This month saw the release of Jordan Peele’s latest box-office hit, Nope. The sci-fi horror follows the Haywards—owners of a sprawling ranch where they teach their horses to perform for TV and film. When an accident renders their father unable to work, siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) hatch a plan to keep the family business alive by documenting a supernatural occurrence.
Taking influence from films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Poltergeist, Peele demonstrates his love and respect for the sci-fi horror genre like no one else – and there is a lot to love.
This found footage film follows Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and his friends as they attend a rooftop party in New York City, only to be interrupted by what appears to be an earthquake. After witnessing an explosion in the distance, they panic and leave the building in search of safety, only to witness the destruction of the city by an unknown creature.
Rob leads his friends on a rescue mission when he discovers his ex-girlfriend Beth (Odette Annable) is injured and trapped in her apartment. Footage flickers between the horrific events of the night and, in parallel, the time before the event where Rob and Beth were happy together, making Cloverfield a heart-breaking disaster movie.
‘District 9’ (2009)
One of the best sci-fi movies of the 21st century, District 9, is a refugee camp in 1980s Johannesburg that housed the inhabitants of a spaceship after it found itself stuck on our planet. Rather than engaging in a war with the crustacean-like race of beings that arrived on the ship, humans allowed them to live in the slums of South Africa.
Later, the film follows Wikus Van Der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), who has been enlisted to evict the aliens and relocate them to a concentration camp. However, things become complicated when Wikus ignores precautions and becomes infected with their DNA during the evacuation. As Wikus fights his transformation into one of the beings, he must also fight against the government that wishes to use him as a weapon.
Genetic engineers Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) are a couple that works together to create hybrid beings for medical testing. By splicing the DNA of different animals together, they create two worm-like creatures and successfully mate them. However, wanting to push their work even further, they ignore the warnings of their bosses and decide to splice together the DNA of an animal and a human.
The experiment works, and a female human-animal hybrid is born. When the creature quickly develops like a human child, Elsa grows a motherly attachment and names her Dren. As Dren’s different abilities and her violent (almost hormonal) tendencies become clear, Elsa and Clive begin to regret their decisions as they realize that some things in nature should not be messed with.
‘The Mist’ (2007)
Renowned for its infamously bleak final act, this adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is terrifying and heartbreaking. When a thick mist descends on the town of Bridgton, Maine, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) finds himself trapped in a grocery store with his young son and some of the locals – including store Manager Ollie (Toby Jones), teacher Amanda (Laurie Holden), and religious fanatic Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden).
As different residents attempt to escape the store, they are dragged into the mist by a mysterious creature, never to return. With the remaining people becoming more frantic and unreasonable and the beasts from the mist closing in, David must devise a plan to break out and return home to his wife and the mother of his child. This grim and terrifying film is one of the best sci-fi movies streaming on Netflix now.
‘Dark Skies’ (2013)
The Barrett family—Lacy (Kerri Russell), Daniel (Josh Hamilton), and their children Jess (Dakota Goyo) and Sammy (Kadan Rockett)- experience strange occurrences in their home. Furniture moving of its own accord, alarms are sounding for seemingly no reason, birds flying into the windows, and the children experiencing sudden bouts of sleepwalking and confusion all lead Lacy to believe her family is in danger.
When marks appear on Sammy’s body and child protective services have to get involved, Lacy is determined to find out the true cause of the damage to her son and put an end to the terrifying incidents. Soon, with the help of extra-terrestrial expert Edwin (J.K Simmons), she links the events with local reports of alien abductions.
When crop circles appear on the farm of widow and former priest Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), he and his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) believe it is a prank by local vandals. However, as more begin to pop up in corn fields across the world, it becomes apparent that they are the result of something otherworldly.
Soon Graham, his two children, and his brother find themselves under attack on the farm and isolated from the rest of the world, with little understanding of what is going on around them. A fight to survive the night ensues, and as Graham questions the decision to turn his back on his faith, hope is found in an unexpected savior.
‘War of the Worlds’ (2005)
This haunting adaptation of the 1898 novel by H.G. Wells follows divorcee Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) as he is reunited with his estranged children—10-year-old Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and 16-year-old Robbie (Justin Chatwin)—just as a strange storm hits Brooklyn.
As Ray tries to rebuild the relationship with Rachel and Robbie, the city comes under attack from giant tripod machines that descend from the sky and massacre humans. War of the Worlds is a disaster movie that has frightened generations and will continue to do so for generations to come.
‘The Fourth Kind’ (2009)
Playing out like a mockumentary, The Fourth Kind is a mix of televised interviews with Psychologist Abigail Tyler (Charlotte Milchard) and her patients, as well as re-enactments that led to the film being made. In the re-enactments, Abigail is played by Milla Jovovich and is shown in interviews with several of her patients who describe strange hallucinations of creatures attempting to enter their homes during the night.
When one of her patients has a vision that ultimately leads them to murder, Abigail must investigate other patient testimonies and look back into her personal history with loss to understand what is happening.
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