I am sure you’ll remember Ex Machina. A film that was astounding in its concept and innovative in its execution. Director of Ex Machina, Alex Garland, immediately shot to fame. But instead of making a superhero or a Star Wars film, he choose to make another sci-fi horror classic ‘Annihilation’.
Genuinely scary, the movie slips under your skin before you realize it is there. Dread builds, slowly, but once it starts and never ends. Garland brings to the story deep philosophical questions and leaving the answers to you. That’s the reason why I fell in love with the film. And if you did too, here’s the list of movies similar to Annihilation that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like Annihilation on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
12. District 9 (2009)
This Neill Blomkamp’s debut film is an audaciously interesting — and entertaining — project where he turns the concept of aliens based movies upside down. Completely original and technically brilliant, ‘District 9’ is also surprisingly touching. And that’s why it unexpectedly cracked into the Best Picture Oscar nomination list for 2009. A film that’s closest companion piece to Annihilation on this list.
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11. Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)
The film follows a soldier who inadvertently finds himself fighting on the front lines during an alien invasion that threatens to takeover Earth. After being exposed to the alien’s blood, he is then caught in a time loop. Stuck repeating the same day over and over, he grows into a ruthless killing machine with each passing “day.” Again, brilliant in its concept, this film is just fucking awesome.
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10. The Abyss (1989)
James Cameron directed this often poetic film about aliens from the stars living beneath our oceans, here to warn us about our fighting ways. A crew working on a vessel in the sea have an encounter they cannot explain, and when investigate they are thrilled with what they find. Ed Harris leads the motley crew under water never knowing they are going to connect with a race from the cosmos. The Directors Cut is the definitive version of the film, and the one to see. Great visual effects, hell, great everything.
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9. Prometheus (2012)
Officially, the fifth installment of the ‘Alien’ franchise, ‘Prometheus’ has an aura of its own and maintains a different identity as compared to the other movies of the franchise. Turning out to be one of the most profitable ventures of the franchise, the movie begins with the crew of a ship named Prometheus that has landed on a barren, distant moon in the late 21st century, trying to explore the origins of humankind based on a star map, before they could realize the trap and the fact that mankind itself could be in a grave danger. ‘Prometheus’ not only maintains the thrill-seeking audiences’ edge-of-the-seat experience, but it will also certainly make the audiences explore the grandeur of uncharted moons and planets. With spellbinding performances (esp. Michael Fassbender, who is beyond captivating), terrifying alien creatures and the watertight screenplay, ‘Prometheus’ is a must watch.
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8. Avatar (2009)
James Cameron’s extraterrestrial epic needs no introduction. People may call it overrated, overdone or hyped, but ‘Avatar’ to this day remains to be one of the most successful alien sci-fi movies in terms of its revenues and perhaps one of the best in terms of its CGI as it stands out. Not only did Cameron outdo himself and the expectations we had on him, with a relatively less-famous star cast, he certainly has accomplished the unachievable. With the sequel in the offing (hopefully!), ‘Avatar’ is also a tremendously beautiful adventure movie, if one thinks about it. It is the story of a crippled marine venturing into alien territories with little or no knowledge, gaining insider information, falling in love with their ways (and their women), getting trained in combat and killing his own species in the end, all while he has donned a different “Avatar” – that of one of the indigenous species called Na’vi. Agree or not, ‘Avatar’ is definitely one of the movies on this list that was way ahead of its time and is good as new, even if you watch it today.
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7. War of the Worlds (2005)
Spielberg gave this film a 9/11 allegory, which simply added to the terror he builds through the picture. Powerful scenes of extraordinary destruction are seen throughout the film, none more powerful than the wild, crazed look of terror in the eyes of Tom Cruise after seeing people turned to ash before his eyes. The white powder covering him, is all that remains of them. The effects are superb, the creatures unique, and aside from a very silly reunion scene at the end, it is a superb, terrifying picture.
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6. Aliens (1986)
The sequel to the fine film of 1979, director James Cameron merges science fiction with horror with war and the result is a stunning picture about hostile, acid bleeding aliens who use humans as the hosts for their babies, which then burst through the chest of said host. Set eighty years after the end of the first, Ripley goes back to a planet as an advisor, but when the beasts wipe out her crew she is left virtually alone to fight the queen. Beautifully acted, directed, edited, shot, with superb effects and seemingly non-stop action. The picture captures superbly the abject terror of fighting a superior enemy we do not understand.
