Sci-fi and fear go hand in hand. Often dealing with the unknown both within ourselves and in the vast darkness of the universe, sci-fi can inspire dread on a cosmic scale. The diversity of the genre makes for a massively varied menu of fear which, from a cinema seat, allows us to delve into realms of despair that can destroy humanity on a mass or individual scale.
Some of the earliest examples of sci-fi predate film. Instances of embryonic science-fiction from the Georgian and Victorian periods, such as Frankenstein or The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, naturally mix gothic horror with science to create their otherworldly terrors. These monsters from literature have given us some of our most enduring movie monsters.
This warped marriage of science and horror continues to develop in the world of celluloid nightmares. As technology has advanced, so have the frights. Scientific horrors are responsible for some of history’s darkest hours, cinema responded to that. Sci-fi became both commentary and warning, giving us some of cinema’s most disturbing moments.
Here are fifteen of the most disturbing sci-fi movies on offer...
15. Event Horizon
For a movie that didn’t make its budget back at the box office, was reviewed terribly at the time and which critics haven’t warmed to in retrospect; it’s curious that we’re still talking about Event Horizon. But we are. Critics don’t have the last say and the box-office isn’t everything. Event Horizon is a film that has never been forgotten, has a dedicated following and has made a lasting impact on pop-culture. Easily Paul W.S. Anderson’s most enduring film, Event Horizon is a standalone opus of dread.
Similar to The Exorcist, the movie developed a reputation as something taboo and dirty. Something you shouldn’t look directly at but somehow you can’t help yourself.
With its frantic visions of an extra-dimensional hell, a sense of evil pervades this movie. From the design of the ship, which seems to have malevolence in its very shape, to the soundscape of torturous ecstasy which kick starts the mystery; there is a sense of building dread throughout. By the time the demons arrive, that dread has painted itself across the screen in gore red tones. So much so that there were reports of vomiting audiences at the test screening. Again, like The Exorcist. There is a real texture to the horror which makes for a visceral experience, which viewers don’t forget.
It didn’t win Oscars, and there’s no point pretending it’s a masterpiece. But, like The Exorcist, the devil lives here.