15 Sci-Fi Movies That Will Give You An Existential Crisis

Science fiction is the style of surprise, know-how, and terrifying concepts. It is the longing of the universe, and it is the chips inside our brains, the neon cyberpunk landscapes of a crumbling society, and the extraterrestrial monsters on the backside of the ocean.

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It can also be residence to probably the most quantity of existential crises ever present in media. That is the great thing about sci-fi although: it makes viewers query their place on the earth. Sci-fi movies make tangible settings and tales out of the wildest issues an creativeness can dream up. Some sci-fi films go one step additional, leaving their viewers with the hole feeling of by no means having the ability to get well totally once more.

Updated on November 2nd, 2022, by Hannah Saab:

Sci-fi films proceed to push the boundaries of what is potential to depict on the massive display, with the highly-anticipated launch of Avatar: The Way of Water underscoring how a lot the style has improved. Existential sci-fi films are significantly fascinating proper now because of progressive and philosophical worldwide hits like Everything Everywhere All at Once. Audiences on the lookout for sci-fi movies that may make them query their lives, place within the universe, and whole existence have a whole lot of wonderful films to select from.


‘Ad Astra’ (2019)

Roy McBride looking through his spacesuit in Ad Astra.

Ad Astra is a desolate and masterful voyage by means of isolation. The story of Roy McBride looking for his misplaced father is not actually in regards to the end result. It is about how he turns into complete once more by means of the whole chaos of circumstance in a universe that does not care about what he needs.

Dubbed “Dad Astra” for a purpose, Ad Astra portrays the solemn, wounded relationship between father and son, mild years away, and nonetheless linked by means of the loneliness of the cosmos. It’s troublesome to not depart this film feeling empty, as Roy by no means really finds what he is on the lookout for in his lacking dad. Succumbing to the lyrical loneliness of area, Roy finds that there isn’t any one else on the market. He finds a renewed sense of connection to his fellow people, however at the price of shedding his creator – his father.

‘Interstellar’ (2014)

Cooper on the ice planet in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.

Interstellar is a masterpiece in fashionable sci-fi, each within the story and in visuals. Christopher Nolan made a house for the sorrow of a misplaced household, the regrets of a life unlived, and really actual environmental struggles. The movie can also be residence to considered one of Hans Zimmer’s greatest scores, with every bit of music including emotion to pictures of barren area.

Space is the final word type of isolation. Man’s oldest query is, “Where did we come from?” and Interstellar performs with this in an interesting manner. It hints at a “them,” some type of otherworldly anomaly that controls area and time, however by no means solidifies what “they” are. It additionally performs with the innate concern that people have of shedding time and turning into a ghost to these they love.

‘Sunshine’ (2007)

Searle standing in front of the sun in Sunshine.

In Sunshine, Earth is on the trail to destruction whereas the solar dies out. After earlier failed missions, a crew of women and men are tasked with delivering an enormous atomic bomb by means of area to revive it. Danny Boyle creates the fascinating spaceship, Icarus, with a visceral presentation loaded with sterile shuttle backgrounds, and plush landscapes of greens and blues within the ship’s flora.

Sunshine is a misunderstood triumph within the style. Many who watch the movie take a look at in the course of the last act because of the film taking a flip for horror. But what Sunshine does greatest is make viewers really feel on their own. When Cillian Murphy’s Capa is the one one left on the ship, he’s humanity’s final hope. To discover solace in dying in area, on their own, for a higher trigger, is an extremely chilling selection to consider.

‘Arrival’ (2016)

Dr. Louise Banks communicates with the aliens in Arrival.

Denis Villeneuve brings a number of the most heart-wrenching tales to life in his sci-fi movies, giving them vivid and unforgettable visuals. Arrival is predicated on Ted Chiang’s story, “Story of Your Life,” and tells the story of a linguist tasked with studying the best way to talk with the extraterrestrial creatures that contact down on Earth.

Like many different sci-fi films, Arrival portrays the idea of time in a non-linear style. Instead of it going from a starting to an finish, it’s a big circle – a unending, cyclical energy of the universe. Once Louise Banks learns that the aliens’ language alters people’ notion of time, she discovers simply how merciless the miracle of life actually is.

‘District 9’ (2009)

The alien spaceship above the city in District 9.

Aliens lastly arrive on Earth in District 9, in the way in which of a gargantuan flying saucer that refuses to return to their dying residence planet. The aliens are managed by an organization and are deeply neglected whereas having their know-how stolen by people.

District 9 places forth many humanistic questions on immigration, the “other,” and the collapse of a society’s morals. Humans are identified to crave the consolation of routine and this movie portrays the in a single day change of not solely having to accommodate a brand new species, however the absolute concern of one thing apart from you. This is seen completely within the transformation of Wikus’ character when he modifies from human to alien. The ethical problem he should face after turning into the monster he hates most is gorgeous.

‘Moon’ (2009)

Sam Bell on the moon in Moon.

In Moon, Sam Bell should undergo his three-year shift at a lunar mine alone. During the movie, he’s lastly nearing the tip of his job when he falls very ailing and begins to satisfy youthful variations of himself on his area station.

Moon wrestles with the existence of clones and the mortality of life. Each of Sam’s clones thinks it’s an unique being with its personal recollections. It is a horrifying realization for Sam to grasp that he isn’t. It’s even worse to consider how somebody designed him, made him, and that he truly by no means had any free will in any respect.

‘Possessor’ (2020)

Brandon Cronenberg's Possessor mask.

Possessor tells the story of Tasya, an murderer who can take management of different folks’s our bodies to carry out her high-profile executions. The movie portrays a recent tackle mind-control, consciousness, and bodily autonomy.

