We can always depend on thrillers to deliver pulse-pounding action and stress-inducing suspense.
Due to its unrelenting structure, the thriller is ideal for blending with other genres—like science-fiction. Love crime thrillers? How about a time-traveling crime thriller? Enjoy spy thrillers? Imagine what that would look like on another planet. The possibilities are endless.
To that end, here are 11 thriller sci-fi movies that combine the excitement of the thriller genre with the settings and beloved tropes of science fiction.
Based on a short story by the legendary Philip K. Dick, this dystopian movie introduces us to a future where psychics can identify criminals before they break the law. Sounds great, right? Not so fast.
In a perfect example of good intentions put to bad uses, police use this information to apprehend would-be perpetrators before they ever commit the crime in the first place. Which raises the question: is the future set in stone, or can people alter their fate?
A Quiet Place
Before its sequel rebooted a box office still sluggish from a lingering pandemic, A Quiet Place showed us how terrifying the slightest noise can be. You'd be terrified too if even stepping on a twig could summon an alien monster and your inevitable death.
While the brilliant sound design and portrayal of a Deaf character takes center stage, the film makes effective use of tension. You'll never look at a protruding nail the same way again.
The Butterfly Effect
Ever want to go back in time and change the past? Aston Kutcher plays a young man with the ability to do just that. More specifically, he inhabits his younger self, but with all the knowledge of an adult.
Armed with his adult experiences, he begins to alter the past in the hopes of fixing his present. But if you've ever read Ray Bradbury’s "The Sound of Thunder," you'll know it's not so easy to get the results you want.
Androids are a staple of science fiction. So are androids that can pass for human. And so is the often-tragic trope of humans developing feelings for what is essentially a human-shaped computer.
Here, we see those familiar elements but the way they're arranged is gripping. We know who the android is, but do we really know who's in control?
RELATED: 12 Books About Robots Taking Over
We've seen many films about surviving in the wilderness after a plane crash or shipwreck. Now take all that stress and adrenaline-fueled decision-making and set it in space.
Sandra Bullock plays a woman on her first space mission, which has gone horribly wrong. Being an astronaut sounds cool and all, but some of us would rather keep our feet on the ground after watching this film.
Science fiction loves using time travel to explore how meddling with the past affects the future, and Looper is no different.
In the future, organized gangs send their enemies back in time to be murdered. The assassins who kill these people are known as loopers. Of course, this knowledge puts the gang in a precarious situation, so eventually these loopers are sent back to their past selves to be eliminated.
Got that? But now, you must be wondering: what happens when a looper fails to kill their future self?
You can't talk about thriller sci-fi movies without mentioning top secret government experiments involving aliens. How timely given the recently declassified documents regarding the U.S. government’s knowledge of unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAPs), aka UFOs.
Super 8 combines nostalgia, adolescent coming-of-age, and of course, an alien who just wants to go home.
What Happened to Monday
Noomi Rapace does some serious heavy lifting as identical septuplets living in a dystopian future that enforces a one child per family policy. How do the seven sisters circumvent this law? They all pretend to be the same person. It’s like The Prestige but on steroids.
Of course, their strategy goes awry when one of the sisters—each conveniently named for a day of the week—disappears.
RELATED: 10 Shocking Dystopian Fiction Books
Horror? Thriller? Sometimes the line between the two genres can be blurry, as A Quiet Place demonstrates. Pitch Black also straddles the boundary. Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, there's no denying that this movie is stressful.
Imagine crash landing on a desert planet where multiple suns result in perpetual day. Now imagine what happens when all those suns are eclipsed. It may be a rare event, but rare doesn't mean never. If noise stressed you out in A Quiet Place, darkness will make you nervous in Pitch Black.
Time is money, and this film brings that old adage to life. In the future, time has become the most precious commodity. You stop physically aging at 25, which sounds great until you realize you’ll die in a year unless you get more time transferred to your "internal clock."
Under this system, the Have Nots are trapped in atrocious working conditions, while the Haves are effectively immortal. But what happens when a Have Not gets more time on his internal clock than he could ever dream of?
Other thrillers have made stellar use of countdown timers—think disarming a ticking bomb before it explodes—but here people have literal countdown timers on their arms. Time runs out, they die. Talk about keeping us on pins and needles.
Children of Men
The second Alfonso Cuarón film on this list (the other was Gravity), this near-future thriller sci-fi movie offers us a glimpse of a world on the verge of collapse.
The human race may be familiar with war in its long history. We also have plenty of experience with economic downturns. What we don't have the coping skills for is nearly two decades of human infertility. Not decreasing birth rates, but the complete and utter inability to reproduce.
It's in this bleak setting that Clive Owen’s character meets the only pregnant woman on earth. One of the highlights of this stellar film are the long single-shot sequences, which are both nail-biting and admirable from a directorial perspective.
RELATED: 16 Powerful Post-Apocalyptic Books