Writers and filmmakers have long been fascinated by the idea of what the future might look like. It rarely looks good. The future is more commonly imagined as a grim dystopia rather than an idyllic utopia. And no wonder…sci fi horror is the perfect vehicle to explore humanity’s darker nature, and to show how, if we continue on the path we’re currently on, we can ruin the world for future generations. Here are some of our favorite films about a not so rosy future world. Warning…some spoilers ahead.
The film Cloud Atlas by the Wachowskis is based on David Mitchell’s brilliant novel of the same name. While the story spans hundreds of years from the past to the distant future, there are two subplots about the future that stand out as particularly grim. In “An Orison of Sonmi” we see how advances in technology lead us to view humans as very disposable commodities. In “Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After” we see the results of the collapse of civilization in the far distant future.
Never Let Me Go
The shocking and heartbreaking Never Let Me Go, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, has a similar theme to the Sonmi story in Cloud Atlas. In the near future, we meet a group of young people living a strange, isolated existence in a boarding school-type institution. We learn that they are in fact raised solely for the purpose of harvesting their organs and body parts for other people, and then they are disposed of when near death.
Bruce Willis plays a man named Cole who lives in a very bleak, grim future and is sent back to the past (our present day) to try to prevent a group of animal activists from releasing a virus into the world that will nearly destroy the human population and plunge the world into darkness. But do the leaders of the dystopian future society really want the virus stopped? Director Terry Gilliam’s unique vision helps make this an unforgettable cautionary tale.
This movie takes place in the year 2054, in a world where crime is eliminated by the use of “Pre-Cogs”—people who can see into the future and predict crime. When the Pre-Cogs predict that a leader of the “Pre-Crime” squad will commit a murder, he goes on a desperate quest to figure out what could be going on. Things get pretty crazy, especially when one of the Pre-Cogs issues a “minority report” of the crime that differs from the others.
Children of Men
In the year 2027, women have become infertile and a child has not been born for nearly 20 years, leaving society in a state of unrest and decay. Theo, the protagonist, meets a woman named Kee who has somehow gotten pregnant. They try to keep her pregnancy, and then the girl she gives birth to, a secret, fearing the authorities will take her away. Will the baby survive, and could she be the key to a new, better world?