Autumn is in full swing with Halloween fast approaching, so what are the best science fiction shows and movies on Netflix that lean towards the spooky and horrifying?
Netflix is leaning heavily into horror movies this October with its “Netflix and Chills” programming. The Shining really leads that off on October 1, but that’s entirely supernatural in nature and has nothing to do with science fiction. Late-October also has Castlevania Season 2 and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, exciting new releases but again, they don’t offer any science fiction.
What about those that want the science fiction and horror elements?
The next time you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow, here are the 11 best and spookiest pieces of science fiction that Netflix has to offer in October, with a focus on the new, exciting, and original but more importantly, the good recommendations.
Netflix’s habit of rescuing troubled Hollywood blockbusters may have finally paid off with Extinction, a star-studded sci-fi film with a mind-blowing ending. Michael Peña (Ant Man) plays the lead, a family man in the near future experiencing visions of an alien invasion that suddenly come true, alongside Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex, Party Down) and Mike Colter (Luke Cage).
Extinction takes a little while to get going, but once the action starts you’ll be glad you stuck it out.
10. Train to Busan
Train to Busan’s premise is ostensibly just “zombies on a train,” but writer and director Sang-Ho Yeon infuses it with enough excitement and humanity to create one of the best zombie stories in quite a while.
The central story involves a selfish, workaholic father taking his daughter on a birthday trip to see her mother. When the zombie outbreak deters their travel plans, a struggle for survival plays out as the two try to connect as father and child.
9. Ex Machina
I didn’t know what “edge of your seat” really meant in terms of thriller movies until I saw Ex Machina in the theater. Anyone who enjoyed Alex Garland’s Annihilation from earlier this year will probably like his last feature Ex Machina even more.
A programmer from a massive tech company wins a contest and gets to visit the company’s brilliant, billionaire founder. But on the founder’s remote compound, he’s been developing synthetic A.I. robot technology and wants someone to help … test them. Ex Machina goes from quirky, to strange, to creepy, to horrifying with enough cerebral tension to make you question whether you’re a human yourself.
In Her, the always excellent Joaquin Phoenix plays a man that falls in love with a disembodied voice akin to Siri or Alexa. Set in the near-future of Los Angeles, he’s a sensitive guy mourning the end of the long relationship. What sounds like a bit of a crazy premise is sold by filmmaker Spike Jonze with nothing short of delicate tenderness.
Considering Her won Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards, it’s basically a must-see for any fan of science fiction.
You probably saw this one coming. If Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom left a nasty, ash-flavored taste in your mouth, then there’s no better palate cleanser than rewatching the incomparable original Jurassic Park movie. Under the direction of Steven Spielberg, this first dino-flick captured a captivating kind of natural majesty that we really haven’t seen since. If you can’t get enough, Jurassic World III is indeed also on Netflix this July, but it’s nowhere near as good.
Netflix’s apocalyptic horror story will remind you of The Happening but with bad rain and a sci-fi dystopian lean. A virus in the rain wiped out most of the world’s population, and a band of survivors has to figure out what life looks like in such a world. Young kids struggling to survive works pretty well for The 100, and it does here as well.
Netflix’s latest 10-episode limited series, Maniac, tells the stories of Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill) in the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial that promises to cure their differing but equally severe mental disorders.
Emma Stone’s character calls it some “multi-reality brain magic shit” after the drugs they’re taking seemingly take them to entire different realities, leading to really intense, nightmarish shared hallucinations. Think Inception meets Legion meets Roy: A Life Well Lived from Rick and Morty.
The story comes from novelist Patrick Somerville, who wrote for The Leftovers. But what has me truly excited is director Cary Joji Fukunaga, the same guy who made True Detective Season 1 one of the greatest seasons of television ever.
5. The Rain
Netflix’s apocalyptic horror story will remind you The Happening but with bad rain and a sci-fi dystopian lean. A virus in the rain wiped out most of the world’s population, and a band of survivors has to figure out what life looks like in such a world. Young kids struggling to survive works pretty well for The 100, and it does here as well.
4. The 100
What they find is a planet with treacherous terrain, a few horrific monsters, and — against all odds — savage, surviving humans. The A-plot on the ground of Season 1 feels like Lord of the Flies, whereas the B-plot on the space station feels remarkably like Battlestar Galactica. While The 100 stumbles a bit by Seasons 3 and 4, it remains a solid option for contemporary sci-fi.
One of The CW’s best non-Arrowverse programs, The 100 is a veritable YA dystopian drama with a hard sci-fi premise. Following the nuclear apocalypse, a portion of humanity took to a series of connected space stations to survive the radiation. Almost a century later, supplies are diminishing, and a group of 100 delinquent children is sent down to test survivability on Earth’s surface.
This Lost in Space reboot is a classic spacefaring adventure reinvented for a contemporary audience. The Robinson family goes into space to write a new chapter in human history when the Earth is in crisis. This family of pioneering space colonists literally gets “lost in space” after their ship enters a rip in spacetime that sends them to an alien planet. The results are thrilling, gripping, and a lot of fun.
2. Black Mirror
Though it dips into the realm of horror and satire, Black Mirror is consistent with one question: What can technology do to us when it’s taken to extremes? Some episodes have more to do with social media or YouTube obsessions, but others dive deep into the implications of many hard sci-fi concepts, including the cyberization of the human mind, technological surveillance, and human-like A.I. machines. It’s provocative and exciting at its best and downright disturbing at its worst — but even then, it’s still high-quality science fiction.
Season 4 offers bleak and oftentimes disturbing analyses of not just the startling things technology might be able to do in the future, but also the dark and horrific things people choose to do with it. The episode everyone will probably talk about looks like a Star Trek parody, but in Black Mirror fashion it’s a much more sinister meditation on the dark wish fulfillment of technology.
Netflix’s wildly popular and totally awesome ‘80s nostalgia show about pre-teens combatting interdimensional threats came back for its second season just before Halloween. Though it inches towards dark mythical fantasy, Stranger Things represents some of Netflix’s best original programming.
In Season 1, after the young Will Byers goes missing from the small town of Hawkins, Indiana and a mysterious telekinetic girl appears, it’s up to Will’s friends and family to uncover the truth about the mysteries surrounding his otherworldly disappearance.
Stranger Things 2 brings the whole gang back — along with some newcomers — for an even bigger adventure set a year later.