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Nope is the third film by critically acclaimed and Oscar-winning director and writer, Jordan Peele. For those unaware, Peele started his career in comedy, but as of 2017, he became a renowned horror film writer and director with three movies, including Get Out (2017), Us (2019), and most recently, Nope (2022). The sci-fi horror film follows the Haywood siblings, OJ (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (played by Keke Palmer), who discover a “bad miracle” has been placed upon them in the form of a ravenous UFO terrorizing their California farm. The siblings, who are horse trainers in the entertainment business, become determined to capture the impossible shot of the creature and figure out why and how it is eating people. In typical Peele style, Nope is packed with symbolism and social commentary on the Black American experience.
Those who have seen the film already and are looking for another like it may enjoy this list of movies. These movies are not just about fighting and/or befriending aliens like E.T. or the Alien series. These movies combine sci-fi, horror and a conclusion that really makes the viewer think. Check out this list of films for otherworldly frights that have an underlying meaning. They are ranked by their IMDb rating and Rotten Tomatoes scores.
10. Cell (2016)
IMDb rating: 4.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 11%
Cell is a 2016 horror film directed by Tod Williams, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The story revolves around a mysterious signal transmitted through cell phones that turns users into violent, zombie-like creatures. The film follows Clay Riddell, played by John Cusack, as he navigates a post-apocalyptic world and bands together with others, including Tom McCourt (played by Samuel L. Jackson), in a desperate attempt to survive and find a way to stop the deadly signal from spreading further. While it is not highly rated, it definitely has a spot on this list of movies like Nope because of its subject matter. The movie delves into themes of technology, survival and the breakdown of society in the face of a catastrophic event.
9. Black Box (2020)
IMDb rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
Black Box is a 2020 science fiction thriller directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. The film follows a man named Nolan, portrayed by Mamoudou Athie, who struggles with amnesia after a devastating car accident that also claimed the life of his wife. Seeking to regain his memories and rebuild his life for the sake of his daughter, he undergoes an experimental treatment led by a neuroscientist, played by Phylicia Rashad, involving a high-tech device known as the Black Box. As Nolan delves deeper into the mysterious technology, he discovers disturbing and surreal secrets about his past, leading to a gripping exploration of identity, memory and the ethical implications of tampering with the human mind.
8. Life (2017)
IMDb rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
Life is a 2017 science fiction horror film directed by Daniel Espinosa. The movie follows a team of astronauts aboard the International Space Station who discover extraterrestrial life in a sample retrieved from Mars. Initially celebrated as a groundbreaking discovery, the alien organism, named “Calvin,” quickly evolves into a highly intelligent and hostile creature. As Calvin grows more powerful and dangerous, the crew faces a desperate battle for survival as the creature hunts them down within the confines of their spacecraft. The film explores themes of the unknown, the fragility of life in space and the perils of encountering an alien intelligence that proves to be a formidable and relentless adversary.
7. I Am Legend (2007)
IMDb rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
I Am Legend is a 2007 post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Francis Lawrence and based on the novel by Richard Matheson. Starring Will Smith as virologist Robert Neville, the story is set in a world devastated by a man-made virus that turns humans into vicious, nocturnal mutants. Neville, seemingly the last human survivor in New York City, spends his days scavenging for supplies and conducting experiments to find a cure while fending off the infected creatures. The film explores Neville’s isolation, his struggle to maintain sanity amidst loneliness and his determination to find a way to reverse the pandemic that has transformed the world. I Am Legend delves into themes of survival, sacrifice and the human capacity for resilience in the face of unimaginable odds.
6. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021)
IMDb rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is a 2021 indie horror film directed by Jane Schoenbrun. The movie follows a teenager named Casey, played by Anna Cobb, who becomes immersed in an online role-playing game called the World’s Fair Challenge, known for its eerie and mysterious nature. As Casey delves deeper into the game, blurring the lines between reality and fiction, she undergoes a disturbing transformation that blurs her perception of self and reality. The film explores themes of identity, loneliness and the disconcerting influence of online communities, delving into the psychological effects of internet culture on vulnerable individuals. It’s a haunting and introspective take on the consequences of immersion in virtual worlds and the search for connection in a digital age. This commentary makes it perfect for anyone looking for movies like Nope.
5. No One Will Save You (2023)
IMDb rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%
No One Will Save You is a sci-fi horror film released on September 19, 2023 and was directed by Brian Duffield. The story follows a young recluse named Brynn who is isolated by her community and living alone. Brynn has to take on a home invasion one night against inhuman intruders that leads to unexpected consequences. Dhruv Sharma for Screen Rant noted that Brynn only has one line containing a few words of dialogue throughout the entire film. Sharma continued that this is intentionally portrayed in a “show-not-tell” way in order to highlight Brynn’s battle with guilt, grief and isolation.
4. The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
IMDb rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 post-apocalyptic horror-drama directed by Colm McCarthy, adapted from M.R. Carey’s novel. Set in a world ravaged by a fungal infection turning people into zombie-like creatures known as “hungries,” the story centers on Melanie, a young girl with a special bond to the infection. She, along with other children, displays a unique ability to control their hunger and maintain their human selves while still having the infection. As their base is overrun, Melanie, a teacher and a few soldiers must embark on a dangerous journey to find safety, facing moral dilemmas and exploring the blurred lines between humanity and monstrosity along the way. The film is a compelling exploration of survival, identity and the ethical complexities of a shattered world.
3. Annihilation (2018)
IMDb rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland, is a 2018 science fiction film based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel. The story follows Lena, a biologist played by Natalie Portman, who joins an expedition into a mysterious environmental anomaly known as “The Shimmer.” Within this shimmering, mutating area, the laws of nature seem distorted, leading to bizarre and often terrifying phenomena. As the team ventures deeper, they encounter mutated creatures and surreal landscapes while Lena grapples with personal demons and the haunting mysteries of the shimmer. Annihilation is worthy of its placement on the list of movies like Nope as it is an intense and thought-provoking exploration of self-destruction, evolution, and the eerie beauty found within the unknown and unknowable facets of the universe.
2. The Vast of Night (2019)
IMDb rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
The Vast of Night is a 2019 science fiction film directed by Andrew Patterson, set in the 1950s in a small town in New Mexico. The story unfolds during one night as a young switchboard operator, Fay, and a charismatic radio DJ, Everett, discover a mysterious audio frequency that leads them to uncover a potential extraterrestrial presence. As they delve deeper into this enigmatic signal, they uncover unsettling truths about the town’s secrets and its encounter with the unknown. Shot with an immersive, vintage aesthetic and told through captivating dialogue and suspenseful pacing, the film explores themes of curiosity, the fear of the unknown and the wonder of the unexplored mysteries beyond the world’s understanding.
1. A Quiet Place (2018)
IMDb rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
A Quiet Place, directed by John Krasinski, is a 2018 horror-thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by blind creatures with hypersensitive hearing that hunt by sound. The film follows the Abbott family, led by Lee (played by Krasinski) and Evelyn (portrayed by Emily Blunt), as they strive to survive in near silence. The family communicates through sign language to avoid attracting the deadly creatures. The tension heightens as they navigate the dangers of a sound-sensitive world, especially after Evelyn becomes pregnant, leading to a nerve-wracking struggle for survival against the creatures that hunt by sound. The film masterfully utilizes silence and tension to create a gripping atmosphere while exploring themes of family, survival and the lengths people go to protect their loved ones in a hostile world. A fun fact that makes A Quiet Place one of these movies like Nope is that, similar to Peele, Krasinski is well known for acting in The Office, a beloved comedy series, and later ventured into directing horror films.