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6 Dystopian films that will give you haunting thoughts about the future

From an unavoidable societal collapse, to the apocalypse, to the domination of our machine overlords, there have been plenty of origins for a dystopian universe in cinema. Providing a look at the world after a calamity or disaster, there’s just something alluring (and haunting) about seeing the best and worst of humanity deal with a world already in ruins.

Dystopian movies explore concepts that deal with the environment in the aftermath of an apocalypse, the folly of human nature, freak accidents brought about by progress, and even our own outlandish imaginations of a world ravaged by something none of us could prepare for or control. It asks the question “what would humans do?” in a situation where the only option left is a near futile attempt at survival.

Dystopian movies are hellscapes in which we project a horrifying imagined world, but even more frightening are the ones that feel a little too realistic–movies that show us something like this could actually turn into a nightmarish reality. Here are 5 dystopian movies that may keep you up at night  thinking about your future.

1. Children of Men

Dystopian movies

Set in a future dystopian London, the population is plagued by an infertility defect, and no new person has been born in a long time, forcing mankind to face the inevitability of our extinction. 

A totalitarian future overrun by anarchy, division, and a mix of paranoia, frustration, and hopelessness of mankind’s end, sends Theo (Clive Faron) an ex-activist turned bureaucrat to protect Kee (Clare-Hope Naa K. Ashitey) the first woman to be pregnant in 18 years, as they journey towards the Human project, a location that may or may not even exist across the sea.

With the world in its final heel, and all hope lost, the survival of human race relies on whether they can keep Kee and her child alive.

2. The Purge

Dystopian movies

In a world where for 24 hours all crimes are legal, mankind’s worst side are on full display.

“The purge” is a government-mandated event where everyone can commit every imaginable crime possible within 24 hours, made possible with the intent of releasing pent-up aggression, hate, and anger by the masses to allow them to function normally for the rest of the year. 

Throughout the movie, many treat the purge like it should be an awful and barbaric event where they could lose their lives, but there are plenty who wait and look forward to the day, even having foreigners fly into the country for the experience, treating the purge as a holiday much like going sightseeing or to the beach but instead of a relaxing and peaceful time, they openly partake in murder and debauchery complete with their weapons and costumes.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

A bit more intense and over the top than others in this list, the movie depicts a post-apocalyptic world with a never-ending exchange of violence and death for what few resources society has left in the world, namely water and petrol.

It’s a world where everyone has gone primal, and where violence and murder aren’t just for survival but for entertainment too.

A world where epic desert death races with explosive tricked-out machines between savage tribes and barbarians happen, but at the end of the day the world is still irreversibly damaged and nothing will get better, with mankind reduced to fighting for measly scraps.

4. Snowpiercer

A future where a failed effort to stop global warming forces the world to undergo another ice age, and kills all life on Earth, except for residents of the “Snowpiercer”, a train that travels across the globe.

With scarce resources and a class system where the top controls the train and greatly oppresses the people at the bottom, the movie follows Curtis (Chris Evans) a member of the lower class that lives in squalor and poverty at the tail of the train, as he fights for better conditions and navigates his way through the Snowpiercer. 

The movie depicts what people can do and tolerate in dreadful conditions, and the lengths they’ll go to for survival even at the cost of other people’s, shown with one horrifying revelation after another that’ll have you pondering whether you would have done the same.

5. Soylent Green

Soylent Green is set in a very industrialized New York City in the year 2022 (well hello there). It tells the tale of Detective Thorn and his partner Solomon “Sol” Roth’s investigation of a murder case of the board member of the Soylent Industries company which provides food for the population. They discover a dark secret that lies inside the Soylent Industries factory–Clue: You are what you eat.

6. Wall-E

Dystopian movies

Leave it to Disney and Pixar to create an adorable dystopian movie. The movie shows two cute robots, WALL-E, a trash-cleaning robot, and EVE, a sample collector that checks for habitability on a planet, and their adventures in navigating a world overflowing with trash. While cute, the movie actually depicts the limits of our environment, showing a world that’s ruined by trash piles as tall as buildings and taking up land as far as the eye can see, to the point where mankind had to leave earth.

WALL-E is a cautionary tale of what could happen to mankind and to the world if we don’t take care of our planet.


Other POP! stories you might like:

3 things the 1973 movie ‘Soylent Green’ got right about 2022

Do you feel old yet? Here are 10 movies that turn 10 this year

If you liked the movie, you’ll love the book: 10 films based on great reads

These Hollywood actors regret some of their past problematic roles


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