Inverse Recommends

3 mind-blowing dystopian sci-fi thrillers on Netflix you need to watch ASAP

It’s time to add some new sci-fi titles to your streaming queue.

Originally Published: 
A science fiction scene of a man looking at technlogically advanced building, under an open blue sky...

Nothing is scarier than seeing a more twisted version of our world. And that’s what dystopian thrillers do well.

Great dystopian movies allow us to re-examine society at its most extreme. As Inverse’s Dais Johnston writes, “the best dystopian stories are the ones that take an already existing problem in our culture and then ‘turn up the volume.’”

Thanks to science fiction, dystopian stories can range from intimate and grounded cautionary tales to high-concept and complex action-packed fare. Whatever the sub-genre of dystopian sci-fi you are looking for, Netflix is sure to have something that suits your tastes.

Here are three distinctive dystopian thrillers you can stream right now on Netflix. Since Netflix can pull one of these titles from their streaming service at any moment, be sure to watch them before it’s too late.

3. Level 16

Level 16’s main character, Vivien, in the hallway at Vestalis Academy.

Dark Sky Films

Written and directed by Danishka Esterhazy, this 2018 movie is best described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Get Out. Level 16 follows a group of girls at Vestalis Academy, a strict underground facility that watches the girls’ every move.

While Level 16 takes a minimalist approach, its sparse setting ramps up the suspense and ultimately helps deliver a powerful message.

Here is a preview of Inverse’s recent recommendation:

The absence of material things and the gaps in knowledge are visually demonstrated with empty shots emphasizing the equally expansive and claustrophobic walls of the Vestalis Academy, with the action often limited to a section of the frame. The effect makes the viewer feel as small as these students. As they learn the truth and make their presence known, they finally do what they’ve been denied all their life: take up space.

2. The Platform

The Platform is often compared to Snowpiercer.


The 2019 Netflix original movie, The Platform, takes a different approach to the dystopian thriller. Whereas we see many films of this genre take things to extremes, The Platform takes big concepts and distills them into a simple plot and setting. Recalling a bit of Snowpiercer, the movie depicts a society that lives in a single tower, where the rich thrive on the top floors and the impoverished try to survive at the bottom.

Inverse’s recommendation hints at what to expect in The Platform:

Where Snowpiercer told the story of the lower class rising up against the higher classes, The Platform has a much smaller scope. It's the story of one man's mission to rise up against his fellow inmates and convince them not to stage a coup, but simply to make their voice heard.

1. ARQ

Renton (Robbie Amell) must break the time loop in ARQ.


If you are a fan of Edge of Tomorrow or The Strangers, ARQ is an excellent pick for you.

Blending action and time travel into its dystopian setting, ARQ is a 2016 Netflix original film that stars The Flash’s Robbie Amell as Renton, an engineer who creates a time loop machine. When three men invade Renton’s home and severely injure him, they touch the device, unleashing a feedback loop in the house. That means Renton gets stuck in a loop, reliving the home invasion, and he has to find a way to stop it before the world ends.

In their recommendation, Dais Johnston writes about ARQ:

Time loop movies have a rulebook of their own, and ARQ follows this to a T. As more and more characters become aware of the repeating cycles, the action gets more and more action packed, including cyanide gas, betrayal, hidden spies, and more timey-wimey shenanigans.

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