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5. Ex Machina (2015)
If you loved Annihilation, how can you not see Alex Garland’s best film. What started as a film exploring artificial intelligence becomes a representative of artificial love or affection instead and Alex Garland has made something that keeps his audience right at the edge of their seats. Be it the philosophical dialogues or Nathan’s representation of human behavior, ‘Ex Machina’ passes on ever occasions by quite a huge margin. The atmosphere is mysterious and Alicia Vikander is the soul of the movie, she outshines everyone here and her character Ava is anything but artificial, rather she makes our protagonist look like an advanced version of “An upright ape living in the dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.” All the incidents take place inside a futuristic room isolated from the rest of the world surrounded by stunning natural beauty; in a session with Ava, Caleb mentioned that it is nature, the blue sky or a beautiful scenery that differentiates a computer with a man and maybe as a hint we frequently get glimpses of those dazzling landscapes in the middle of the narrative.
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4. Jurassic Park (1993)
The Summer Blockbuster phenomenon reached its zenith with Steven Spielberg’s game-changing adventure drama that brought dinosaurs back to life on-screen. ‘Jurassic Park’ was undoubtedly the cinema for a generation of kids who grew up in the 90s. Nostalgia certainly becomes a huge factor here but I do believe that ‘Jurassic Park’ is cinematic entertainment of the highest quality. I’ve revisited the film a couple times over the past few years and it’s safe to say that it really is an astonishing piece of a pure blissful cinematic ride. The film has aged brilliantly and that’s really saying a lot because technology has improved wildly over the last so many years and yet the visual aesthetics of the film do not come across as a tad bit dated. ‘Jurassic Park’ gave people a reason to go to the cinema and it continues to enthrall, excite and exhilarate, unlike any other film. Apparently, Spielberg “Spared No Expense” for this film.
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3. Alien (1979)
‘Alien’ is a conclusive proof that alien life is not supposed to be explored. Conceived by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, ‘Alien’ is the story about a man-hunting extra-terrestrial creature that stalks and attacks the crew of a spaceship. A science fiction film, this 1979 flick embraces the horror of the unknown with terrifying warmth. Preserved by the Library of Congress, the film set a benchmark for the horror genre which still hasn’t been surpassed. ‘Aliened’ is brilliantly symbolical, amalgamating the classic mystery of the fear and an unpleasant social construct.
Directed by Ridley Scott, this sci-fi horror film is vividly visual, intensifying the inner fear of the human and fear of a grotesque reality. While the aforementioned man-hunting alien is set as the primary character, the film utilizes the murkiness of the spaceship where the mysterious life form takes birth as an active character. Winning the Academy Award for “Best Effects, Visual Effects”, ‘Alien’ was met with immense critical praise and commercial success, and has since been regarded as one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time.
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2. Arrival (2016)
‘Arrival’ astounds you with its concept. A concept that surprisingly no writer/filmmaker ever thought of. If ever Aliens arrive to earth, chances of them engaging in a Spielberg-ian warfare are less. At least not before they try to communicate with us first. What’s also beautiful about ‘Arrival’ is that at its heart, it is a story of mother and the difficult choices she has to make.
With a cohesive screenplay and mature performances by the lead cast, ‘Arrival’ is a brilliantly directed science fiction film. Directed by Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, ‘Arrival’ follows linguist Louise Banks, essayed by Amy Adams, who is recruited by the military to communicate with alien life-forms after twelve mysterious spacecraft land around the world. This 2016 film enthrals audiences with its philosophical inferences and allegories on life, humanity and existence. Based on the short story ‘Story of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang, published in 1998, the Academy Award-nominated screenplay is luminously adapted by Eric Heisserer. The incandescent talent of the crew earned ‘Arrival’ the rare distinction of being nominated in the “Best Film” categories at the Academy Awards and BAFTA and was cited as being the best science fiction movie of 2016 by various scientific institutions.
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1. Predator (1987)
The Predator franchise along with the Aliens, include the most iconic set of films from the sci-fi/horror category. Though they may be “ugly motherf*ckers”, the monsters have become so beloved among enthusiasts, they had their own cross-over film. ‘Predator’ was initially loathed by critics but was later reassessed, and its use of various genre tropes with some great practical effects by Stan Winston was heavily praised. Though the movie is set in a vast guerilla territory, the use of rainforests to create a feeling of entrapment heightened by the invisible extraterrestrial killer will always keep you on the edge of your seat.
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