10 Must See Dystopian Films
by Ryanne Campbell and Hamza Karim
Vivarium (2019): How easy would it be for an outside being to replicate our human nature? Vivarium tells the story of a young couple who, looking for the perfect home, find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses. Commenting on how suburban American life can be repetitive and dull, the film depicts the struggles of being stuck in a mysterious and unforgiving neighborhood.
The Platform (2019): A jail with hundreds of platforms. Two prisoners on each. Each month they are randomly assigned a new platform, always hoping to be at the top where the table of food is mostly untouched. There is enough food for everyone, but whether or not people eat depends on how selfless the prisoners on top are. This film attempts to mirror the wealth gap that exists in many countries and depicts the struggle with greed and uncertainty.
Snowpiercer (2014): From the director of Parasite, starring Marvel actor Chris Evans, comes an action-packed film whose story focuses on social inequality. Set in a fictional world in the middle of an Ice Age, the setting is a fast-moving train. The poor stay back in the train where beds are small, rooms are repulsive, and food consists of bricks made of melted insects. The rich, on the other hand, have education, luxury, and comfort. The social struggle, retaliation, and vast wealth inequality are meant to highlight, in a more exaggerated manner, how our society is today.
Parasite (2019): When the members of poor family get hired for different jobs by a wealthy family, we see how greed, falsification, and vast economic differences transform a dishonest attempt to increase economic stature into unexpected horror and tragedy. This film makes you pity both the rich and poor: the poor due to their desperation, repulsive lifestyle, and horrid living conditions, and the rich due to the utter obliviousness to the society that surrounds them and the fact that they are only valued for their wealth.
Midsommar (2019): This chilling breakup film shows a young couple attending a retreat in Sweden, only to find themselves in an extremely disturbing situation. Commenting on the effects of drugs during a major emotional time for the main character, Midsommar shows how finding peace in a communal sense doesn’t always leave you better off. Although not your classic horror film at first glance, it leaves the audience uncomfortable and confused.
Joker (2019): Based on the DC comic, this film is part psychological thriller, part social commentary. It examines the tragedies and perennial tensions that underlie our own society, including issues related to mental and social health, wealth inequality, loneliness, and assault. The story offers an origin story for the Joker, a fan-favorite among fans of the Batman series. There is plenty of violence and dark humor, as well as superb acting, in this tragicomedy.
The Maze Runner (2014): Adapted from the novel, following the downfall of their former society, a group of teens find themselves trying to escape a mysterious and ever-changing maze, uncertain of what will be on the outside when they do. While this is going on, the teens work to establish a functioning society in what they call the glade. This film highlights the importance of friendships, trust, and will power.
What Happened to Monday (2017): In a society where each family is limited to one child, septuplets are born. When one of the sisters goes missing, the others must find her while remaining unknown to the outside world. With echoes of China's One-Child Policy, the story is also about learning to lead a life with one identity to the outside world and hiding from government execution.
The Fifth Wave (2016): Wave 1, darkness. Wave 2, destruction. Wave 3, infection. Wave 4, invasion. Four waves of deadly alien attacks have left much of the planet Earth in ruins. Follow the main character of this film through periods of distrust, fear, and uncertainty as she attempts to save her younger brother while her world crumbles before her eyes.
The Thinning (2016): It is 2039 and Earth is overpopulated. The UN announces that all nations must cut their populations by 5 percent each year. They call this "the thinning." In a system in which one standardized test determines if you live or die, three teens discover the truth and learn far the highest in society will go to be considered the best.