As each year brings more advanced technological innovations, the gap between science and science fiction becomes slimmer and slimmer. The rise of AI makes many people nervous that robots may gain sentience sooner than we thought or that we may soon contact alien life forms.
Shows like Black Mirror (2011-) examine humanity’s sinister relationship with technology to grapple with our fears. But if you’ve already binged all of Black Mirror, there are plenty of films that explore similar themes you should check out.
1. Moon (2009)
A sole astronaut stationed at a lunar mine is preparing for his return mission to Earth when a terrible accident occurs, causing him to fall unconscious. When he wakes up, he’s in a completely different location, and he wonders how he got there. After investigating, he finds his own dead body at the site of the accident.
2. Ex Machina (2014)
When a programmer working for a massive technology corporation wins a contest to visit the CEO’s mansion, he learns the CEO held the competition to choose someone to help test the CEO’s new intelligent robot. As the man conducts the tests, he realizes the robot may be smarter than he’d bargained for.
3. Sorry To Bother You (2018)
This satirical dystopian film is set in a near future reality where a young man who needs cash gets a job as a telemarketer for a big company. After learning how to perfect the sales process, he quickly rises through the ranks at the expense of his personal life. But when the company’s CEO calls him in for a meeting, he realizes he made a terrible mistake in a twist that will leave viewers speechless.
4. The Lobster (2015)
The Lobster takes place in a dystopian society where people are forced to find a romantic partner or else get turned into the animal of their choice. When one man’s marriage ends, he must visit a luxurious hotel to date around for forty-five days to find his match, or else.
5. Gattaca (1997)
In this sci-fi thriller, people are discriminated against based on their life expectancy. After undergoing a series of tests after birth, the government determines whether someone is a “valid” or an “invalid.” Valids get high-ranking positions, while invalids scrape by at the bottom of society. But when one in-valid with big dreams poses as a valid, he wonders why this system is really in place.
6. Upgrade (2018)
After a man gets injured and his wife dies in a gruesome mugging, the man goes to the hospital, where the doctors tell him he’s paralyzed. The man feels hopeless until a wealthy inventor promises him a cure and implants an AI device in his head to augment his physical skills. Now almost superhuman, the man seeks vengeance against the men who killed his wife.
7. Coherence (2013)
Eight friends come together after many years apart to reconnect at a dinner party in this psychological sci-fi film. When the guests arrive, they see a comet pass overhead, but they don’t know that the comet has mysterious powers that mess with their minds.
8. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
In a terrifying near-future reality, the American government is struggling to combat a new synthetic drug that is more addictive than anything anyone has ever seen. As the drug takes over the country, one police officer goes undercover to find the substance’s origins.
9. M3GAN (2022)
After developing a life-like AI doll for kids, the inventor’s niece is unexpectedly placed in her care. She decides to gift her niece a prototype of the doll but soon realizes she should have put it through more testing before bringing it into her own home.
10. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
When omnipotent aliens invade the Earth, human militaries across the globe attempt to thwart the aliens, to no avail. When one combat-shy military officer is assigned a last-ditch mission to take on the aliens, he inevitably dies.
But shockingly, he reawakens stuck in a time loop that forces him to re-experience the battle over and over again. Whenever he comes back to life, he knows a little more about how to defeat his powerful enemies.
11. Her (2013)
After a man’s marriage of many years fails, he takes to the internet for companionship. He discovers a program that can communicate with him and provide some semblance of company. When he starts up the program, he meets Samantha, a kind entity with a cheery voice. As the man and Samantha learn more about each other, what begins as a friendship slowly shifts into something more.
12. I, Robot (2004)
In an imagining of the near future, humanoid cyborgs replace humans in menial jobs and service positions. People believe the robots are entirely under their control until the founder of the robotics company dies mysteriously. Intrigued, a detective looks into the case and realizes the founder was killed by his cyborg assistant in a much bigger plot than the detective could have predicted.
