creepy tale that make it all the more unforgettable. We experience Jessie’s deepest fears, repressed memories, and question her reality. Your skin will crawl all the way through this great film.

7. Sanctum (2011)

I saved the best for last! Sanctum, an Australian survival movie, is one of my favourite films of all time. Josh (Rhys Wakefield) joins his father (Richard Roxburgh) and his father's employees on an expedition to a recently discovered cave. Disaster soon strikes as a storm suddenly falls in, and the group are abandoned in the cave.

They quickly use their equipment and expertise to explore the previously undiscovered areas to try and find a route to escape. With good drama involving the relationship between Josh and his dad, and sobering happenings which could very much happen in real life, this is a serious and thought-provoking thriller full of action. I've watched this film several times and love it.

Survival thrillers are a good way to experience the terror of potential real-life situations while sitting safe at home! These seven movies are fantastic and a great insight into the horrifying possibility of "what if" situations, which can happen with one small mistake or fatal blunder.

Definitely give these great films a try and experience the thrill of the psychological and physical effects of trying to survive, even when the odds are stacked against you.

© 2018 Poppy


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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      20 months ago from UK

      This is an interesting list. Some of them I've heard of and others new to me.

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      20 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I wasn’t aware there was a sequel. Sounds like it’s one of those rare times that the sequel is actually good, too. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks, Jeremy :D

    • Jeremy Gill profile image

      Jeremy Gill 

      20 months ago from Louisiana

      Nice list! I've only seen a couple of these, but I'm eager to experience the rest. I also enjoyed Open Water 2, probably even more than the original, and it's a rare ocean-survival film that doesn't involve sharks.

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR


      21 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Hey, Flourish! Thank you so much :) Hope you enjoy the recommendations.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      21 months ago from USA

      What a terrific list of movies, Poppy! I tend to go to sleep during movies so unless it’s super interesting (and these sound like edge of the seat thrillers), I drift right off. Thanks!


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