The juxtaposition between Tasya being a mom and spouse and likewise a sadistic assassin is uncomfortable and harrowing to look at. When issues take a flip for the worst, it’s troublesome to recollect who’s controlling Tasya and making her kill her family. The thoughts is the final a part of your self that may not be infiltrated as a human, and never having the ability to inform whether or not you might be accountable for your consciousness or not is terrifying.

‘Solaris’ (1972)

Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris 1972.

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris was filmed in 1972 and nonetheless holds up as an unmatched legacy to at the present time. When a psychologist is shipped to an area station to observe the psychological issues of its inhabitants, he discovers that the water of the planet is a kind of mind, residence to all kinds of repressed recollections.

The movie offers with the ghosts of family members and the lack of recollections in a hauntingly stunning manner. It additionally ponders the cyclical nature of trauma and the nonlinear methods wherein people cope with grief. Kelvin seems to be again on Earth along with his household on the ending, however he’s nowhere close to it, and that could be a dreadful factor to behold.

‘Blade Runner 2049’ (2017)

Officer K in Blade Runner 2049.

In among the best sequels to a legacy that has ever been filmed, Blade Runner 2049 has all of it. From stunningly desolate cinematography to the just about wordless script, each single a part of Blade Runner’s sequel oozes with existential questions.

Villeneuve is infamous for making his sci-fi movies rooted in actuality, which is why nearly all the pieces onscreen seems to be prefer it might be invented within the very close to future, and never in another dimension that does not exist. This is why his movies resonate so deeply. They really feel tangible and cope with very human feelings like loneliness, AI, and a future wherein people proceed to lose reference to each other.

‘Annihilation’ (2018)

Natalie Portman with her mimic in Annihilation Lena
Image through Paramount Pictures

Annihilation is exclusive in that’s as a lot a psychological horror movie as it’s a sci-fi movie. The film follows a gaggle of people that enter the extraterrestrial zone referred to as “The Shimmer,” a mysteriously populated place that’s residence to mutated crops and animals.

The eeriest scene on this film is when Lena faces her humanoid mirrored “self” on the finish. There is nothing fairly as unnerving as seeing a doppelgänger model of your self that you just can not damage or depart. The movie leaves audiences with the query of whether or not or not Lena continues to be herself, or if her consciousness is now one thing extra sinister.

‘The Matrix’ (1999)

Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity and Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix

The Wachowskis‘ first entry into the extremely in style franchise wants no introduction, as The Matrix is a basic that set a brand new normal within the style. It follows Thomas Anderson, an unassuming laptop programmer with the hacker alias, Neo. A sequence of weird encounters results in the belief that issues aren’t what they appear.

While the award-winning film is thought for its cool motion sequences and badass characters, it additionally launched a number of viewers to the disturbing idea that they might be dwelling in a simulated actuality. It’s unsettling to consider aliens retaining humanity imprisoned, and it is not the one state of affairs that may depart folks susceptible but blissfully unaware of their captivity.

‘Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind’ (2004)

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'
Image through Focus Features

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a romantic science fiction film with a cult following. Michel Gondry’s masterpiece portrays the frantic, heartbreaking, and profound occasions that comply with when Joel Barish decides to have his recollections of his girlfriend Clementine Kruczynski erased. He’s damage that she has finished the identical factor, however does not notice till it is too late that he does not need her to vanish from his mine.

The know-how within the movie by the New York City agency Lacuna presents a horrifying risk, particularly contemplating scientists are engaged on an analogous device in the actual world. Like Joel or Clem, folks might quickly not even know that they are lacking an enormous chunk of a once-essential a part of their lives – throw consumerism into the combination, and it is a nightmare state of affairs.

‘Inception’ (2010)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb in Inception

Dom Cobb is knowledgeable “extractor” in Nolan’s mind-bending blockbuster, Inception. His job entails infiltrating his victims’ unconscious to steal info. When he will get an irresistible supply, he organizes a staff to aim the unprecedented motion of implanting an concept as an alternative of taking one. However, nobody expects what they discover deep throughout the goal’s thoughts.

With its dizzying layers and novel ideas, the movie induces existential dread by means of a singular query – is actuality all a dream? The iconic ending with the spinning prime leaves viewers questioning if Cobb is ever really capable of differentiate between the unconscious and the actual world, which is a mistake that is manner too straightforward to make.

‘High Life’ (2018)


Claire DenisHigh Life is ready in a bleak future the place criminals are recycled by means of area journey. It follows a gaggle of convicts who’re despatched to area and experimented on alongside the way in which. What’s worse, they’re headed proper for a black gap. The movie focuses on Monte, who brings his younger daughter alongside for the doomed journey.

The film is uncooked, disturbing, and clever. Thanks to its exploration of hard-hitting themes like identification, humanity, and religion, viewers can anticipate to be awed and never even know the correct inquiries to ask after it is over.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ (2022)

Evelyn split across dimensions in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once rightly grew to become a global hit when it premiered earlier this 12 months. In an oversaturated style stuffed with multiverses, the A24 movie stands out by means of its wild visuals, wacky humor, and tear-jerking story. It’s centered on an overworked and getting older Evelyn Wang, who quickly learns that she’s the one one who can save all the pieces that exists.

Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the movie takes viewers on a protracted journey by means of existential dread earlier than introducing optimistic nihilism. Most will be capable to relate to Evelyn’s conundrum – there are such a lot of prospects of what might have been, and she or he’s clearly dwelling the worst model of her life. Stick with it till the profound ending and followers know that the film leaves them with an necessary reminder to embrace life anyway, regardless of how chaotic, troublesome, and downright bizarre it may be.

NEXT: 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Of All Time, According To IMDb

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