Words by Lottie Skala, Staff Writer
A typically divisive genre, science-fiction movies tend to alienate wider audiences with their complicated world-building rules, appealing more to those with a predetermined appetite for the surreal. Amassing $330 million in box office sales worldwide, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune overcame the limitations of its genre, quickly becoming recognised by the repeated praise: “I don’t even like sci-fi, but I loved Dune”. Here are seven other films to watch if your thirst for spellbinding cinematic universes has since been awakened. (Blade Runner and Mad Max go without saying…)
Minority Report (2002) Dir Steven Spielberg
In a delightfully futuristic set-up, three psychic humans are utilised by the police force for crime-prevention. Tom Cruise’s Chief of Police is on the run after appearing in a vision committing the brutal murder of a man he does not recognise. Despite the formidable combination of Phillip K. Dick’s source material and Spielberg’s direction, Minority Report remains an underrated classic.
District 9 (2009) Dir Neill Blomkamp
Twenty years after an alien spaceship lands in Johannesburg, the political implications of living alongside the human race are unveiled in this masterpiece of a film. Themes of nationalism, poverty, and political protest are all explored through an almost video-game-like lens for a viewing experience that’s hard to forget.
The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003) Dir the Wachowski Sisters
If the tagline ‘welcome to the Real World’ doesn’t conjure up any of the multiple Matrix parodies in pop culture, then congratulations. You are hereby welcomed to enjoy the sci-fi world both closest and furthest from reality than any other. With as little information provided as possible. Don’t google a thing.
Annihilation (2018) Dir Alex Garland
In a rare instance for the genre, a majority female cast heads into unknown territory following a meteorite crash-landing on Earth. The supernatural events that ensue are directed with as much visual splendour as Dune, and the final act is truly one of the most haunting sequences in all of science-fiction cinema.
Event horizon (1997) Dir Paul W. S. Anderson
As with most space-exploration movies, the scariest discoveries tend to be the closest to home. Whilst undoubtedly derivative, this sci-fi horror is packed with moments of genuine suspense, terror, and a number of hilariously committed performances. It’s no wonder that twenty years after its box office failure, it finally found a cult audience.
Hellboy (2004) & Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) Dir Guillermo del Toro
The comic book world of Hellboy is magnificently brought to life by Del Toro’s signature genre-bending style. Half-demon-half-human, Hellboy is Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool if he too had been summoned from hell by Nazi occultists. If the Baron was your favourite character in Dune, look no further for equally grotesque and mesmeric creatures.
Under The Skin (2013) Dir Jonathan Glazer
For fans of slow-burn arthouse (think Robert Eggers, Yorgos Lanthimos etc), this eerie tale of a lonely extraterrestrial being, targeting the unwitting men of Scotland, is as breathtaking as it is harrowing. The film’s array of haunting images will stay in your mind for days after viewing.