13. Vivarium (2019)
When a young couple searching for a new home visit a cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood to check out a house, they’re not too fond of what they see. They decide to head home, but once they get in the car, they discover the identical homes that line the streets never seem to end. Bewildered, the two eventually stop back at the original house to find an eerie package at their door with cryptic instructions on what they must do to be released from their surreal confines.
14. Under the Skin (2013)
An alien disguised as a beautiful woman travels the country, luring men into her van before sending them into an oozing void. As she kidnaps more and more of her prey, viewers slowly realize the alien’s sinister plans.
15. Equilibrium (2002)
Equilibrium takes place in a society that credits its peace to a mandate requiring everyone to eliminate their emotions by taking daily medications. But when a government agent accidentally skips a dose, the feelings he experiences make him dread a return to his everyday life.
16. The Truman Show (1998)
The Truman Show is an eerie drama about a man whose entire life is a farce created to entertain. He has no idea that the town he lives in, his parents, and his crush are all created by a team of executives to keep their TV show about his life running. However, he can’t live in this faux town forever without finding out what’s going in.
17. Don’t Worry Darling (2022)
This psychological thriller takes place in 1950s America, where a young couple lives in a company town built to house the families of men working on a top-secret project. But when one woman witnesses mysterious events around the serene paradise, she wonders if everything is truly as wonderful as it seems.
18. Soylent Green (1973)
In a futuristic version of New York City, where overpopulation means a lack of resources, a cop investigates an executive’s death at a rations factory. As he digs deeper into the case, he realizes many people are out to stop him from uncovering the truth behind the executive’s mysterious demise.
19. After Yang (2021)
After two new American parents adopt a daughter from China, they purchase an android older brother figure to help her connect with her birth culture. But when the robot brother malfunctions and the father learns the model is no longer under warranty, he searches for an affordable way to fix the robot to prevent his daughter’s grief.
20. I Am Mother (2019)
I Am Mother is a mind-bending Australian sci-fi film that takes place in an underground bunker after an unnamed event wipes out the last of humanity. An intelligent AI raises a daughter in the bunker and tells her she must pass a series of tests before she can exit the bunker. But when an injured woman appears at the bunker door, the daughter wonders if her robot mother told her the full truth.
21. Aurora (2018)
This chilling Filipino horror film is about two sisters who live together on an idyllic island. But their peaceful home turns into a minefield when a mysterious spaceship called the Aurora crash lands not too far from their house.
22. Crimes of the Future (2022)
Crimes of the Future is an unsettling sci-fi body horror about a society where bioengineering allows humans to use computers to advance human evolution exponentially. The film follows a performance artist with a unique ability to grow his own new organs as he and his wife perform gruesome surgeries on stage.
23. Infinity Pool (2023)
A novelist and his wife visit a resort in a foreign country to visit a festival when they decide to go for a drive in the countryside, despite warnings that exiting the resort could put them in danger. While on the road, they accidentally hit a pedestrian and killed him. As punishment, the novelist must die by the hand of the dead man’s firstborn son. That is unless he’s wealthy enough to pay to create a clone of himself who will be killed in his place.
24. Come True (2020)
This twisted Canadian sci-fi horror film follows a young homeless woman who, despite all her efforts, can’t get a good night’s sleep, and her schoolwork suffers for it. When she’s approached to participate in a classified sleep study, she agrees and finally gets a couple of good nights of rest. But soon, eerie nightmares emerge and begin to take over both her sleeping and waking mind.
25. Source Code (2011)
In an investigation to uncover the terrorist plot behind a deadly train explosion, one man must enter the consciousness of one of the passengers on the train in the moments before his death to identify the bomber. But as he watches the horrors unfold around him in a different body, he believes he can do something to prevent the attack from happening in the first place.
Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more. She loves horror, history, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically. Her favorite pastimes include needle felting, gaming, and drawing.