Alien: Covenant comes out so soon and I honestly can’t wait much longer. I’m losing it. That movie is going to be SO good. And since aliens are on my mind I thought we’d rank the top 5 modern alien movies.
I’ll be excluding the obvious classics like Alien and The Thing because honestly they both deserve the number one spot and also DUH they’re the best. But what else is out there?
Aliens are a super common theme in horror starting all the way back in 1924 with the silent film Aelita made by Soviet filmmaker Yakov Protazanov. It tells the story of a man traveling to Mars to lead an uprising against the ruling group of Elders.
Then in 1951 we got the classic The Day the Earth Stood Still directed by Robert Wise about an alien visitor to Earth accompanied by an eight-foot tall robot. This movie went on to be re-made a few times. That same year we also got The Man From Planet X directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. And so began the alien craze that we still see today.
But there are a lot of bad ones out there, and there’s a lot of good ones. So I’m here to help you out with my favorite top 5 modern alien films:
Number Five – Dreamcatcher
“Bitch-in-a-buzzsaw. I’ve heard some mighty burps in my time, but that’s the blue ribbon baby.”
Okay, now chill. I do know this adaptation is pretty bad. But I’m a MASSIVE Stephen King fan and sometimes we have to just take the bad ones and accept them as good. And honestly, I really do enjoy Dreamcatcher! Released in 2003 the adaptation was directed by Lawrence Kasdan and stars Jason Lee, Damian Lewis, Thomas Jane, Morgan Freeman and Timothy Olyphant.
While there isn’t a tone of logic in this movie, basically aliens invade earth to poison the water and kill all humans. A group of friends who met when they were young are having their annual camping trip and unfortunately find themselves in the middle of an alien invasion. But they’re more involved than they think and a figure from their past links them all in a mysterious way that will be explained (badly).
So what’s so great about it? Firstly, it’s a Stephen King adaptation that isn’t terrible (I’m looking at you Cell…). Secondly, there’s a tone of gore and alien violence…you’ll never forget the bathroom scene after you’ve watched it. Thirdly, there are some pretty cool shots in this film. There’s a scene where the group watch as all the animals of the forest flee and it’s so spooky to watch. Could you imagine seeing that in real life and wondering what the hell was going on? Oh! And! Donnie Wahlberg plays the character of Duddits….I mean…what kind of madness?!
Number Four – Extraterrestrial
“I know this is going to sound crazy okay, but we saw something crash in the woods”
Released in 2014, this was directed by Colin Minihan based on the script by the Vicious Brothers (Grave Encounters) and stars Brittany Allen, Freddie Stroma, and Melanie Papalia.
A group of teens are off to a cabin to party for the weekend but while there they see something crash into the woods in the distance and upon investigating realize it’s an alien spacecraft. They see a set of footprints that lead off towards their cabin and as the teens try to survive the night, these mysterious aliens hunt them down.
This movie was surprisingly great! There are some really scary scenes and the aliens when shown are actually not too cheesy. There’s a really cool scene where the UFO starts screwing with the environment and the kids realize it’s raining directly in front of them but not over them. It’s hard to explain…but trust me; it’s cool to watch.
The movie takes a crazy turn when the kids get abducted and you get to see into the alien’s universe. It gets super dark and there’s a legit probing scene. A PROBING SCENE!!!!!!!! I was screaming while watching it. Then there’s this sort of “shock” ending which you’ll probably see coming.
So while Extraterrestrial is a lot of fun, especially watching in a group, it does have its flaws. And it does feel like two separate movies. But it’s a must watch for any alien fan out there because it takes all the stereotypical things we know about aliens and actually makes them scary.
Number Three – Dark Skies
“Three different migrations from three different directions flew into your house, it’s as if something was drawing them to your home”
A Blumhouse production released in 2013 written and directed by Scott Stewart, it stars Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton and J.K. Simmons.
We have a normal suburban family, dealing with the every day problems and going about their lives. But then subtly things start to change – a flock of birds flies into their house, their house alarm goes off and they find all their photographs missing, their youngest son starts having fits, there’s memory loss, catatonic events. Basically things are getting crazy. But what on earth could be happening?
Aliens. It’s always aliens. And so this family begins to search for the truth and fight to save themselves.
What’s interesting about Dark Skies is that it plays on the reality of this really happening. The family is seen as crazy and when their son has mysterious bruises on him they’re investigated for child abuse. Because in real life, we never believe when someone’s claiming to be visited by aliens. There’s also some honest to God terrifying moments in this movie that have stuck with me and made it such a contender for this list.
There are some big name actors in this flick too and they play their roles earnestly. And while there are some flaws, it’s still a movie I highly recommend – especially to those new to the genre fans.
Number Two – The Fourth Kind
“But the fourth kind, there’s nothing more frightening than the fourth. You see, that one is when they abduct you.”
The Fourth Kind was released in 2009 and was directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi, it stars Mila Jovovich, Elias Koteas, and Corey Johnson.
So there have always been three kinds of classification of close encounters, but now there’s a fourth kind – alien abduction. This film is one of those that’s “based on true events” and by that they mean very loosely based. But by making it a mokumentary, when it came out it had a lot of people confused about what was real and what wasn’t. Set in Nome, Alaska it follows a psychologist as she uses hypnosis to uncover memories from her patients who have experienced alien abduction. While doing this, she realizes she may have been abducted too.
The film breaks it down into two components; the documentary part and the dramatization of the events. Mila Jovovich plays herself playing Abbey. The documentary part shows “actual” abduction victims undergoing hypnosis.
It’s actually a really scary movie and it plays with your imagination to the point where you find yourself getting confused about what is real and what isn’t. Obviously none of this is real but the film does such a realistic job that there’s a part of you that falls for it. And I remember at the time there were a few of my friends who were convinced this was real footage and were losing their minds.
Number One – Signs
“See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?”
Guys, Signs is one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME. I’m obsessed with this movie. Released in 2002 it was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It has an amazing cast including Mel Gibson, Joaquin Pheonix, Rory Culkin and a very young Abigail Breslin.
It tells the story of a former priest who lost his faith after the death of his wife. He now lives with his two kids and his brother and they discover a series of crop circles in their cornfield. All across the world these crop circles are appearing and then lights in the sky start appearing and before we know it, the world’s been invaded.
So why is Signs number one? Because it’s a perfect film to me. Not only does it have some terrifying moments (that birthday party footage!!!!) it has some absolutely hilarious moments. Signs explores faith, kinship and forgiveness. It’s an emotional horror movie that feels incredibly realistic and raw.
All of the performances delivered are phenomenal and the way it all ties together is satisfying and emotional. And sure, at the end when you find out what kills the aliens it’s pretty dumb if you poke too many holes into the logic. BUT…I still love this movie so very much. Go watch it again and give it a chance!